Skip to content Skip to navigation

Undergraduate Research Opportunities at CESTA: Winter, Spring, and/or Summer 2021

group of students standing together in CESTA
Nov 9 2020

See the full job announcement below to learn about the internship program, review the list of anticipated research projects, and find the application deadlines and how to apply.

About CESTA’s Undergraduate Research Internships

The CESTA Undergraduate Research Internship program matches students with faculty-led research projects at Stanford, giving students the chance to enrich their learning experience by contributing to research in the digital humanities under faculty tutelage. In addition, students join a vibrant cohort of Stanford undergrads from many majors and backgrounds in a supportive program that includes discussions and workshops on topics related to the digital humanities, as well as a capstone event and/or publication. Finally, students receive mentorship and training from faculty and staff and — pending university guidelines on COVID-19 — access to a great working space on the fourth floor of Wallenberg Hall.

To read about the work and experiences of recent interns, please look at the 2019 CESTA Summer Research Anthology.

And to hear directly from recent interns, please view the short Intern Spotlight videos on CESTA's YouTube channel.

Finally, if you want to speak to a current intern about the CESTA experience, please contact Ryan Tan, our CESTA Ambassador. 

 

Program Terms

Due to changes in Stanford's academic calendar, the Undergraduate Research Internship is slightly different this year. Students will have the option of joining in any of the coming quarters: Winter (part-time), Spring (part- or full-time), and Summer (part- or full-time). Stanford undergraduates can apply to one or more of these quarters; preference is given to students with interest in participating in at least two quarters (not necessarily back-to-back).

Winter 2021

  • January 11 through March 19, 2021
  • Part-time commitment, between 5-10 hours per week
  • Regular program sessions (meetings with the full-cohort) every 2 weeks

Spring 2021

  • March 29 through June 4, 2021
  • Part-time commitment (between 5-10 hours per week) or full-time commitment (40 hours per week)
  • For all students, regular program sessions (meetings with the full-cohort) every 2 weeks
  • For full-time students, program is more intensive, with frequent sessions and co-working

Summer 2021

  • June 21 through August 27, 2021 
  • Part-time commitment (between 5-10 hours per week) or full-time commitment (40 hours per week)
  • For all students, regular program sessions (meetings with the full-cohort) every 2 weeks
  • For full-time students, program is more intensive, with frequent sessions and co-working

Position Types

Internship positions can vary according to individual project needs and policies associated with forms of support. Interns will receive information about their specific arrangement in their offer letters. Generally speaking, interns working part-time may receive academic credit via their project's faculty lead or be offered stipends or hourly positions. Interns working full-time in the spring or summer quarters may be offered hourly positions or stipends. Students who qualify for Federal Work-Study awards in 2020-21 should let us know about their eligibility at the time that they apply. Students offered positions supported by VPUE stipends are required to complete a Student Contract prior to participating in our program.

Application Timeline

  • Wednesday, January 6 (at 11:59 pm):  Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis before January 6, and students are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
  • Week of January 11: Group Interviews over Zoom; offer letters sent to students for all quarters. 
  • Week of January 18: Orientation and initial project meetings for students working in the Winter quarter.

 

To Apply

Through the application form, you'll share basic information about you, the faculty-led project you would like to work on (or general type of digital humanities projects you'd like to work on), and details about your eligibility. While we cannot guarantee that you will be matched with the project you request, we will do our best to meet your preferences. You will also be asked to upload a resume and cover letter that addresses a brief prompt. The application should take under 45 minutes to complete. Once you submit, you'll receive an email confirmation of your responses from Google Forms. (If you need to make changes to your application after submitting, please email cesta_stanford@stanford.edu.)

Click Here to Begin the CESTA Research Internship Application

As noted above, prompt applications will receive preferential consideration, as will applicants who are eligible for Federal Work-Study. Any applications submitted after the deadline will be considered only if additional needs arise.

Check out the FAQs for further info. We encourage you to contact us if you have further questions about the application process, our internship program, or specific projects. 

Potential Projects in Winter, Spring, and Summer 2021

Below is a list of anticipated projects in 2021 (as of November 12, 2020). Note that students may also be considered for additional projects not listed here and some projects do not actively work with research interns in every term. Thus it’s helpful for application materials (i.e., cover letter, resume, and form responses) to broadly reflect the projects, themes, and technologies that suit you best.

  1. Aftermaths of Enslavement: Curating Legacies | Prof. Grant Parker
  2. CESTA Communications |Prof. Giovanna Ceserani (CESTA Faculty Director) and Amanda Wilson Bergado (Center Manager)
  3. Computational Border Studies | Dr. Bridget Algee-Hewitt (CCSRE)
  4. Egypt in South Africa | Prof. Grant Parker (Classics)
  5. George Moses Horton Project | Prof. Zephyr Frank (History and Urban Studies) and Dr. Cecil Brown
  6. Global Urbanization and Its Discontents | Prof. Zephyr Frank (History and Urban Studies)
  7. The Grand Tour Project | Prof. Giovanna Ceserani (Classics, CESTA Faculty Director)
  8. Josquin Research Project | Prof. Jesse Rodin (Music) and Prof. Craig Stuart Sapp (Music)
  9. LandTalk and Urban Ecology | Prof. Deborah Gordon (Biology) and Erik Steiner
  10. The Literary Lab | Prof. Mark Algee-Hewitt (English) and Drs. Laura McGrath and J.D. Porter
  11. Mapping Ottoman Epirus: Space, Power and Empire | Prof. Ali Yaycioglu (History) and Prof. Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Bogazici University, Istanbul)
  12. Mapping Geographical Knowledge in the Modern Middle East | Dr. Adrien Zakar (History) and Prof. Zephyr Frank (History and Urban Studies)
  13. Modernist Archives Publishing Project | Dr. Alice Staveley (English)
  14. Museum Cultures Virtual Exhibit | Dr. Christina Hodge (Stanford University Archaeology Center)
  15. OpenGulf: Historical Texts as Data Project | Prof. Nora Barakat (History)
  16. Oral History Textual Analysis Project: Sexual Harassment and Violence in the 19th Century | Prof. Estelle Freedman (History), Dr. Natalie Marine-Street (Stanford Historical Society), and Dr. Katie McDonough (Turing Institute)
  17. Panic and Pandemic in Early Modern Europe | Prof. Laura Stokes (History)
  18. Poetic Media Lab | Prof. Amir Eshel (Comparative Literature)
  19. Senegalese Liberations Paper Project | Prof. Richard Roberts (History)
  20. Social Networks in Early Islamic World | Prof. Michael Penn (Religious Studies)
  21. Text Technologies | Prof. Elaine Treharne (English)
  22. Urban Studies and Practice of Theory | Prof. Ato Quayson (English)
  23. Visible Bodies | Prof. Joel Cabrita (History)
  24. Women in Provenance | Dr. Christina Hodge (Stanford University Archaeology Collections, SUAC)
     

Aftermaths of Enslavement: Curating Legacies

Project Lead: Prof. Grant Parker (Classics)

The project will build upon recent research on the Aftermaths of Slavery led by Prof. Grant Parker and Prof. James Campbell, sponsored by CCSRE. In this new phase, we seek to create a digital database for slave pasts with some emphasis on unpublished source material and oral history, utilizing archival documents and new archaeological data. Additionally, we aim to develop new networks for public outreach, especially in South Africa and Mauritius, working with heritage sector professionals and activists to hold events and create multimedia teaching materials. By focusing on the Indian Ocean World, we hope to complement the Global Curatorial Project in an ancillary capacity.

The Research Intern for this project will become grounded in the history and heritage of enslavement in an Indian Ocean context and contribute to scoping out digital best practices for databases. The research intern will also become familiar with the Global Curiatorial Project with a view toward developing partnerships. An interest in historical and/or archaeological research is desirable.

CESTA Communication and Community Intern

Project Leads: Prof. Giovanna Ceserani (Faculty Director) and Amanda Wilson Bergado (Center Manager)

Through scholarly communications as well as myriad forms of digital content, CESTA strives to inform scholars, students, and the public about the timely and exciting digital humanities research happening at Stanford and elsewhere. Communication and Community (Comms) interns help establish CESTA’s presence, both online and in the campus community. They are also instrumental in fostering community among students participating in the internship program and creating a culture of collective problem-solving and idea-sharing.
Comms interns hone their skills developing and implementing a communications plan, designing digital and print media, and crafting effective communications about research for various audiences and across different mediums. They also gain experience in peer mentorship and facilitating small and large group sessions to support peer-learning and cohort-bonding.

Computational Border Studies

Project Lead: Dr. Bridget Algee-Hewitt (CCSRE)

Dr. Bridget Algee-Hewitt is a biological anthropologist, who studies skeletal and genetic diversity in modern populations. She develops novel computational approaches to biological data analysis in order to explore geographic patterns of human variation. With a strong social justice focus to her research, her work has practical implications for human identification methods in the forensic sciences. Her current project aims to find temporal, geographic and demographic (sex/gender, age) trends in border crossing deaths at the US-Mexico border as well as determine if/how Trump’s policies have affected death and apprehension rates relative to the prior Obama administration.

Depending on student interests, skills, and experience, potential work could include:

  • 3D modeling related to spatial mapping, engineering, math, graphic design (CGI), medicine and human biology.
  • Developing predictive models for unknown forensic cases through shape analysis algorithms to map the topography of bone, quantifying how their landscape changes with age, environ and life-stress factors; related to this workflow, processing laser scans from research based in the Philippines that would feed into predictive models.
  • Building virtual models from scan coordinates, exporting the data to algorithms, and running data through software developed for this work.
  • Researching sources such as policy briefs and news articles to gather data about local and historical factors that could influence patterns of migration.

Egypt in South Africa

Project Lead: Prof. Grant Parker (Classics)

Egypt has held an exceptional place in the western imagination: located within the world's largest desert, the country is an elongated oasis along the Nile river. This unique setting nourished one of the world's earliest civilizations, its monumental architecture and writing system contributing to a distinctive cultural status. Westerners have viewed Egypt as timeless and exotic, a status described by the cultural critic Edward Said as Orientalist. Reimagining Egypt's place in Africa, this case study focuses on South African representations of Egypt. In South Africa's colonial history, ancient Egypt has been a template for monumentality and for antiquity itself. In the late 19th century, Cecil John Rhodes and other entrepreneurs fantasized about a 'Cape to Cairo' rail link that would unite the possessions of the British Empire.

A relational database will make it possible - for the first time - to take stock of Egypt and Egyptianizing phenomena (broadly conceived) in South Africa. Relevant material will include collectible objects (many donated to museums by tourists); architectural style; artistic and literary themes in the creative arts. The database will be a counterpart to South Africa, Greece and Rome: a digital museum, created by CESTA and housed by Stanford University Libraries. It will also draw on resources collected within another relational database already created under CESTA's aegis but not yet published: A Museum of Museums in South Africa (MOMSA).

A student working on this project will develop an understanding of ancient Egypt and its complex cultural impact; become immersed in African pasts and their contested legacies, including debates around heritage and museums in colonial-era and post-apartheid South Africa; think creatively about museum-making, both digital and physical. Preferred skills: familiarity with Drupal and other multi-media databases. Any academic background in ancient Egypt, South African history, European colonial history, or heritage studies will be an advantage.

George Moses Horton Project

Project Leads: Prof. Zephyr Frank (History and Urban Studies) and Dr. Cecil Brown

Who was George Moses Horton? What is his significance to American culture today? An African-American slave (1797–1888) challenged by laws that prevented him from learning to read and write, Horton developed a method of composing poetry orally. Like contemporary rappers JayZ, Common, and the Last Poets, he created a new way of making poems, generally called “free-styling.” Students paid 25, 50, or 75 cents for Horton’s poems, depending on the level of passion toward their object of affection. Using AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), the Horton Project will transport viewers to the antebellum world of the University of North Carolina, helping us to recover aural and spatial dimensions of oral poetry and performance in the 19th century.

This team seeks research interns to develop 3-D models/animations of people and environments and program the 3-D graphic systems so users can interact with an avatar of George Moses Horton. In the project’s current stage, they are looking to re-factor from Unity to Unreal Engine 5 as well as use motion and facial capture features of ARKit. Prior experience in developing AR or VR projects is preferred; an interest in learning the tools and methods as well as strong collaboration skills is necessary. Ultimately, the team aims to produce an app where the user is both narrator and actor who will communicate with Horton to reproduce a piece of poetry using a process similar to Horton's 19th century methods.

Global Urbanization and Its Discontents

Project Lead: Prof. Zephyr Frank (History and Urban Studies)

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, driving housing prices upward and crowding out low-income residents. This multi-institution, NSF-funded collaboration investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of property, rent, and displacement in multiple world cities and their hinterlands in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The research assistant for this project will work with a team to develop and analyze data on rent, displacement, and eviction in various cities around the world (e.g. Phoenix, AZ and Curitiba, Brazil). Students will develop and utilize skills in text mining, GIS, data analysis, and machine learning.

The Grand Tour Project

Project Lead: Prof. Giovanna Ceserani (Classics)

The Grand Tour Project is dedicated to applying computational approaches to better understand 18th century travels to Italy. These journeys involved tens of thousands of travelers, seeking to experience Italy’s ancient past, classical ruins, and art heritage, as well as contemporary music, culture, and political systems. The Grand Tour Project  creates and leverages digital tools, analysis, and visualizations to bring us closer to the diverse travelers who collectively constituted the world of travels to Italy in the 18th century.

The project is now preparing for publication, which will include the interactive database, complete documentation and history of database creation, essays by leading scholars of 18th century history and culture exemplifying research completed using the database, and pedagogical material to bring the Grand Tour in the classroom in the form of a digital humanities course. While contributing to the development of the digital book and data explorer, the research intern will consider how to make this material most accessible to readers, from advanced researchers to students, and explore what is at stake in producing a digital work that originates from a printed book.

Josquin Research Project

Project Leads: Prof. Jesse Rodin (Music) and Prof. Craig Stuart Sapp (Music)

The Josquin Research Project (JRP) changes what it means to engage with Renaissance music. Our open-access website not only hosts an ever-growing collection of complete scores, but for the first time makes the music fully searchable: in a few clicks you can identify every instance of a given melodic and/or rhythmic pattern. The JRP also provides analytical tools that can be used to gain insight into individual works, the style of a given composer, or the musical lingua franca. The goal of the project is to facilitate a new kind of knowing that brings "big data" into conversation with traditional analytical methods. The project is currently working on new analyses and visualizations of dissonance treatment in the music of Josquin des Prez and his contemporaries.

Research interns will work with the project leads to transcribe and mark-up scores and develop analytical tools for the open-access website.

LandTalk and Urban Ecology

Project Lead: Prof. Deborah Gordon (Biology) and Erik Steiner

Land Talk is a crowd-sourced collection of reports of changing landscapes from across the globe. This project 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.

In the Urban Ecology project, our team is examining how the “anthropause” – this abrupt disruption of human mobility during COVID – impacted the behavior and range of wild animals in urban spaces. Using data from the citizen science platform iNaturalist, along with visualization and statistical tools, we are examining wild animal observations in 2019 and 2020 before, during, and after stay-at-home orders were in effect. We are considering how the number of iNaturalist observers, the number of sightings of several animal groups (e.g., birds and mammals), and the spatial distribution of those sightings changed in San Francisco, Austin, and Boston. We are also examining the social dimensions of this phenomenon to understand how changes in observer behavior may affect the frequency and distribution of citizen science data contributions.


Building upon the work of previous interns, the research interns will continue to improve the LandTalk site’s accessibility and functionality, such as presenting stories in their geographic context through an interactive map application. Interns may also contribute to creating and cataloging reproducible methods for data analysis; i.e., topic modeling may help discover patterns and insights as the Land Talk corpus continues to grow. Those contributing to Urban Ecology will contribute to a database of wild animal observations, using Jupyter Notebook to both web scrape and clean data, and use Tableau and Qlik Sense to visualize findings on maps and find patterns in the data.

The Literary Lab

Lab Leads: Prof. Mark Algee-Hewitt (English) and Drs. Laura McGrath and J.D. Porter

The Stanford Literary Lab uses quantitative and computational methods to ask and answer questions about texts, exploring fiction and poetry through methods such as network analysis, stylometry, and topic modeling. 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. Research interns may collaborate on one or more Literary Lab projects, with tasks involves programming, interpretive analysis, text tagging, and information management. In addition, students will collaborate in presenting and authoring publications associated with these projects, adding their individual research on the topics to that of the collective team. The projects below exemplifies our current research focus where we will enlist the key support of undergraduate research assistants:

Grammar of Gender: This project aims to better understand gender by studying syntactic structures within literature. By analyzing the linguistic nuances that occur, we hope to identify meaningful instances where standard gender binaries are made ambiguous--and possibly, subverted. Perhaps, these moments of gender ambiguity and gender transference between characters are embedded within a novel’s grammatical structures. To that end, we ran BookNLP on a corpus containing “novels of love” from the 16th to 20th century. we will be closely analyzing the inconsistencies in gendering for each text in our corpus, and we will tag the corresponding passages. The future goal of this project would be twofold: first, we can grammatically parse the tagged passages in order to identify to what extent gender is constructed through syntactic structures. Second, we hope to build a model that can better understand the decisions of the computational reader: what gender paradigms, if any, are inherently embedded within tools like BookNLP and what gender paradigms are being built as computational tools parse through large amounts of textual data.

The Literature of Social Distancing: This project aims to understand how isolation is portrayed in the context of the novel. We hope to explore the factors that make a novel of isolation distinct from other novels: are there differences in spatial arrangements within the text--for instance, “character space” marked by pronouns and dialogue, as opposed to “physical space” marked by locale and terms of geography? Do novels of isolation cluster around a specific genre or time period? How does the gender and number of characters change the context of isolation? Next steps include parsing through the passages that we have collected, along with analyzing any trends that might appear--for instance, the diction that differentiates scenes of isolation from scenes of interaction, or the similarities between scenes of isolation across literary genres.

Personhood: The broad scope of this project has been considering what personhood is and how texts confer personhood. How is personhood embodied for characters? One possible theory that we’ve discussed links human-ness to physicality--whether a character possesses a face, body parts, or the capacity for movement. Other theories prioritize emotion, agency, or thought. We have used word vector models in R to accomplish two main tasks, the first being to generate lists of words similar to humans, animals, and objects, and the second to visualize relationships among the wordlists we generated, which help us to expand upon our theories for what constitutes personhood within a text.

Mapping Ottoman Epirus: Space, Power and Empire

Project Leads: Prof. Ali Yaycioglu (History) and Prof. Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Bogazici University, Istanbul)

This project aims 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. 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.

Students on this project work closely with the project team to translate and research place names, classify data, develop GIS-based maps, and design visualizations and other content for a digital publication. Some knowledge of web development and/or geographical/earth studies as well as relevant language skills is preferred.

Mapping Geographical Knowledge in the Modern Middle East

Project Lead: Dr. Adrien Zakar (History) and Prof. Zephyr Frank (History and Urban Studies)

This project gathers geographical works in Turkish and Arabic published between the late 18th-century and the 1920s. Hundreds of books and illustrations have been produced but despite the value of such a corpus, its sheer scale has long deterred researchers and teachers from exploiting its riches. This open archive will bring together the extent of modern geographical works into a user-friendly, publicly available map comprised of three main layers which will visualize where each work was produced, what locations they depicted, and where these works can be found today. We are building a dataset of over two thousand geographical publications in Arabic and Turkish, with occasional insertions of relevant materials in other languages including Greek, Armenian, Persian, French, English, and German. These include works explicitly titled “geography,” “cosmography,” and “atlas” as well as a plethora of vernacular genres in spatial analysis such as “Khiṭaṭ” “Khiṭaṭ al-Buldan,” “Cihannuma” and “Kitab al-ʿAjaʾib” among others. By offering an archive of geographical forms of argumentation and cartographic styles, this project aims at making the subtle transformation of non-Western knowledge traditions more visible and accessible to the modern reader and student.

The research intern will be actively involved in project development in dialogue with the project leads, assist with data curation and visualization, and work towards the design of an add-on to existing software. Prior experience with data visualization, digital archiving, and/or software development would be appreciated. Experience with Turkish or Arabic language and/or Arabic script would be appreciated but not necessary.

Modernist Archives Publishing Project

Project Lead: Dr. Alice Staveley (English)

The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP) is a critical digital archive of early twentieth-century publishing history. The goal of this site is to display, curate, and describe the documents that go into the making of a book. The collection contains thousands of images from archives and special collections relating to Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Hogarth Press including: letters, dust jackets, financial records, paper samples, illustrations, sketches, production sheets, and ephemera. These newly digitized materials are presented with peer-reviewed summaries, biographies, bibliographical information, and other scholarly materials.

Research intern tasks may include: ascribing metadata to manuscript documents, experimenting with Transkribus or other handwritten text recognition tools to transcribe financial records, developing content about Hogarth authors for the project website, and other historical writing projects. Interns should have an in literary history and culture, book reception, archives. Additionally, quantitative skills is a plus, as is experience with AI transcription. A general willingness to do archival and library annotation work in this next push to get documents ready for ingestion is appreciated.

Museum Cultures Virtual Exhibit

Project Lead: Dr. Christina Hodge (Stanford University Archaeology Center)

This project will create public visualizations of findings from the annual spring interdisciplinary course Museum Cultures: Material Representation in the Past and Present. Museum Cultures trains students in critical museology and curatorial practice. Each year we focus on a different collection from the Stanford University Archaeology Collections’ global holdings of archaeology, art, and ethnography. Students in the class research and design an exhibit. Outcomes will allow Stanford to share these discoveries with researchers and the public; integrate related online collections across the university; and, through visualization, generate new understandings of collections and intellectual relationships.

Students will work closely with the PI, project manager, and other researchers to create visualizations for the data for public and stakeholder outreach and education. The core task for the Undergraduate Research Intern will be developing and designing related web-based visualizations. This year, we anticipate a geographical mapping component and/or one in which high-resolution object images act as a “basemap” to create virtual, immersive object tours. Digital products will be web-based (in the past have used ArcGIS/StoryMap and Scalar). SUAC has a new touchscreen kiosk and there is an opportunity to design the project as a kiosk interactive if interested. The student should have an interest in web-based design and visualizations, particularly geospatial. We are looking for design and programming skills with special focus on or interest in html, GIS, and interactive website development if possible. An interest in archaeology, history, or heritage is beneficial but not required.

OpenGulf: Historical Texts as Data Project

Project Lead: Prof. Nora Barakat (History)

OpenGulf is a set of interconnected digital projects focusing on historical documentation about the Gulf. OpenGulf was launched in the Arts and Humanities Division of NYU Abu Dhabi. The projects publish open historical datasets, corpora and digital exhibits with the aim of opening Gulf Studies to digital historical exploration, analysis and interpretation in the service of open research and pedagogy.  Historical Texts as Data is one of three main OpenGulf projects, and focuses on semantic annotation and extraction of data from texts in any language that have to do with the Gulf region. The project aims to create data representative of the Gulf's multilingual and multicultural human identities as well as its competitive imperial history of geographical representation.

Depending on the project stage, research interns may assist with completing complete semantic annotation and geolocation of toponyms in French and Ottoman texts (currently underway), do historical research as necessary for geolocation, and clean and structure existing datasets extracted from British text on Najd and southern Iraq. Subsequently, interns may contribute to the visualization and mapping of British, Ottoman, and French data, and complete additional historical research as necessary for data cleaning, visualization,  mapping, and historiographical and historical analysis including building a multilingual bibliography. Interns may also identify additional texts related to historical Gulf geography and collaborate on article drafting and revision as well as prepare website exhibits. An interest in the history of the Gulf region and/or the global history of empire is preferred, as is facility in Turkish, French, Arabic, and/or other languages relevant to historical research on the Gulf. Some experience with data management, visualization and mapping is preferred but not necessary.

Oral History Textual Analysis Project: Sexual Harassment and Violence in the 19th Century

Project Leads: Prof. Estelle Freedman (History), Dr. Natalie Marine-Street (Stanford Historical Society), and Dr. Katie McDonough (Turing Institute)

OHTAP explores whether and how women who lived in the U.S. during the twentieth century named, remembered, and interpreted forms of sexual violence. Utilizing an original method, we have been developing a methodology for data mining the rich but untapped collections of digitized women’s oral history interview transcripts housed in university libraries and other collections across the U.S. The project team has created a database of 2700 transcripts from diverse regions and groups, developed a subcorpus extraction tool (and user interface), and thus far identified over 500 interviews that discuss forms of sexual violence. The project team is currently focused on data analysis of language use over time, by age cohort and race, and qualitative analysis of narrative types using NVivo. Future project work may entail natural language processing and further data visualization. A long-range goal of OHTAP is to establish methodologies for digital analysis of oral history that can be applied widely by a range of scholars, on multiple topics of inquiry.

Current research intern tasks include reviewing and expanding existing code base (Python), exploratory data analysis and visualization, and possible frontend development (Node.js, React). This position offers the opportunity to work with historical data in a collaborative environment. An advanced undergraduate with data science and/or software engineering skills (in CS or other relevant fields) is preferred. Data consists of digitized women’s oral history narratives to analyze language, attitudes, and responses to sexual assault and harassment in the twentieth century U.S.

Panic and Pandemic in Early Modern Europe

Project Lead: Prof. Laura Stokes (History)

Project examines discourses on epidemic disease against the history of outbreaks in early modern Europe, beginning with a case study on a set of German cities, utilizing digitized data from French historian Jean-Noël Biraben’s influential historiography of plague, which was intended to be a comprehensive if not complete catalogue of incidences of plague in Europe. The metadata of early modern publications available via online databases will be examined and analyzed for themes related to epidemic disease. Historical frequency of epidemic disease will be extracted from extant scholarship and mapped using ArcGIS. Data streams will then be visualized against structural data on the relative centrality of German cities. This will allow a modeling of the relationship between specific outbreaks of epidemic disease and various early modern discourses on epidemic.

Research interns will transcribe and transpose data sets from paper and online databases into the project database and perform analysis on the collected data. For data collection and transcription tasks, knowledge of French, German, and/or Latin would be helpful, as would experience with text capture and cleaning. For analysis, relevant languages could be supplemented with knowledge of R or Python, ArcGIS, or data visualization. Experience with and interest in early modern catalogs, texts, and discourses will be a plus.

Poetic Media Lab

Lab Director: Prof. Amir Eshel (Comparative Literature)

The Poetic Media Lab designs and builds creative platforms and products that promote new ways of conducting research, teaching, and learning in the 21st century. Participatory and collaborative sensemaking of complex phenomena is central in today’s information-rich world. The critical thinking and close reading skills at the foundation of humanistic inquiry are well suited to support forms of sensemaking commensurate with the unique challenges of our century—but exploring connections or contradictions between texts can be challenging when those materials are digitized or involve other kinds of media. However, we in the Poetic Media Lab understand that the interactive options within digital platforms can be purposefully designed to encourage and steer the development of cross-media analytical skills as well as valuable active competencies such as reflective reading through annotation and critical marking. In our research and design work, the Poetic Media Lab addresses these urgent pedagogical and educational challenges, via projects such as the following:

Free Speech and the Digital Public Sphere: This project analyzes discourse about the German anti-hate speech law, NetzDG, on IT-blogs and websites. Our goal is to identify the most influential stakeholders in each respective subfield, their communication strategies, and the arguments they bring forward in order to bridge the divide between Germany and the U.S. in matters of digital policy. A research intern will assist with cleaning the data that we have collected so far and then gather background information on the blogs and websites. This data will be used to train a machine learning algorithm to identify passages in additional text corpora. Some experience in machine learning (Python or R) and topic modeling is preferred.

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic: At the core of the project, we have an open, online historical archive that houses personal written accounts in a wide range of languages from various countries. These stories document how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the lives of people from various backgrounds across the globe. Additionally, our website provides a space for different types of creative expression; personal stories, creative writing, blogs, and visual art. Our website is designed as an open education resource for students, educators, governments, organizations, and businesses to promote cultural solidarity and global interconnectedness with inclusivity at its center. We’re constantly striving to make our content as representative as possible and we can’t do this without the engagement and participation of our communities. In the next phase, research interns will assist with additional enhancement to LiQ, including “Teacher’s Area,” by developing content and occasionally engaging with social media.


Poetic Thinking: This project is meditation on how humanities discourse occurs and how technology can form those spaces of intellectual exchange. In summer 2020, a Poetic Thinking platform was designed collaboratively by students working with the Poetic Media Lab, to be utilized by students in Prof. Eshel’s courses this year.


Transit: Human Dignity and Visa Law and Policy: Despite the influence of visa law and policy, little research exists on its history and development. When, under what circumstances, and in which politico-geographical space did the “visa” come into existence? “Transit” uses literary and linguistic analysis to develop an intertextual canvas of visa histories. The final product, an interactive digital media map platform, will enable users to trace the development of visa law and policy across time and space. Further, “Transit” will help users to visualize the geo-political origins and historical evolution of the visa system through legal and literary data. Additionally, the digital platform will enable users to search specific text corpora between 1500 and 2008 in English, Chinese (simplified), French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Russian, and Spanish across single or multiple genres to understand the ways in which visa laws and policies impinged on fundamental human rights and dignities in various linguistic cultures. Research interns will help with cleaning data, compiling two corpora, organizing information, and creating visualization using Python. Familiarity with web scraping would be very helpful.

Senegalese Liberations Paper Project

Project Lead: Prof. Richard Roberts (History)

The Senegal Slave Liberations Project builds on the Slave Voyages Database, which has transformed the study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade by presenting the most comprehensive collection of individual slave trade voyages and the most complete set of evidence of African ports of embarkation and American ports of disembarkation. The Slave Voyages Database, however, tells us virtually nothing about slavery and the slave trade within Africa. The Senegal Slave Liberations Project provides a crucial counterpart to the Slave Voyages project in presenting evidence of slavery and the slave trade in the Senegambian, Mauritanian, and Malian region of West Africa during the second half of the 19th century. The evidence from the registers of liberations focuses on slaves who sought their own liberation under French colonial authority from 1857-1904. Our project involves three linked stages: it provides unique identification for each case of liberation, analyzes the data, and develops visualizations of the data to support academic research and innovative pedagogy.

The Research Intern’s current focus will be on coding the remaining 15,000 cases from a digital archive, visualizing the evidence, and developing the project website. The Research Intern  should have competence in French, ability to work with large N data, competence in website development and data visualization, and historical sensibilities.

Social Networks in Early Islamic World

Project Lead: Prof. Michael Penn (Religious Studies)

This particular project stems from the world’s largest alumni newsletter. That is, in the mid-ninth century Thomas, the East Syriac Bishop of Marga (a region in modern day Iraq), decided he would collect as many stories as he could concerning those who graduated from his home-monastery of Beth Abhe. Titled The Book of Governors, the resulting hagiography runs 685 pages and has just shy of 500 characters. It contains a treasure trove of information on topics ranging from Christian-Muslim relations, to medieval economic history, to ecclesiastical politics, to ancient pilgrimage routes. In addition to the value of this work’s content, The Book of Governors also makes for a particularly intriguing case study for social network analysis as this text is an amalgamation of data for what we’d consider historically plausible interactions (e.g. well-known abbots, caliphs, and theologians) alongside what we’d consider less plausible (e.g. teleporting trees, petrified dragons, and—in one case—a temporarily resurrected dog). That is, Thomas of Marga promiscuously mixed what we categorize as a historical network with a network of literary characters.

Previous CESTA interns have coded most of the social interactions and much of the geographic references for this work. Future research interns would contribute to additional data clean-up, attribute coding, data analysis, and literature review and also help prepare the work for publication. Some experience with social network analysis and GIS is preferred, but not required.

Text Technologies

Lab Director: 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? Text Technologies encompasses myriad subprojects, including Mapping Manuscripts, which seeks to find new ways of spatially presenting Early Medieval manuscript production. Through this project it will be possible to generate static and interactive maps that will take into account the fuzzy character of the Early Medieval manuscript data – their imprecise location and dating. The resulting database and maps will form not only a useful research and teaching tool but also provide a springboard for network visualization of Early Medieval manuscripts and scriptoria.

Working with faculty, advanced researchers, and staff in CESTA, the student may collaborate on one or more subprojects related to Text Technologies, as well assist the lab broadly. The research intern will contribute to research and data creation (i.e., translating data from manuscript catalogs into digital and/or machine-readable formats) and also learn data standardization, schema adaptation, and data preparation for R programming language. The Research Intern will also be integral in writing up recent case studies and to think through the current deployment of machine learning techniques on archival materials can be expanded and clarified.

Urban Studies and Practice of Theory

Project Lead: Prof. Ato Quayson (English)

Deploying an interdisciplinary focus that draws on geography, ethnographic observation, archival and historical research, along with perspectives from literary criticism and cultural studies, this project will refocus the discussion of the various cities under study in ways that have gained scant attention in the published literature. The project will focus on an immersion in the archives, streets, and transport systems of Accra, Hong Kong, and New York to start with. The project is going to marry theoretical concepts directly to everyday research practice. This will be done by attending to the relationships between high streets and business districts, street life, spatial logics, and the character of inequalities that are inextricably entangled with these cities. The project will also have a special interest in the apparent messiness and banality of migration and settlement for understanding each of these cities.

Research Interns will extract and catalog information about these cities from online maps and databases and utilize tools such as Open Street Map and Open Refine to create historically layered maps of the selected streets. By understanding the trends that appear in the physical landscapes of these streets, we can begin to understand the history and social makeup of the surrounding regions and the city as a whole. Eventually, the project will shift to focus on other cities and their high streets with the end goal of formulating a comparative analysis of multiple urban landscapes.

Visible Bodies

Project Lead: Prof. Joel Cabrita (History)

Where are the African female writers of the twentieth century? This project addresses the critical issue of the invisibility of female authors within established canons of twentieth-century African literature, and it urgently seeks to remedy the extent to which women-authored bodies of work from this period continues to be lost, misplaced, forgotten, and ignored. Entitled “Visible Bodies”, the project thus aims to give greater visibility to hitherto marginalized bodies of work. An interdisciplinary team of historians, literary scholars, and archivists will create a critical digital archive displaying the key work of largely unknown 20th-century African female writers. The archive will be aimed at scholars and the general public, especially emphasizing audiences on the African continent. Phase One of the project will digitize and curate the output of Regina Twala (1908-68), an important South African-Swazi politician and activist who wrote four manuscripts, none of which were published.

Research interns will help identify, digitize, and catalog selected extracts from the written output of the Swazi-South African writer, Regina Twala, and assist with the creation of a digital archive to curate, explain, and display this material for public consumption. Familiarity with Notion is desirable; an interest in issues around gender and representation in the arts is preferred.

Women in Provenance

Project Lead: Dr. Christina Hodge (Stanford University Archaeology Collections, SUAC)

SUAC’s new Women in Provenance project will mine museum records to make women’s hidden contributions to Stanford’s collections visible and to investigate the impact of women on museum-based knowledge production. Its main methodology is to add collectors’ genders and other biographical information to provenance metadata, which typically only includes name and sometimes title. We are working toward an interactive digital finding aid that will use this new metadata to present provenance as nuanced and intersectionally gendered (exp. with race, age, education, profession, location). By analyzing patterning in aggregated provenance data over our 125+ history, a second outcome will be new, critical scholarship on the gendering of academic knowledge and its relationship to modernity.

The project is in its first stages, meaning students will have a chance to collaboratively shape methods and design. We will begin with a pilot from SUAC’s global collection of over 100,000 artifacts. Women in Provenance has the potential to incorporate other collections at Stanford and beyond. The research intern should have an interest in humanistic data/metadata and will work with museum archives, database records, and external primary and secondary research sources. They will further use digital humanities tools to review, prepare, analyze, and interpret provenance information and present it in an interactive digital finding aid/data visualization. An interest in museums, archaeology, history, heritage, or gender studies is beneficial but not required. They may also use quantitative coding methods, in which some background in CS and/or statistics would be helpful.

Back to top