RRCHNM Leads Getty and NEH Digital Humanities Summer Institutes

RRCHNM Leads Getty and NEH Digital Humanities Summer Institutes
A wordcloud create from posts by participants in Doing Digital History

This summer, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History in New Media (RRCHNM) was busy preparing, coordinating, and leading two separate summer institutes. In July, an enthusiastic group of 23 art historians, librarians, and museum professionals gathered in Fairfax for “Rebuilding the Portfolio,” funded by the Getty Foundation as part of a pilot program in faculty training in digital art history. In August, 23 mid-career American historians arrived on the Arlington campus for “Doing Digital History, an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Both institutes ran for two full weeks. Few of the participants expected to keep up with the workload of the intensive curriculum, but everyone left as digital ambassadors with new skills, new understandings of digital methodologies, and a new appreciation for the work required to build and sustain successful digital humanities projects. Associate Professor Sharon Leon and Research Assistant Professor Sheila Brennan led both projects and developed a specialized curricula designed to introduce digital novice art historians and historians, already established in their fields, to digital humanities scholarship, methods, and tools relevant to their own research and teaching. Readings and discussions were coupled with demonstrations and hands-on work. Each participant created her own web domain, installed WordPress, and started blogging on Day 1.

Over the two weeks, they also installed RRCHNM’s Zotero and Omeka software, and learned to annotate images, plot maps, tidy their data, and visualize that data in different forms. Megan Brett, Stephanie Grimes, Celeste Sharpe, and Spencer Roberts drew on their own digital work as graduate students in the history and art history program by leading demonstrations and supporting the participants in countless ways. For example, Roberts created the “Historian’s Spreadsheet,” a guide to using simple functions in Excel for tidying data that was then widely circulated on Twitter and highlighted as a resource in the National Council on Public History’s weekly newsletter to its members.

Both institutes featured instructors from RRCHNM and Mason’s History and Art History department who shared their digital humanities expertise with participants, including Rob DeCaroli, Michele Greet, Lincoln Mullen, , Mike O’Malley, Lisa Rhody, and Joan Troyano. The curriculum for each institute is available online, together with posts written by participants during the institutes. For more information, see: http://arthistory2014.doingdh.org and http://history2014.doingdh.org.