The application period for Winter/Spring Quarter 2018 positions has closed. This page features an archive of projects available in a previous hiring cycle. Check back mid-Winter Quarter for a description of projects anticipated for Summer 2018 positions and to apply for a full or part-time research internship.
The Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) is an open and collaborative research center, home to the Spatial History Project, the Literary Lab, the Poetic Media Lab, Text Technologies, Humanities + Design, and the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, among other initiatives. We work with faculty, graduate students, and postdocs from Stanford and around the world on digital humanities research projects that bring together paradigms from history, geography, literary studies, education, media and cultural studies, sociology, and more. For more information on CESTA’s projects and labs, please visit cesta.stanford.edu/project-labs.
CESTA hires part-time undergraduate research assistants for a variety of projects spanning Winter and Spring Quarters. (During the summer, many research assistants work full-time.) Student tasks range from conducting traditional historical or archival research to learning new tools, developing interactive websites, creating databases, and much more. Preference is given to students who can commit to working between 5-10 hours per week during both Winter and Spring Quarters. The program includes an orientation, weekly discussions about various digital humanities topics, regular project meetings with research leads, and two brief assignments. Students are expected to work their hours in CESTA during normal business hours and partake in the above program activities.
Research Assistants are supported through Federal Work Study, independent research credit, stipends, or faculty support. Students who are funded through a stipend will receive a one time payment of $800 for the entire quarter for a baseline of 5 hours per week. Students paid hourly (FWS or faculty/grant support) are paid $16/hr and work between 5 to 10 hours per week.
We encourage students who are not selected for this term to re-apply as projects become available and student interest and experiences develop.
Project lead: Celena Allen (CESTA Manager)
CESTA seeks a creative, motivated undergraduate to assist with communications and events at the Center. 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; we currently seek an undergraduate student to serve as web community manager for this diverse online presence. To learn more check us out on twitter @cesta_stanford and FB @cesta.stanford.
Job Description: Depending on the Center’s needs and the student’s skills, tasks may include maintaining CESTA’s website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page; producing CESTA’s quarterly newsletter; editing and uploading video and audio content to CESTA’s YouTube channel; and ensuring that CESTA’s content and message are coordinated across multiple platforms. The student will work with a small team, on which he/she/they will be responsible for creating public-facing content and pushing it both to social media and to other RAs.
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.
Project lead: Celena Allen (CESTA Manager)
CESTA seeks a technically-adept, motivated undergraduate to provide support to faculty and students involved in various CESTA labs and research projects. Ideally this position is for the full academic year.
Job Description: Depending on the Center’s needs and the student’s skills, the Lab Assistant will support projects, faculty, and students utilizing a variety of digital technologies and methods. Tasks may include providing one-on-one guidance to researchers on using tools such as ArcGIS or RStudio and using center hardware and other equipment, assisting with front-end or back-end development for platforms, and sharing training resources with the CESTA community.
Project leads: Prof. Gordon Chang (History) and Prof. Shelley Fisher-Fishkin (English)
Project Description: Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese migrants toiled at a grueling pace and in perilous working conditions to help construct America’s first Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad 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.
The history of the Chinese in the U.S. from the nineteenth to early twentieth century is a transnational story that should be told from both U.S. and Chinese perspectives. The possibilities that the digitization of archives opens up will allow us to explore a range of issues involving the Chinese in America from both U.S. and Chinese vantage points. The Chinese Railroad Workers Project will produce a body of scholarship based on new materials and resources that will be the most authoritative study on the Chinese railroad worker experience in America. The scholarship will range from traditional books and essays to digital publications, along with the generation of a digital archival resource. The student hired for this position will focus on the digital visualization component of the project, continuing the work done during the academic year.
Preferred Skills:This year we are looking for design and advanced programming skills. With special focus on html and interactive website development if possible. Students will work closely with the PIs, project manager, and other researchers to: create visualizations for the data both for public consumption as well as to aid in research and analysis. The core student task will be helping to develop and design a web based visualization that will both tell the story of the Chinese Railroad Workers, and help visualize the experience of working on the rail line.
Lead Researchers: Prof. Zephyr Frank (History); Erik Steiner (Creative Director, Spatial History Project)
Project Description: 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: The RA for this project will work primarily with Zephyr Frank to develop and analysis data on rent, displacement and eviction in Rio de Janeiro and other world cities (e.g. San Francisco and Perth). Useful technical skills will include text mining, GIS and data analysis.
Project Lead: Giovanna Ceserani (Department of Classics Faculty)
Project Description: 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, directed at Stanford by Prof. Giovanna Ceserani, 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.
The project was established in 2008 with the current database started in 2013 and the interactive application to access the database in 2015. Prof. Ceserani plans to publish both, as a web-rich integrated publication, within 12 to 18 months. 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 undergraduate Research Assistant would work across two main areas of the project. Working within the database started in 2013 the student would:
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.
Project lead: Prof. Ocean Howell (University of Oregon, Departments of History and Architectural History)
Project Description: 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.
Project leads: Prof. Amir Eshel (Department of DLCL Faculty), Daniel Bush (Department of DLCL Doctoral Candidate)
Project Description: 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, it 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.
Lead Researcher: Prof. Deborah Gordon (Biology)
Land Talk seeks to empower people all over the world to document changes in weather and land within their own community. The website features oral histories collected by youth from older community members about the changes they have personally observed in their lifetime about places they know well. The project encourages younger and older people to talk together and amplifies real stories about changes in weather and land.
Job Description: We seek an earnest Stanford student to spend 5 hours per week building a prototype mobile application for collecting multimedia interviews and presenting them in their geographic context through an interactive map application.
Project lead: Luca Scholz (Department of History Andrew W. Mellon Fellow)
Project Description: This project examines the historical relationship between sovereignty and human mobility in old-regime societies. Within the complex array of ill-defined, overlapping political entities that characterized the pre-modern world, control over the movement of goods and persons was a permanent object of contention amongst competing authorities, local communities and transient populations. We are currently collecting, processing and visualizing archival and published material, using it to extract, analyze and visualize data in ways that will permit us to understand space not in absolute terms, but rather to take into account the experience of mobile populations and their real potential for using space at different times and under different conditions. Highlighting how flows of goods and people shaped states more than states could shape these flows themselves, the project also aims to inform the way we understand challenges around the control of human mobility today.
Job description: Georeference and digitize maps; extract and analyse data from printed and edited sources
Preferred skills: GIS (required); data visualization (preferred)
Project leads: Prof. Ali Yaycioglu (Stanford University, Department of History Faculty) and Dr. Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Bogazici University, Department of History Faculty)
Project Description: 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 and geo-historical sources, and historical maps and other visual material. The project is housed in CESTA’s Spatial History Project. Work began on the first stage of the project in Winter 2017. 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. The project will also be the focal point of an upcoming CESTA conference in December.
Job description: This project has multiple but largely overlapping stages:
Preferred skills: Basic knowledge of GIS. Desire to work on historical-spatial themes with a group of scholars from Greece and Turkey. Interest in Ottoman 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.
Project lead: Alesandra Celati (Department of History Marie Curie Postdoctoral Scholar)
Project Description: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 (programmes such as Palladio, 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.
Project lead: Alice Stavely (Department of English Faculty)
The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP) is currently transcribing all the sales and financial records of The Hogarth Press (1917-1946), the private publishing house owned by Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and publisher of all Woolf’s celebrated novels after 1919 as well as many hundreds more authors’ works, including some famous (Freud; T.S. Eliot; Katherine Mansfield) and others less famous but demanding historical resuscitation (Vita Sackville-West; Winifred Benson; Mulk Raj Anand; C.L.R. James). These Order Books represent a vast trove of unplumbed information about the buying and selling habits of British and international readerships during the interwar period. It is the first transcription and data aggregation project of its kind in modernist studies.
Job Description: Jobs are various but could include:
Preferred Skills: We are keen to attract students with interests in publishing history, literature, economics, computer science, and/or history, and to learn how digital tools help us mine data about the buying and selling of literature.
Project leads: Mackenzie Cooley (Department of History, Doctoral Candidate), Paula Findlen (Department of History Faculty)
Project Description: Natural Things | Ad Fontes Naturae is a global natural history project in the digital humanities based out of Stanford's Program in History & Philosophy of Science. Our goal is to trace how natural objects from around the world took on new meanings over the course of the early modern period. The project has three main goals:
New Methods of Natural History. First, this project provides a platform for scholars to share new methods of research in the history of natural history. We have organized a series of workshops at Stanford with the generous support of HPS and CMEMS from 2016 to 2018, and are planning to host a conference in 2018, which will result in an edited volume. Off campus, we have proposed two panels—to be chaired by Stanford’s Paula Findlen and Jessica Riskin—at the History of Science Society conference in Toronto in November 2017, and will be presenting a panel in the “Mapping the Territory” Conference in Göttingen, Germany in December 2017.
Natural Things and Their Environments. Second, we are conducting new research into how the perception of environmental change spurred new discoveries in natural history. With a unique breadth of sources—from the sixteenth-century Spanish Empire and seventeenth-century Middle East, to Darwin’s Galapagos and nineteenth century journeys through Indonesian rainforests—this collaborative research seeks to make visible patterns between environmental crisis and the study of nature.
A Bibliography of Global Nature. Third, we are developing a database of global nature studies which circulated from 1500 to 1800. We are compiling both canonical European sources and developing a global bibliography featuring early modern nature studies from the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Islamic World. Using WorldCat, library and archive catalogues, and specialists’ recommendations, we are developing a shared bibliography of early modern natural history on a global scale that will provide key resources to our team. This is being done by bringing together an international community of scholars to use the new technologies of digital scholarship to assemble a database of global sources.
This project has major implications for museum studies and the history of biology and ecology. One of our main goals is to redefine what constituted natural history to include the people who collected and discovered specimens before they fell into European hands. We are textually unearthing the ways that European naturalists disavowed indigenous contributions in order to make scientific knowledge more abstract and universal. Read through these sources, the rise of biology is revealed to be a global effort made possible by fraught colonial enterprises and environmental changes rather than the sole purview of European thinkers in the distant metropole.
Job Description: The undergraduate fellow would help us to develop and analyze the “Bibliography of Global Nature” and consult on the “Natural Things and Their Environments” initiative. The research assistant will dive into the extensive literature on natural history, adding sources to our bibliography. This will allow us to map the centers for the study of nature (for instance, Amsterdam, Bologna, London, and Paris) and the nature studied (from the period when Latin American nature was most popular, to the rise in interest in the Pacific). The student will have the opportunity to develop cutting-edge visualizations in the digital humanities. Such research will be an excellent way for a young scholar to learn about the breadth of sources to study early modern history and will result in a tangible output—a map that depicts the study of nature on a macro-scale. The student will be integrated in all facets of our research community. Every two weeks, they will be invited to join our team meeting where they will be collaborators in thinking about the best ways to articulate connections between perceived environmental shifts and discoveries in natural history. They will be responsible for:
Locating primary sources on the study of nature from key historiography. In doing this, we will teach the RA to distinguish between primary and secondary sources.
Locating digital copies of treatises on the study of early modern nature. The RA will gain familiarity with databases including Google Books, Biodiversity Library, as well as the BNF, BNE, and Wellcome Library’s online collections.
Developing a database of global early modern nature. This will mean learning how to distinguish titles, authors, publishers, publishing dates, and basic content in Germanic and Romance languages and adding that to our database. We will guide the RA through basic paleography and techniques for scanning through sources for cognates with the help of dictionaries and translation tools. The undergraduate RA will learn how to make a spreadsheet which renders diverse, humanistic data comparable and useful.
Preferred experience: Previous experience working in DH and a course on the history of science would be ideal but not required.
Project leads: Prof. Amir Eshel (Department of DLCL Faculty), Daniel Bush (Department of DLCL Doctoral Candidate)
Project Description: This new project aims to provide a way for instructors, students, and readers to go beyond the surface. While most readers encounter translations in a way that offers them little more than “surface”—a final version that obscures the choices the translator made and the rich cultural and semantic information that informs the original—Rich Translation is a platform that allows users to read translations in a “rich” way: with annotations providing crucial information and translation variants.
We aim to take what we have completed by the end of Spring quarter and turn it into a working prototype by the end of Summer quarter, ready for use in Prof. Amir Eshel’s translation course in Fall, 2018.
Project leads: Zephyr Frank (Department of History Faculty) and Erik Steiner (Co-Director Spatial History Project)
Project Description: The Terrain of History Project, with a focus on the history of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, seeks to map the saturation of rental addresses in the city according to their locations and characteristics. This ongoing project will result in both print and digital publications.
Job description: Student tasks will include work with historical newspapers and the development of GIS visualizations.
Preferred skills: GIS and data visualization experience; Portuguese language skills (helpful but not required)
Project lead: Matthew Kelly (Graduate School of Education Doctoral Candidate)
Project Description: 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 RAs have created several historical school district boundary maps in GIS and digitized school finance data from 1850-1950. Future RAs 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:
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.
Project Leads: Jim Tice (University of Oregon, Department of Architecture Faculty), Erik Steiner (Co-Director Spatial History Project)
Project Description: 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: Student involvement on this new project would include: helping establish a vision for the effort, developing a map of the collection, and researching 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.