Who we are

Paul Israel (Thomas Edison Papers), Director, Digital Humanities Initiative

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.

Brittney Cooper (Women’s and Gender Studies)

Brittney Cooper is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies. She is a Black feminist theorist who specializes in the study of Black women’s intellectual history, Hip Hop generation feminism, and race and gender representation in popular culture. She is also a co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective, a popular feminist blog.

Francesca Giannetti (New Brunswick Libraries)

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. My research interests include digital libraries, audio preservation, opera and libretto studies, and digital humanities pedagogy.

Andrew Goldstone (English)

I am interested in computer-aided methods for the sociology of literature. I am working on a study of the system of popular genre fiction in English since 1900. 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. I taught Rutgers’s first course in literary data analysis in spring 2015.

Meredith McGill (English)

I am interested in what book history, literary studies, media studies, and digital humanities can teach one other.  I have an essay forthcoming in Turns of Event: American Literary Studies in Motion (UPenn, 2016) exploring the overlapping histories and possible futures of these fields of study.  I’m also interested in using new media to solve old problems, such as the dearth of reliable bibliographic information on the works of African American authors, and the problem of training the next generation of scholars in bibliographic methods.  I’m hoping to develop two different digital interfaces for the Black Bibliography Project I’m co-running with Jacqueline Goldsby (Yale). In Spring 2016 I was a Class of 1932 Fellow of the Council of the Humanities, the Department of English, and the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University.

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)

My scholarly interests are in the cultural history of the nineteenth-century United States and the history of science and technology, and my research focuses on knowledge production in the late nineteenth century. My current book project, Looking Forward: Prediction and Uncertainty in Modern America, examines the economic and epistemological implications of forecasting as well as the relationships between forecasting practices and ideas about predictability and uncertainty. My interests in the digital humanities revolve around pedagogy, visualization, and spatial history. This year I am working on a digital mapping project that will use CartoDB to visualize expanding meteorological infrastructures as a form of state-building in the late-nineteenth-century United States.

Henry Turner (English)

I work in the areas of Renaissance literature, theater, philosophy, and science and am interested in the big methodological questions raised for literary studies by the digital humanities. How are the objects of our analysis reconfigured by big data projects? How can the digital humanities add to our micro, close, or structural habits of reading individual works? What happens to interpretation in the wake of digital humanities: what does it mean, how do we do it and toward what ends? How does DH shift our notions of literary value, understanding this at once as a semiotic idea, a set of cultural norms, and a field of ethical investigation? I am especially interested in fostering conversations between literature and computer science: as a way of illuminating ideas that are trans- or pre-disciplinary (e.g. complexity, structure, form, value, scale, hypothesis) and for comparing problems of pedagogy (e.g. teaching code as a form of composition). I’m interested in both the large-scale, institutional implications of all these problems but also in their individual, imaginative dimension and inventive possibilities. A brief review essay on an e-edition of More’s Utopia has some of my reflections on digital humanities, MOOCs, and public institutions.

Andrew Urban (American Studies and History)

Trained as a historian of migration, labor, and empire, my forthcoming book, Brokering Servitude: Migration and Political Economies of Domesticity in the United States, 1850-1924 (NYU Press, 2017), examines the cultural and political debates that surrounded the commodification of waged servitude in the United States, and attempts to regulate markets for the hire of household labor. As a teacher and practitioner of the digital humanities, I have been involved in a number of curatorial projects at Rutgers. Chinese Exclusion in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present is a digital exhibit that I curated with Rutgers undergraduates in an immigration history course, which uses original records from the National Archives and other sources to examine how restrictive policies had an impact on Chinese communities in New Jersey. In the American Studies department, along with Chris Rzigalinski, I co-founded the American Studies Media Culture Program (ASMCP), which provides students with a digital platform to explore issues pertaining to American culture and history. Under the auspices of this initiative, American Studies’ students completed a community-engaged, collaborative project with the George Street Playhouse titled Mapping New Brunswick Memories, which used oral histories to digitally map the cultural geography of New Brunswick and how the local landscape has changed over time. Most recently, I worked with the Rutgers Libraries and the New Jersey Digital Highway to curate the digital exhibition: “Invisible Restraints: Life and Labor at Seabrook Farms.” Focusing on Seabrook Farms, a frozen foods agribusiness in southern New Jersey, the exhibit examines the complicated relationship between captive labor and capitalism that defined the company’s employment practices in the period surrounding the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, and its recruitment of interned Japanese Americans, guestworkers from the British West Indies, and European Displaced Persons.

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 currently led by Paul Israel and 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 (see the Center for History and New Media), 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.