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Paid Undergraduate Research Opportunities in CESTA: Summer 2018

May 21 2018

The application period for Summer 2018 positions has closed. This page features an archive of projects available in a previous hiring cycle. Check back during the Fall Quarter for a description of projects anticipated for Winter-Spring 2019 positions and to apply for a full or part-time research internship.

Summer 2018 Undergraduate Research Internships at CESTA

Interested in gaining academic and research experience this summer? Apply for an undergraduate Research Internship at CESTA! This opportunity integrates students into a community of faculty, students, and staff who combine technology and the humanities. Work on interdisciplinary projects, learn about digital humanities, and gain valuable experience along the way. Applications for Summer Quarter positions are now being accepted. See the full job announcement below to learn about available projects and how to apply. 


About CESTA’s Summer Research Internships

CESTA hires full and part-time undergraduate research interns for a variety of projects during Summer Quarter. Summer positions run from June 25 - August 31, with the option of continuing to work until the start of fall quarter (September 24). Student tasks range from conducting traditional historical or archival research to learning new tools, developing interactive websites, creating databases, and much more. The program includes an orientation, weekly discussions about various digital humanities topics, regular project meetings with research leads, and limited number of brief assignments. Students are expected to work their hours in CESTA during normal business hours and partake in the above program activities.


Over the summer, research interns are supported through stipends, hourly positions, or Federal Work Study. Summer research interns who are funded through a stipend will receive a one time payment of $7,000 for working full-time (40 hours per week) or $3,500 for working half-time (20 hours per week) for positions that span June 25 - August 31. Depending on project and funding availability, some students may also work on an hourly basis at a rate of $16/hour. Students will have access to faculty and staff mentorship for their projects in addition to a great working space.

Application Deadline and Timeline

  • Thursday, March 15 by 11:59 PM: Application due
  • March 22, March 29, and April 5: Group Interviews at CESTA (applicants are expected to participate in one session, exact times TBA)
  • April 16 - April 30: Internship offers and on-boarding communications emailed
  • June 25: Summer research internships begin
Applications for 2018-19 academic year positions (spanning Winter and Spring Quarters) will be accepted mid-Autumn.

To Apply

If you are interested in working at CESTA this summer, please complete our application form no later than 11:59 PM on Thursday, March 15. The application asks questions about your availability, experience, and interests. You will also upload a resume and cover letter. After reading the project descriptions found below, write a brief cover letter indicating why you might be a good fit for one or more of them. This is an opportunity for you to expand upon what you have included in your resume and relate your skills and experiences to the projects you are interested in. Have your resume and cover letter ready to upload in a single PDF document at the end of the application form.
Prompt applications will receive preferential consideration, as will applicants who are eligible for Federal Work Study or open to receiving independent study credit. Any applications submitted after the deadline will be considered only if additional needs arise.  We encourage students who are not selected for this term to re-apply as projects become available and student interest and experiences develop.
Check out the FAQs for further info. We encourage you to give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions about the application process. We can be reached at 650-721-1385 or you can email

Potential Projects in Summer 2018

CESTA Community

Project Lead: Celena Allen (CESTA Manager)
Home to six central labs and scores of projects, CESTA is Stanford’s digital humanities hub, regularly hosting events that bring together faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from across campus and around the world. Through our social media feeds and other public-facing content, CESTA keeps both scholars and the public informed about the timely and exciting digital humanities research happening at Stanford and elsewhere. To learn more check us out on Twitter @cesta_stanford and FB @cesta.stanford.
Job Description: CESTA seeks a creative, motivated undergraduate to assist with communications and programs at the Center. The student will work with a small team, on which he/she/they will be responsible for creating content for the CESTA community and beyond. Depending on the Center’s needs and the student’s skills, tasks may include assisting with social media and web efforts as well as supporting programs that facilitate skills development and community-building.
Preferred Skills: A friendly, outgoing personality and a flair for teamwork are essential, as is an interest in and enthusiasm for CESTA’s programs and projects. Excellent communication and time management skills. Experience organizing social media campaigns and using tools such as Hootsuite, Mailchimp, website management (Drupal) is a bonus. Prior experience in collaborative research projects, training others, or leadership positions is a bonus.

Chinese Railroad Workers in North America

Project Leads: Prof. Gordon Chang (History) and Prof. Shelley Fisher Fishkin (English)
The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad (between 1865 and 1869) helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West. The Project coordinates research in North America and Asia in order to create an online digital archive available to all, along with books, digital visualizations, conferences, and public events.
Job Description: The research intern will work closely with the PIs, project manager, and other researchers to aid in research and analysis and the development of a digital archive.  Specifically, the student will support ongoing efforts to transcribe primary sources; collect data and input content for the digital archive.
Preferred Skills: We are looking for student with interest and/or experience in working with archival records, database creation, and possibly data visualization.

Global Medieval Sourcebook

Project Leads: Prof. Kathryn Starkey (German and English) and Mae Lyons-Penner (graduate student in Comparative Literature)
The Global Medieval Sourcebook (GMS) is an online repository which brings together curated collections of texts dating from the sixth to the sixteenth century and originating in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Each work is presented in its original language and in a new English translation, where possible with high resolution images of the manuscript source. The site uses an innovative page display to offers visitors maximum flexibility in their engagement with text and image. Concise but scholarly introductions provide a contextual frame for users with little or no prior knowledge of medieval text cultures. Current themed collections include fabliaux, love songs and excerpts of world histories, but there are many others in the pipeline! 
Job Description: In the current phase, we are encoding new content in TEI and developing the functionality of the site.
Preferred Skills: Translation skills are highly desired. The original texts featured in GMS thus far span the following languages: Old and Middle High German, Middle Low German, Medieval Dutch, Old and Middle French, Old and Middle English, Medieval Italian, Medieval Latin, Old Spanish (including Aljamiado), Medieval Hungarian, Chinese, Arabic, and Persian. Prior Drupal experience is helpful, and knowledge of TEI guidelines is also a plus.

Global Urbanization and Its Discontents: Poverty, Property, and the City

Project Lead: Prof. Zephyr Frank (History) and Erik Steiner (Creative Director, Spatial History Project)
Over the last several decades, millions of people have migrated from rural villages and towns into urban contexts which now hold over half of the world’s population. The growth of cities also has been accompanied by an astonishing surge in land values and housing costs, especially in “superstar cities” whose real-estate markets have experienced an influx of global capital, driving housing prices upward and crowding out low-income residents. This exciting new project investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of property, rent, and displacement in six world cities and their hinterlands in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Job Description: Interns will collaborate with a team of researchers under the direction of Zephyr Frank to develop and analysis data on rent, displacement and eviction in Rio de Janeiro and other world cities (e.g. Bandung, Indonesia and Phoenix, Arizona). 
Preferred Skills: Useful technical skills will include text mining, GIS, and data analysis.

The Grand Tour Project

Project Lead: Giovanna Ceserani (Classics)
The Grand Tour of Italy attracted thousands of Europeans throughout the eighteenth century. It was a formative institution of modernity, contributing to a massive reimagining of politics and the arts, of the market for culture, of ideas about leisure, and of practices of professionalism. The Grand Tour Project enriches our understanding of this phenomenon by bringing us closer to the diverse travelers, elite and otherwise, who collectively constituted its world. We are working with the more than five thousand entries in John Ingamells’ Dictionary of British and Irish Travelers to Italy to create a dynamic searchable database, along with digital visualizations, of these travelers’ journeys and lives.This project has major research impact for eighteenth century history by bringing together art historians, literary scholars interested in travel literature, historians of tourism, historians of international cultural contacts and exchanges, historians of collecting and of economic history, and more.
Job Description: The Research Intern will work on final revisions for Grand Tour Explorer, the interactive web platform of the Grand Tour project. Additionally, the intern will collaborate with the PI and other researchers to prepare scholars’ papers based on the Grand Tour Explorer for publication, focuses on data visualizations and other image issues.
Preferred Skills: Familiarity with Excel and/or spreadsheets and basic data management; ability to work independently on tasks (following some initial technical consultation). An interest in Italy, the Grand Tour, working with historic data, and thorough attention to detail is ideal.

Imagined San Francisco

Project Lead: Prof. Ocean Howell (University of Oregon, History and Architectural History)
American urban historians have begun to understand that digital mapping provides a potentially powerful tool to describe political power. A new project called "Imagined San Francisco" is motivated by a desire to expand upon this approach. The site will enable users to layer a series of historical urban plans, with a special emphasis on unrealized plans. Visitors will be able to see what the city would have looked like had a variety of different schemes been enacted. The idea is to treat visual material not only to illustrate outcomes, but also to interrogate historical processes, and to use maps, plans, drawings, and photographs not only to show what did happen, but also what might have happened. "Imagined San Francisco" presents the city not only as a series of material changes, but also as a contingent process and a battleground for political power. These digital tools are uniquely suited to convey how political power was not only contested, but also distributed (if unevenly), since physical outcomes of the city were almost always hybrids of competing plans, rather than the straightforward expressions of the needs and desires of political regimes.
Job Description: The student will work closely with Prof. Ocean Howell and with Erik Steiner (Creative Director, Spatial History Project) on the implementation of storyboards and layouts and on the creation of digital visualizations.
Preferred Skills: Experience with programming and web-development, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, and possibly Flash/ActionScript. Basic knowledge of GIS. Some experience with design and data visualization is a plus. Interest in urban studies, infrastructure, neighborhood planning, and/or San Francisco history is desirable.

Law and Resistance in Late Medieval Europe

Project Lead: Prof. Rowan Dorin (History)
Medieval European society was profoundly shaped by the legal institutions and lawmaking activity of the Catholic church. From the late twelfth century onward, papal law proliferated, with letters and decrees being sent forth from the papal curia to the farthest reaches of Christendom. Meanwhile, at a local level, bishops could use their own legislative powers to advance, transform, or even resist these centralizing efforts. Until now, the extent and dispersion of the surviving sources has made impossible to study this corpus systematically, but a new digital database created at Stanford is opening new possibilities for comparative analysis of such local legislation across space and time - allowing us to track more precisely the role of law in shaping the social and religious life of late medieval Europe.
Job Description: The research intern will focus on integrating the text corpus with existing digital maps of medieval church jurisdictions, so that users can perform spatially-inflected searches on the text corpus, or (conversely) plot textual data on the maps.  The research intern will also work together with a developer to create the public-facing, web-based architecture for integrating the spatial and textual corpora of the project. In addition, the research intern will also help to develop tools for improving search outcomes within the text corpus (which encompasses several languages, though no prior familiarity with medieval languages is expected.) 
Preferred Skills: GIS skills, or a willingness to learn, is desirable. Some programming experience is also preferred, particularly a familiarity with database and web design.

Literary Lab

Project Lead: Prof. Mark Algee-Hewitt (English) and Dr. J.D. Porter (Co-Director of the Literary Lab)
The Stanford Literary Lab uses quantitative and computational methods to ask and answer questions about texts. From tracking the historical rise and fall of iambic pentameter to training a neural net to identify suspenseful passages in novels, the Lab pursues hypotheses about literary history and form on the scale of hundreds or thousands of texts, exploring fiction and poetry through methods such as network analysis, stylometry, and topic modeling.
Job Description: Depending on the status of ongoing projects and the students’ skills and interests, duties may include digitizing documents; manually tagging texts for character, setting, or time frame; maintaining a database of metadata on authors and texts; building networks of character interactions; and/or working with project leads to design an experimental protocol. In all cases, students will collaborate closely with project leads.
Preferred Skills: Attention to detail and strong communication skills, a passion for literature, and experience working with spreadsheets and updating databases. Familiarity with Python and/or R is a plus.

Mapping Ottoman Epirus: Space, Power and Empire

Project Leads: Prof. Ali Yaycıoğlu (History) and Prof. Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Boğaziçi  University, Department of History)
This project aims to map the political and economic landscape of Greece during the Ottoman period, focusing on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More specifically, the main purpose of the project is to construct a digital and interactive map of Ottoman Greece and to designate urban and village settlements, agricultural and pastoral landscapes, transportation webs and monuments, mercantile and intellectual networks, the structure of governance and administrative setting, and accumulation of power and wealth in Western and Central Greece, roughly from the early 18th to mid 19th centuries. In doing so, we integrate complex and multifaceted data gathered from archival documents in Ottoman-Turkish and Greek (as well as French, Russian, and English), topographic data derived from our field trips, geo-historical sources, historical maps, and other visual material. Long term aims for the project are to collaborate with a group of scholars from Greek and Turkish institutions to classify the data and build a geospatial database. This project will initiate the first digital map of the Ottoman Empire's (the Balkans, Turkey, and the Middle East between 1400 and 1918) complex social, economic, political, ethnic, religious, and cultural landscape. 
Job description: This project has multiple but largely overlapping stages:
  • Georeferencing historical maps and documents to designate historical place names in Turkish, Greek, Albanian, and Bulgarian. This effort will allow us to start building a historical gazetteer.
  • Reconstruct communication and correspondence processes including documents such as:  various administrative letters, petitions, contracts, imperial orders, private letters, cadastral documents, and fiscal documents.
  • Place communities, demographic information, religious and ethnic distribution.
Preferred skills: Desire to work on historical-spatial themes with a group of scholars from Greece and Turkey. Interest in Ottoman Empire History and Greece in Eastern Mediterranean context. Language skills in Greek or Turkish or Arabic are desirable but not necessary. The process of researching and documenting these place names is almost as complex as the history of the Ottoman empire itself. Names of places change over time, the language of the area has changed over time, and little evidence is left behind for many of these places. These make for plenty of challenges and fascinating discoveries. Patience, a willingness to problem solve, and desire to dive into the history of this project are desired. Also helpful: basic knowledge of GIS or experience with complex databases, database design, or basic experience with R, Python/network analysis.

Medicine, Heresy and Freedom of Thought in Sixteenth-Century Italy: A Network of Dissident Physicians in the Confessional Age

Project Lead: Dr. Alesandra Celati (Marie Curie Postdoctoral Scholar in History)
This project will reconstruct the network of Italian dissident physicians that shaped a community of “learned dissent” in the so called Confessional Age. Using DH tools, and applying a networked approach to a sound sample of heretical physicians compiled from Italian archives, the project will examine and interpret the link between sixteenth-century heretical thought and the rise of modern science. This new project is inherently interdisciplinary and works on the intersections between religious and medical history.
Job Description: The student will work closely with the research lead on three related components. The first will be the reconstruction and examination of the social/cultural/religious network that a heretical physician could strike up in the sixteenth century, as it emerges from the pilot case's Inquisition trial (Girolamo Donzellini, 1513-1587). This first reconstruction will provide a consistent range of ties, which will be the object of additional investigation, aimed at visualising a much wider network of medical practice, cultural exchange, and religious dissent based in the Republic of Venice. The last part of the project will track the ultra-venetian ties of the physicians who worked in Venice and the ulterior links that religious exile physicians built with relevant figures in the European medical and religious frame. As learned men embedded in the circuits of European culture and as dissenters interested in supporting each other, they expanded their connections to the whole of Italy and the whole of Europe, where they migrated looking for some forms of religious and intellectual freedom. The student will have the chance to become familiar with original sixteenth-century sources, and will have many opportunities to take analysis of the data in his/her own directions that will open up creative, new avenues for historical inquiry.
Preferred Skills: Experience with design and data visualization and programs such as Palladio and Gephi. Interest in network analysis and data visualisation. Interest in Italian history, as well as the desire to work with textual sources alongside quantitative ones. Ability to work closely with the instructor, but also to work independently on data input, analysis, and collection.

Poetic Media Lab

Project leads: Prof. Amir Eshel (DLCL) and Daniel Bush (Doctoral Candidate in DLCL)
The Poetic Media Lab seeks a developer to work on modules for one or more platforms. Lacuna is a digital education platform that allows students and instructors to read and annotate course materials together. Built using Drupal, annotate.js, and D3, Lacuna features multiple tools designed to allow users to organize their annotation and instructors to design new reading and writing assignments. Lacuna is used in teaching courses and for collaborative research at institutions like Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, Princeton, Dartmouth, and others. Layered Translations is a new platform that allows users to read translations in a “rich” way: with annotations providing crucial information and translation variants.
Job Description: Depending on the research intern’s skills and interests, they may work on existing or new modules of Lacuna or Layered Translations to extend the platforms for exploring, annotating, and learning collaboratively in college-level courses. Responsibilities may include assisting with platform design, including creating mockups, and contributing to front-end development. We are seeking someone who is interested in being a collaborator and who will be invested in the project's long-term goals. 
Preferred skills: Web Design experience and knowledge of annotate.js, CSS, D3, Drupal, Github, HTML is desired; knowledge of JavaScript and PHP is a plus. The ideal candidate will also be interested in learning more about the field of digital humanities while gaining practical experience working in cross-disciplinary teams. 

Text Technologies

Project Lead: Prof. Elaine Treharne (English)
Text Technologies investigates all forms of human communication from cuneiform tablets to Twitter. Using the power of computational tools and critical analysis, Text Technologies asks questions such as: what does the history of communication teach us about the forms of future information technologies? 
Job Description: Working with faculty and staff in CESTA, students collaborate on projects that trace the evolution of human communication, uncover the lived experiences of people through their written record and ephemera and engage in academic conferences and more.
Preferred Skills: No specific skills are required, but an interest in medieval manuscripts, Latin, Old English, archival materials, objects, technologies, any form of human communication, and/or history is helpful.

Unequal by Design: School Districting and the Roots of Educational Inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1850-1950

Project lead: Matthew Kelly (Graduate School of Education Doctoral Candidate)
We often treat resource disparities between school districts as unavoidable, if not natural, features of American schooling. Some scholars even celebrate it. Yet, inequality between school districts was a human invention, one that was shaped by a dense collection of poorly understood policy decisions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unequal by Design investigates the roots of educational inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1850 and 1950, examining how the spatial organization of opportunity in the region has shifted over time.
Job Description: Previous researchers have created several historical school district boundary maps in GIS and digitized school finance data from 1850-1950. Future interns will continue to create historical school district boundary maps, visualize school finance data, work with census data to document the evolution of school segregation, and analyze the scope of school district gerrymandering over time. Specific tasks may include working on digitizing sampled census data to connect demographic data with existing finance data, creating more maps utilizing historical data, and exploring district gerrymandering on existing maps.
Preferred Skills: Interest in educational equity and GIS experience. Data management in excel; interest in history. Experience with STATA would be an added bonus but is not necessary.

Urban Legacy of Ancient Rome

Project Leads: Prof. Jim Tice (University of Oregon, Department of Architecture) and Erik Steiner (Co-Director Spatial History Project)
This new research, a part of the Forma Urbis Romae project, seeks to digitize and georeference the photographs of Ernest Nash in the Fototeca Unione. This essential photographic collection housed at the American Academy in Rome captures the archeological history of the city as recorded in the 1950s.
Job Description: Contribute to the vision for the effort, develop a map of the collection, and research sites of extant ancient Rome.
Preferred experience: No specific skills required, but an interest in Rome/Italy, photography, architecture, archeology, mapping, database design, etc. would be valuable.