The Digital Seeds Speaker Series is a library funded program that supports the invitation of guest speakers in the digital scholarship community to speak at Falvey Memorial Library about their research and/or give a workshop on a topic of their choice. The goal of the speaker series is to provide an opportunity for Villanova faculty, staff, and students to learn more about digital scholarship and research at the intersection of social science, humanities computing, and data science. The lectures are open to the public and all Villanova faculty, staff, and students to attend. The series is a great way to make connections, build community, and facilitate conversation.


Past SpeakerS and Lectures

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Kate McDonald image

Bodies and Structures 2.0: Scalar and the Practice of Digital Spatial History

Speaker
David R. Ambaras, PhD, N.C. State University and
Kate McDonald, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara
Spring 2022

Title

Bodies and Structures 2.0: Scalar and the Practice of Digital Spatial History

The fundamental intervention of spatial humanistic scholarship is the notion that space is multi-vocal — that places are made up of layers of meaning and history; that layers of place produce distinct geographic footprints and sets of spatial relationships; and that one’s social-historical positionality or “body” shapes how one encounters particular spatial “structures.” Launched in 2021, Bodies and Structures 2.0 examines the dynamics of place- and space-making in modern East Asia. In this presentation, we will discuss how we developed Bodies and Structures 2.0’s unique combination of individually-authored modules and collectively-curated conceptual maps and visualizations and how we used the open-source Scalar platform to build our multivocal project.

Speakers' Bios:

David Ambaras, PhD, is a Professor of History at North Carolina State University. His research explores the social history of modern Japan and its empire, particularly through a focus on transgression and marginality. He is the author of Japan’s Imperial Underworlds: Intimate Encounters at the Borders of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Bad Youth: Juvenile Delinquency and the Politics of Everyday Life in Modern Japan (University of California Press, 2006); and articles and book chapters on class formation, urban space, wartime mobilization, and ethnic intermarriage. He is the co-director of the digital project Bodies and Structures: Deep-mapping Modern East Asian History. Ambaras holds a Ph. D. from Princeton University, and degrees from the University of Tokyo, the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Paris), and Columbia University. He is recipient of fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kate McDonald, PhD, is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and co-director of the Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History project. She is the author of Placing Empire: Travel and the Social Imagination in Imperial Japan (California, 2017) and currently serves as the Associate Editor for Japan at the Journal of Asian Studies.

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Toward Urban Data Justice: Auditing the Racial Politics of Data

Speaker
Matthew Bui, PhD, University of Michigan
Spring 2022

Title
Toward Urban Data Justice: Auditing the Racial Politics of Data

What is the role of (open and big) data in enacting, facilitating, and/or limiting racial justice within an increasingly datafied society? This talk explores the relationship between marginalized communities of color and data, foregrounding questions about power, inequality, and justice.

First, I will briefly touch on a study that proposes a typology of community-based engagements with, and disengagements from, data for racial justice: namely, data use, re-use, and refusal. Building on this work and considering the politics of data re-use and refusal to keep powerful actors accountable, I will discuss in detail a second longer-term project exploring questions of algorithmic accountability and the predatory nature of data-driven systems: specifically, a study that aims to audit and examine online targeted ads as racially discriminatory by nature.

In all, this work theorizes and conceptualizes “urban data justice” as a community-engaged vision and reparative praxis in response to what my team and I are conceptualizing as “algorithmic discrimination”. In all, I ask: how do we tell stories with—and about—data? Who benefits from dominant narratives? How can we subvert unequal power relations within—and of—data? What new methods, frameworks, and language do we need for these endeavors?

Speaker Bio:

Matthew Bui (he/him), PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher and incoming assistant professor (starting Fall 2022) at the University of Michigan School of Information. He also holds faculty affiliations with the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and NYU Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies. Bui’s research examines the potential for, and barriers to, urban data justice, foregrounding the racial politics of data-driven technologies, policy, and platforms. He is currently leading a study about racial discrimination and targeted ads and launching a new project that explores how entrepreneurs of color navigate algorithmic bias. His research has received recognition and support from the Annenberg Foundation, Benton Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Kauffman Foundation; and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC).

Previously, Bui was a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Tech and received his PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. He also holds graduate certification in geographic information science, an MSc in Media and Communication Research from the London School of Economics, and a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

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Libraries of Babel: An Expansive Future for the Humanities

Speaker
Ted Underwood, PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Spring 2021

Title
Libraries of Babel: An Expansive Future for the Humanities

The last twelve months have not been kind to optimists. It may sound especially implausible to predict a bright future for the humanities right now, since enrollment and hiring are down in many disciplines. But, as paradoxical as it sounds, we are living in an age of unprecedented opportunity for the study of culture and history. Some of the opportunities are well publicized: for instance, digital libraries have opened up fundamental new research questions for literary scholars. I'll give examples of that work, but the broader point of this talk is to propose that we're living through a digital transformation that will matter for everyone, not just for academic researchers. In making it possible to explore culture as a latent space—a space of possibility—machine learning facilitates a kind of creative play that is akin to rigorous self-understanding. This is good news for the humanities, although our disciplinary institutions are admittedly struggling to seize the opportunity.

Speaker Bio:

Ted Underwood is a professor in the School of Information Sciences at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and also holds an appointment with the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. After writing two books that describe eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature using familiar critical methods, he turned to new research opportunities created by large digital libraries. Since that time, his research has explored literary patterns that become visible across long timelines, when we consider hundreds or thousands of books at once. He recently used machine learning, for instance, to trace the consolidation of detective fiction and science fiction as distinct genres, and to describe the shifting assumptions about gender revealed in literary characterization from 1780 to the present. He has authored three books about literary history, Distant Horizons (The University of Chicago Press Books, 2019), Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies (Stanford University Press, 2013), and The Work of the Sun: Literature, Science and Political Economy 1760-1860 (New York: Palgrave, 2005). Website: https://tedunderwood.com/

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Mapping Indigenous Landowners in 19th-Century Los Angeles: Historicizing GIS and the Public Land Survey System

Speaker
Julia Lewandoski, PhD, California State University, San Marcos
Spring 2021

Title
Mapping Indigenous Landowners in 19th-Century Los Angeles: Historicizing GIS and the Public Land Survey System

After the 1848 U.S. conquest of Mexican California, the federal government negotiated, but declined to ratify treaties with Indigenous peoples in California. Tongva, Tataviam, and Chumash peoples around Los Angeles turned to property ownership to keep communities intact and in important places for decades, generating local property maps of their lands. This project uses ArcGIS to locate, layer, and analyze property maps of Indigenous land in southern California. These local property maps show the persistent existence of important Indigenous places. They also challenge understandings of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) as a visual project that replaced Indigenous geographies with rationalized settler space. Indigenous properties and landscapes are clearly visible on historic maps, and in the patterns of the present-day PLSS. Their presence raises questions for GIS practitioners about the tensions between social and mathematical frameworks for locating peoples and places.

Speaker Bio:

Julia Lewandoski is a historian of early North America and is an Assistant Professor at California State University, San Marcos. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in History and the Digital Humanities at the University of Southern California. She received her PhD in History with a designated emphasis in Science and Technology Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in August 2019. Her dissertation was awarded the 2019 prize by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR). Her current book project explores how small Indigenous nations across North America exploited imperial transitions to defend land as property in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is also at work on a digital companion to the book project, using GIS to examine how Indigenous property has been mapped and measured. Website: https://www.julialewandoski.com/

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Experimental Publishing, Then and Now

Speaker
Whitney Trettien, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Fall 2020

Title
Experimental Publishing, Then and Now

When we consider the role of the (digital) humanities today, we do so from within a fragmented field where the center no longer holds. This moment of creative destruction presents an opportunity to shift into a new register - one defined not by minute clefts between theories or methods but by a renewed commitment to how we compose and share our work. Specifically, how we publish - how we use media to make public the stories we spin about texts and their past lives. Drawing on her own experiments in creative/critical publishing (including most recently with the Manifold platform), as well as the deep history of writing with scissors and paste, Trettien will chart the politics, praxis, and urgency of digital publishing today.

Speaker Bio:

Whitney Trettien is an Assistant Professor of English at University of Pennsylvania. She researches the history of the book and other text technologies from print to digital. Her work is invested in exploring the past to better understand our present media environment. Her forthcoming book Cut/Copy/Paste — being staged on the Manifold Scholarship platform through University of Minnesota Press — identifies three fringe communities that assembled books from fragments of paper media in the seventeenth century. Using digital methods, Trettien's work places these seemingly idiosyncratic textual practices and their materialist poetics within a broader field of literary production. She has published on textile metaphors in the poetry of Isabella Whitney, print-on-demand publishing and Milton's Areopagitica, and digital humanities, and has co-edited Provoke!, a web-based collection of sonic scholarship. A print companion, Digital Sound Studies, is forthcoming from Duke University Press. She is also the co-editor and co-designer of thresholds, an occasional digital zine for creative/critical interventions. Trettien received her PhD from Duke University and has an MS in Comparative Media Studies from MIT.

Emerging Research Tactics for Humanities

Speaker
Julia Flanders, PhD, Northeastern University
Fall 2019

Title
Emerging Research Tactics for Humanities

The Women Writers Project — a digital research collection focused on early modern women's writing in English — was designed at a time when digital methods were in their infancy, and has evolved with the field of digital humanities. What kinds of research does such a collection make possible, now that digital methods are maturing and are taking root in humanities departments? What debates animate the ongoing development of collections like this one? How do the politics of digital tools manifest in these research spaces? This presentation will examine the Women Writers Project and the social and technical systems that support it, and also discuss the starting points and design agendas for institutions and scholars seeking to establish new digital scholarship programs.

Speaker Bio:

Julia Flanders is a professor of the practice in English and the director of the Digital Scholarship Group in the Northeastern University Library. She also directs the Women Writers Project and serves as editor in chief of Digital Humanities Quarterly, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal of digital humanities. Her apprenticeship in digital humanities began at the Women Writers Project in the early 1990s and continued with work on the development of digital humanities organizations such as the Text Encoding Initiative and the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. She has served as chair of the TEI Consortium and as President of the Association for Computers and the Humanities. Her research interests focus on data modeling, textual scholarship, humanities data curation, and the politics of digital scholarly work.

Labor, Exchange, Manumission, and Sales: The Enslaved Community Owned and Sold

Speaker
Sharon Leon, PhD, Michigan State University
Spring 2019

Title
Labor, Exchange, Manumission, and Sales: The Enslaved Community Owned and Sold

In the Jesuit Plantation Project, Sharon Leon focuses on the lives and experiences of the enslaved community owned and sold in 1838 by the Maryland Province Jesuits. With an eye to the events and relationships that formed the warp and woof of the daily lives of this enslaved community, Leon has worked to identify more than 1,000 individual enslaved people present in the documentary evidence between roughly 1740 and 1840. The project employs linked open data and an array of techniques to visualize the entire community of enslaved people and their relationships to one another across space and time.

Speaker Bio:

Sharon M. Leon is an Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University, where she specializes in digital public history. Dr. Leon is also the director of the Omeka family of web publishing platforms. Prior to joining the History Department at MSU, Dr. Leon spent over thirteen years at George Mason University's History Department at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media as Director of Public Projects.