Tag Archives: student

What’s Next

sunset

I’m now wrapping up my day by looking over some conference CFPs, clearing out old email, and editing my paper for EVA London. As #DayofDH comes to an end, I find myself thinking of the future. Even though we KCL MADHers still have a dissertation and exams to complete before we officially finish our program, we’re already thinking about next life steps. What does someone do with a Master’s in Digital Humanities? The answer: almost anything.

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but we live in a time when technological skills are valued in most industries, and plenty of companies like to hire students with humanities backgrounds. MADH alums have found themselves in academia, in the cultural heritage sector, in publishing, and in other web-related industries. (If you’re curious, there are some profiles of KCL DDH MA students that will give you a little insight into the different types of students who’ve attended KCL for Digital Humanities and what they’ve done since graduating.)

For myself, I’ve got a few different irons in the fire, but any one of them I hope will lead me on to further postgraduate study and/or employment in which my MA in DH will be of use. Two thing I know for certain: I know that it would have taken me much much longer to learn what I know now, if at all, if I had tried to teach myself DH skills (even using MOOCs), and getting a formal education in DH means that I, my peers, and our potential employers can officially recognize the DH knowledge we’ve gained and work we’ve accomplished.

Apart from the valuable experience that is KCL’s MADH program itself, I believe that taking advantage of the growing number of DH courses, programs, and degrees offered by universities around the world (whether at the undergraduate or postgraduate or even professorial levels) is beneficial to aspiring DHers. Let’s take as much advantage as we possibly can of the paths already pioneered so that we can be better equipped to forge new paths further into the DH jungle.

By the way, if you’re interested in seeing a consolidation of tweets from today, check out a Storify of #DayofDH here: http://storify.com/daliaguerreiro/dayofdh-1

Dissertating

visualizing

KCL MA dissertations are due in September, which is sneaking up fast! We’ve already turned in our proposals and begun our final work for the program. To keep myself organized and have a place I can’t lose in which to brainstorm, I’m using the large bulletin board in my room. I’ve been adding and shifting the cards around as I build the skeleton of my project. This will get much messier as the summer progresses.

KCL MADHers must complete 12-15,000 word essays as well as digital projects for our dissertations. Our dissertations should seek to answer a humanities question but should also analyze our building process and resulting digital project. As you can see from the picture, the tentative title for my dissertation is “Visualizing the New Woman.” I’m sure there will be a colon and a subtitle to follow when all is said and done, but I’m keeping it simple for now. Essentially, my dissertation will involve my applying natural language processing and other digital tools to a selection of New Woman texts, the goal being to trace the evolution of the term “New Woman” over time and to map authorial influences. I’ll then use data visualization to show these results. Both the visualizations and further in depth research will be compiled into a website designed for both academic and general public uses.

I’ll be presenting my work in progress in July at the Research Workshop at EVA London in July, and I hope to present the final work in the fall in the US.

 

Why KCL?

lndnbrdgmarketI took a break from outlining to eat lunch and go to the market. The KCL Guy’s Campus has a farmer’s market on Tuesdays that is one of my favorite markets because it’s relatively small and not nearly as crowded as nearby Borough Market. They sell meat, bread, and produce as well as street food. Yum!

Before I get back to researching and outline my essay, which by the way will discuss whether digital methodologies used in humanities research can or should be purely empirical or whether they ought to be recognized as methods aiding interpretation rather than pure explanation, I’ll tell you a little bit more about my experience and why I chose KCL.

I first learned about Digital Humanities a few years ago while working at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. As part of its programming, the FHI hosts regular lectures, seminars, and workshops with visiting scholars. It also provides a space for Duke faculty and students to collaborate on both traditional humanities and digital humanities projects and hosts the Duke branch of HASTAC and CHCI. These projects and events, to which I provided technical and logistical support, introduced me to the DH world and inspired me to actually return to school to study DH.

Fast forward a bit to my acceptance to KCL’s MADH program (only one of several MA programs, and KCL also offers a PhD in DH as well as a BA beginning this fall). I chose to attend KCL’s program because its emphasis is on maintaining a strong link between DH and other humanities discipline. The Department of Digital Humanities trains its MADH students such that we don’t just become the technical support for DH projects, though we are certainly capable of this role. Rather, its aim is that we be able to bridge the common divide between developers/programmers and scholars/project managers. This means that we are taught both practical and theoretical aspects of DH in equal amounts and expected to be able to both build DH projects and analyze them.

This approach to DH training has important implications for the future of humanities research–in both academic and cultural heritage settings. It can mean that future DH projects in which KCL MADHers take part may not have to deal with some of the communications issues that have been so common to earlier DH projects and may profit considerably from the input of scholars who can bridge the divide between practical and theoretical work.

For me, being able to span this divide is important to not only DH and the humanities at large but also many other professions in the twenty-first century. In a world in which we are constantly pushing the envelope, seeking better, more creative solutions, we must have people who are able to see multiple aspects to a problem and find the best possible answer. (In case you’re wondering, my ascription to this ideology goes back to my undergraduate studies at Warren Wilson College, which uses a unique Triad model of academics, work, and service to educate its students.)

Greetings from King’s College London

the-viewGood Morning! I’m getting a bit of a late start posting because I’ve been spending my morning outlining an essay for one of my spring modules, Digital Approaches to Literature. At King’s the spring term has already finished, but exams are due in a few weeks. So this is where you’ll find me most days if I’m not hiding out in a cubby hole in Maughan Library.

Besides my multiple screen usage and some of the books on my desk, (Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees is currently resting atop Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism)  it’s probably fair to say that this could be any humanities postgraduate’s desk. And to a certain degree studying Digital Humanities can be like studying other “traditional” humanities disciplines. My academic background lies in literature and theatre, so the majority of my DH studies has been geared toward continuing these studies, adding a meta-level of digital techniques and theories to my research. This includes my dissertation, which I’ll post about later today.

For now, though, I’ll explain a little bit about the modules I have taken. The King’s MADH program is structured so that each full-time student must take two core modules and then select four optional modules, one of which may be an internship. (Side note–Professor Paul Spence will be posting about KCL’s Department of Digital Humanities today, so do check out his posts here.) Each module focuses on different practical and theoretical aspects of DH studies, with the core modules surveying many of these areas, but their subject matter does tend to overlap enabling students to draw interesting connections across topics, methodologies, and analyses. The modules that incorporate a practical component, which many of them do, are structured so that class time is divided between lectures, lab sessions, and seminars.

Being particularly interested in gaining a variety of practical skills with which to study literature, I participated in modules that taught me how to build relational databases; structure information using semantic web technologies (RDF); create web documents using HTML, CSS, and other web technologies; encode texts using TEI and XML; and create programs using Python. While these sit on just the tip of the iceberg of potential tools that can be utilized for DH research, they’ve given me a strong foundation on which to add further skills and knowledge. If you’re interested in reading the individual module descriptions for yourself, you can check them out here.

9 Days and Counting…

…until you get to find out what it’s like to study Digital Humanities at King’s College London!

I’m a MA student there with a background in English and Theatre and particular interest in Gender Studies (though I’m also interested in History and Art). I discovered DH through my previous employment and decided it would be a fascinating way to continue to explore the humanities and arts. I’m looking forward to sharing with you my experiences of the past year and my plans for the future!