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2020-2021: The Year in Review

Sep 29 2021

The Past Year in CESTA Events

At the start of the first fully remote academic quarter, CESTA, in partnership with Stanford’s Libraries and Data Science Institute, organized a conference on Data Practices bringing virtually to our community three exciting speakers, Anne Burdick (professor of visual communication at UTS), Jo Guldi (professor of history and digital history at SMU) and Mark Hansen (professor of computational journalism at Columbia University), to discuss how data science, digital humanities, and libraries address sources, methods, and meaning. These questions were also addressed during the conference’s ‘challenge’ through active teamwork by data science and digital humanities students. You can read more about this event and watch recordings of the keynote speakers here

Digital Humanities Public Lectures

This year CESTA inaugurated its Digital Humanities Public Lecture series with public talks by Gordon Chang and Roland Hsu (on November 17, 2020) and by Elaine Treharne (on March 9, 2021). These talks, which were attended by hundreds of people from around the world, marked a new and ongoing effort by CESTA to bring faculty research in DH to the general public.

Critical Data Practices Workshop

Giovanna Ceserani, Elaine Treharne, Nicole Coleman, and Merve Tekgürler coordinated the Critical Data Practices workshop (sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center). In eight sessions over the course of the academic year, the workshop encouraged participants (faculty, staff, and graduate students) to investigate the ways data extracted from cultural artefacts, writings, and observations can be transformed into new knowledge.

Digital Humanities Long View

CESTA also collaborated with University College London's Centre for Digital Humanities in organizing the Digital Humanities Long View seminar series, which has brought together speakers from across the world to discuss where digital humanities research has been and where it's going. The last and tenth talk for this year was Mark Algee-Hewitt's "Laboratory Life in the Humanities: Computation, Criticism, and Collaboration." You can access recordings of talks in the series here.

CESTA Seminar Series

CESTA's long-running Seminar Series continued this year with nine talks on subjects ranging from "Digital Rasanblaj: Disassembling the Haitian Archive" (Prof. Marlene Daut) and "Distant Reading the Law" (Dr. Hanjo Hamann), to "Geographical Knowledge in the Ottoman World" (Dr. Adrien Zakar, Merve Tekgürler, and Umar Patel). You can view many of these talks here on our website or on our YouTube channel.


Student Programs

Undergraduate Research Internship

Notwithstanding the difficulties of doing research remotely, CESTA continued its Undergraduate Research Internship throughout the academic year, supporting 119 undergraduate students in collaborations on 26 faculty projects. You can learn more about the talented students pushing digital humanities research forward at CESTA here and here. The program continued this summer, with 21 students working on 13 DH research projects. You will be able to read about this year's research in the 2020-2021 CESTA Research Anthology, which will come out this fall. In the meantime, please take a look at the 2019-2020 Anthology, designed by interns Krain Chen and Lily Nilipour. 

Digital Humanities Graduate Fellowship

CESTA's Digital Humanities Graduate Fellowship, led this year by Daniel Bush and Senior Fellow Anna Toledano, grew to 12 students from nine departments, its largest cohort ever. Five graduate fellows collaborated with undergraduate interns as part of the fellowship, and their joint presentations at CESTA's end-of-the-year Research Symposium testify to the quality of the work they did together. You can learn more about this year's fellows and their DH projects here.

Graduate Certificates in Digital Humanities

CESTA is pleased to announce that Erik Fredner and Anna Mukamal have earned Graduate Certificates in Digital Humanities.

New Collaboration with Foothill College

Thanks to a grant from Stanford's Office of Community Engagement, CESTA launched a new partnership with Foothill College, a pilot version of an internship program that paired community college students with Stanford PhD students to learn DH-related skills such as computational text analysis, spatial analysis, and data visualization. You can learn more about the grant and meet this year's interns and PhD mentors here.


The Year in CESTA Research

The past year was a productive one for CESTA scholars. The Modernist Archives Publishing Project, directed by Alice Staveley, was awarded a US-UK New Directions in Digital Scholarship grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. You can learn more about this grant and MAPP's plans here.

The LawText Project, led by Dr. Bridget Algee-Hewitt and Alice Wang, received the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize at Startup Yale, an event hosted by the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking. Molly Taylor-Poleskey, a former CESTA DH Graduate Fellow and recipient of the CESTA Graduate Certificate, received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to support work on a monograph examining the court of Friedrich Wilhelm through its food and culture. And last week we learned that Nelson Endebo and Fyza Parviz of the Poetic Media Lab have been awarded a grant for their project EpicConnect through the School of Education's Digital Learning Design Challenge.

A number of CESTA scholars published books this year. Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, edited by Benjamin Albritton, Georgia Henley, and Elaine Treharne, was published by Routledge. Nicole Coleman's The Network Turn: Changing Perspectives in the Humanities, written with Ruth Ahnert, Sebastian Ahnert, and Scott Weingart, came out with Cambridge University Press. And Thomas Mullaney published Your Computer Is on Fire, edited with Benjamin Peters, Mar Hicks, and Kavita Philip and published by MIT Press.

Likewise, two former members of the Spatial History Project published books this year: Frederico Freitas published Nationalizing Nature: Iguazu Falls and National Parks at the Brazil-Argentina Border (Cambridge University Press), and Cameron Blevins published his first book, Paper Trails: the US Post and the Making of the American West (Oxford University Press) along with a companion website, Gossamer Network.

The Spatial History Project team (Leonardo Barleta, Mateo Carrillo, Zephyr Frank, and Erik Steiner) published an article in Land titled "Ejidos, Urbanization, and the Production of Inequality in Formerly Agricultural Lands, Guadalajara, Mexico, 1975–2020." Richard Roberts's article "Slavery, the End of Slavery, and the Intensification of Work in the French Soudan, 1883–1912" appeared in African Economic History. Rowan Dorin, director of the Corpus Synodalium project, published "The Bishop as Lawmaker in Late Medieval Europe" in Past & Present.

Literary Lab scholars Mark Algee-Hewitt, J.D. Porter, and Hannah Walser published "Representing Race and Ethnicity in American Fiction, 1789-1920" in the Journal of Cultural Analytics. Anna Mukamal, another Literary Lab scholar, published "Student Labour and Major Research Projects" along with co-authors Kate Moffatt, Kandice Sharren, and Claire Battershill in Digital Studies/Le Champ Numérique. A number of former CESTA students published articles this year as well. Cameron Blevins published an article titled "Sounds and Community: 'Singing Box 331' as Digital History" in William and Mary Quarterly. Rachel Midura's article "Itinerating Europe: Early Modern Spatial Networks in Printed Itineraries, 1545–1700" appeared in the Journal of Social History. And Thomas Smits, a Visiting Scholar at CESTA in 2019, published an article titled "The Agency of Computer Vision Models as Optical Instruments" in Visual Communication

Other CESTA projects celebrated the launch of new websites, exhibits, and workshops. The Mapping Ottoman Epirus project, led by Ali Yaycioglu, unveiled a new website featuring visualizations, archives, and interactive maps that bring the regions of the Ottoman Empire to life. Christina Hodge's team at Stanford University Archaeology Collections opened an exhibit titled "Modeling Mesoamerica" that offers a new perspective on the university's collection of Central American antiquities.

A team directed by Rowan Dorin released Corpus Synodalium, an open access database of late medieval ecclesiastical legislation containing more than fourteen hundred texts. And Text Technologies, led by Elaine Treharne, hosted a new workshop on "Mapping the Aegean" with Benedetta Bessi, a 2020-2022 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow who we are delighted to have recently welcomed to CESTA, where she will be based for the 2021/22 academic year.