Who we are

Francesca Giannetti (New Brunswick Libraries), initiative co-director

I pursue topics at the intersection of information studies, digital humanities, and music. Working with a musicologist, a music librarian, and a digital humanities project developer, I am developing a digital research environment called Music Scholarship Online (MuSO), a contributing node of the Advanced Research Consortium (ARC) whose aims are to improve the dissemination of digital scholarly outputs in music as well as develop a peer review framework for the evaluation of digital work in musicology and music history. My digital projects mostly relate to digital editions and text encoding; two editions are in progress—the Still Papers and the War Service Bureau Correspondence. I am the maintainer of the Directory of Digital Scholarship in Music. My research interests include digital libraries, audio preservation, opera and libretto studies, and digital humanities pedagogy.

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (History), initiative co-director

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan is a public historian and scholar of early American social history. She coordinates the History Department’s Public History Program, including the Certificate in Public History and Public History Internship, and is also an Associate Graduate Faculty Member in the Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies Program. She holds a PhD in History from the University of Leicester and an MA in Modern History from Queens University Belfast, and researches poverty, labor, mobility, crime and punishment in the early American northeast, as well as public historical and commemorative representations of these subjects. O’Brassill-Kulfan is the author of Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic (New York University Press, 2019). She has previously worked as an archivist and research analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives, and with museums, archives, and libraries in the US and the UK curating exhibits, managing archival collections, and creating inclusive public programming. She regularly consults on public history projects in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Andrew Goldstone (English)

My research and teaching focus on twentieth-century literature in English, with a special interest in the sociology of literature, for which both digitized archives and computational methods are significant. I am currently working on a history of popular fiction genres in English since 1890. In other work, I have used machine learning to understand the history of scholarship; two projects can be explored online: Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies and a collaboration with Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. The underlying software, dfr-browser, is available as open source. I taught Rutgers’s first course in literary data analysis in spring 2015.

Paul Israel (Thomas Edison Papers)

I am director of the Thomas A. Edison Papers, which includes a book edition of transcribed and annotated documents and an online digital image edition. My major interest in DH is extending the usefulness of our editions. In that connection, members of the editorial team have been writing essays drawn from research for our book edition that examine Edison and Innovation and that link to key documents in both the book image editions. We are currently developing a crowdsourcing transcription project to enable more Edison Papers manuscripts to be made keyword searchable and easier to read. We are also interested in finding ways to make the Edison Papers more accessible for digital pedagogy. Among our efforts is a Google map of Thomas Edison’s New Jersey which includes summaries and historic images. We are also looking to develop additional research tools, including a virtual Edison library project that would include Edison’s marginalia from his library books and provide information drawn from the Papers about how the books were used in the laboratory research by Edison and his staff.

Meredith McGill (English)

Meredith L. McGill’s research and teaching focuses on American literature, book and media history, and poetry and poetics. She is the author of American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1837-1853 (2003; repr. 2007) a study of nineteenth-century American resistance to tight control over intellectual property. She has edited two collections of essays: Taking Liberties with the Author (2013), which explores the persistence of the author as a shaping force in literary criticism, and The Traffic in Poems: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Transatlantic Exchange (2008), in which a variety of scholars model ways of understanding nineteenth-century poetry within a transatlantic frame. Her overview of the last thirty-five years of scholarship on book history and intellectual property can be found in Book History 16 (2013). She is currently completing a study of poetry and mass-culture in the antebellum US.

Andrew Parker (French and Comparative Literature)

My research concerns the history and practices of literary theory, especially post-war theory in France and its world-wide dissemination. From this perspective, I’m interested in the digital humanities for the ways that it helps to decenter “the primacy of the human subject,” the expectation that consciousness is both the ground and the goal of cultural analysis. Current work includes preparation for an online, bilingual edition of Julio Cortázar’s iconic novel Rayuela/Hopscotch (1963), an experiment in aleatory narrative that seems, today, to have been made for a digital environment.

Jamie Pietruska (History)

I am a historian of nineteenth-century American culture, science, and technology who works on knowledge production, information networks and knowledge infrastructures, histories of the future, and bureaucracy. I earned my PhD from the Program in History, Anthropology, & STS at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I am currently an associate professor in the History Department at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where I teach courses in the histories of science, technology, and environment, including Accidents & Disasters in the US & the World, Technology & Nature in American History, Data: A Social History, and History of the Future. I am a member of the steering committee for the Rutgers Digital Humanities Initiative and am currently working on a digital history project on the spatial history of nineteenth-century American meteorological infrastructure. I am also a member of the steering committee for the Rutgers Critical AI Initiative. My first book, Looking Forward: Prediction and Uncertainty in Modern America (University of Chicago Press, 2017), is a history of forecasting that explores how the routinized predictions of everyday life functioned as new forms of knowledge and tools for risk management as late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Americans came to believe in the promise and accept the limitations of predicting the future. I am currently researching a book project entitled “Data Driven: Information and Investigation in the Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century United States.” For more on my scholarly work and public outreach, please visit my website.

Leah Price

Leah Price is the founder and director of the Rutgers Initiative for the Book. She teaches the novel, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and occasionally French culture, and book history. Her books include What We Talk About When We Talk About Books(Basic Books, 2019), How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain (Princeton UP, 2012; Patten Prize, Channing Prize, honorable mention for James Russell Lowell Prize) and The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel (Cambridge UP, 2000). She also edited Unpacking my Library: Writers and their Books (Yale UP, 2011); Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture (with Pamela Thurschwell); and (with Seth Lerer) a cluster of essays of PMLA on The History of the Book and the Idea of Literature. Leah writes for the New York Times Book Review, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe and Public Books (where she is also a section editor), and designed the nineteenth-century module for HarvardX’s online course on the history of the book.

Sean Silver (English)

Sean Silver teaches the literature and culture of the British seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Rutgers Department of English. Related interests include complex systems, the history of science, the origins of the museum, cognitive studies, and the history of ideas and craft practices. He is the author of The Mind Is a Collection, which traces the history of our most prevalent mental models. The book is the exhibit catalogue of a virtual museum, www.mindisacollection.org.  He is working currently on reimaging the early British novel as a genre for modeling complex social systems, applying graph theory to eighteenth-century character systems (and vice versa).  He teaches a course variously called “Reading With Your Laptop” or “Hacking for Humanists,” in which students learn the programming language “R,” and apply their new skills to develop fresh and innovative interpretations of one or more literary texts.

Andrew Urban (American Studies and History)

Andy Urban is an Associate Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, with a focus on migration, labor, and the public and digital humanities. Andy’s current research focuses on the history of Seabrook Farms, a frozen foods agribusiness in southern New Jersey that recruited and employed incarcerated Japanese Americans, guestworkers from the British West Indies, migrant farmworkers from the US South, European Displaced Persons, and stateless Japanese Peruvians during the 1940s and 1950s. His work on Seabrook Farms is the subject of an online exhibition hosted by the New Jersey Digital Highway, which he curated with Rutgers’ students. Andy is now working with the Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center on an initiative aimed at reimagining how Seabrook Farms’ history can be made relevant to contemporary audiences. As a professor and curator, Andy has also worked with Rutgers students on the following digital exhibitions: Chinese Exclusion in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present; History Workshop: Immigration Case Files and Stories of Restriction and Deportation; and Living in a Digital World: How Rutgers Uses Technology. Andy serves on the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Executive Board and is the Vice President of the New Brunswick chapter of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union.

Alessandro Vettori (Italian)

My research is at the intersection of literature, spirituality, and autobiography in the Middle Ages. Publishing annotated medieval manuscripts is much better served by digital editions than paper copies, so I am very intrigued by the possibility a digital text offers.

About the Rutgers Digital Humanities Initiative

Founded by Ann Fabian and Meredith McGill in 2012, the Digital Humanities Initiative supports digital humanities projects in research, teaching, and public outreach at Rutgers. Our programming includes a regular schedule of events, including workshops, lectures, and conferences. The DHI is directed by an interdisciplinary group of scholars drawn from across the School of Arts and Sciences and the New Brunswick Libraries.

What is DH?

The interdisciplinary field of Digital Humanities began to be defined as such in the late 1990s, emerging out of the more narrowly defined field of Humanities Computing. Scholarship in the Digital Humanities brings digital tools to bear on traditional humanistic areas of study and prompts critical reflection, in the best tradition of the humanities, on the digital mediation of modern life. DH work differs in emphasis, from tool- and application-building, to the use of such tools to assemble, transform, or manipulate digital archives, to the use of computational methods to advance or question conventional methods of analysis, to the critical scrutiny of our computer-mediated culture. Digital Humanities can be broken down into disciplinary specialties that map onto familiar departmental divisions, including Digital History, Digital Art History, and Digital Literary Studies.

Digital humanities projects in literary and historical studies currently cluster in the following areas:

  • Textual analysis: digital editions of literary texts; websites that invite linguistic, social, and historical analysis of literary works; text aggregation sites that link author or subject-oriented digital collections; and the development of tools for digital textual analysis.
  • Geospatial approaches to literary texts and historical problems.
  • Network Analysis of literary texts and historical problems.
  • Data-mining of large corpora for insights into genres, discourses, and the sociology of knowledge.
  • The creation of small or middle-sized archives of digitized texts, often in close collaboration with libraries, designed to serve particular groups of scholars.
  • Digital projects whose aim is primarily pedagogical, often undertaken with civic or public humanities goals in mind.

Digital Humanities as a field sustains a number of journals (Digital Humanities Quarterly, Digital Studies / Le champ numérique), annual conferences (Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations), and on-line discussion boards (Digital Humanities Slack). Digital Humanities scholars have been important voices in debates over new forms of scholarly communication, including Open Access and open peer review; they have been centrally involved in crafting guidelines for the evaluation of digital scholarship for promotion and tenure.