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Digital Humanities (DH) is widely considered as an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the humanities. This is a possible definition of the term: “Engaging technology as a humanist and using technology to engage everything else as humanist; or, being a humanities scholar in the modern, technology-mediated world.” Carl Stahmer (participant, Day of DH)

That said, there is no single, universally agreed-upon definition of what constitutes Digital Humanities. Instead, scholars all over the world have come up with their own individual definitions. Some of these definitions can be viewed on the What is DH? site. A new definition is displayed each time you refresh the page.

This subsite of AUC Libraries provides information on DH activities at AUC, includes a showcase of important DH projects elsewhere (for inspiration!), and contains suggestions for including DH work in the classroom.

Mission

Goals

Current AUC Projects

Digital Humanities in the Classroom

Mission

AUC is embracing Digital Humanities as an innovative pedagogical and research tool. The Digital Humanities Program at the AUC’s School of Libraries and Learning Technologies is conceived as a support center for the entire scholarly community at AUC.

It aims to provide AUC faculty and researchers with the necessary tools and training to plan and implement successful DH projects, to foster new research, and to enhance the teaching and learning process. The Digital Humanities Program also assists graduate and undergraduate students in the humanities in designing their projects using a wide range to of specialized tools.

Interested? Take a look at our current projects section below, or contact us.

Goals

The Program’s goals are to:

  • Promote DH research and encourage the use of cutting-edge digital tools in the field of humanities.
  • Empower and support faculty, students and researchers to explore new possibilities to enhance their research endeavors.
  • Connect scholars across different disciplines and support collaborative endeavors in digital scholarship, fostering interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Encourage and stimulate research, investigating previously unexplored areas in humanities disciplines.
  • Incorporate new digital tools in the teaching and learning process through the use of innovative and efficient pedagogical digital tools.
  • Encourage experimentation and creativity as DH is a playful, dynamic and experimental research field.
  • Engage students in digital research and scholarship, encouraging the “students as researchers” pedagogy.
  • Preserve the cultural heritage and help disseminate knowledge and culture to the widest possible audience.
  • Establish collaborations with national and international partners in the field of humanities.

Current AUC Projects

“Visualizing Fatimid Cairo” (project in progress)

 “Visualizing Fatimid Cairo” is an AMICAL supported DH project, creating a collaboration between the AUC Library, the AUC Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) and the AUC History department.

The aim of “Visualizing Fatimid Cairo” project is to create an interactive visual representation of the history of Fatimid Cairo (969-1171). Different aspects (art, architecture, literature, and culture) of historical Cairo will be displayed to enable researchers to inquire and analyze the formation of the city as well as its political, economic and cultural identity.

The project will give an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration between historians, architects, sociologist, and scholars who are interested to study Fatimid Cairo. Available links to digital books written by Medieval Islamic historians who describe the city during the Fatimid period will be provided and accessible whenever it is relevant to the historical context of the city.

The first stage of the project will focus on visualizing and mapping the Fatimid mosques of Cairo.
An Islamic antiquities historical map that dates back to the year 1948 will be used as a base layer to navigate the mosques. Upon clicking on a particular mosque, the user will be provided with further information and resources about the mosque, related to its establishment, description, significance, and renovation attempts. A narrative of each mosque will be included to highlight its story, which will include historical pictures of the monument available through AUC Rare Books and Special Collections library. Themes related to the ideologies of the city’s founders and how they affected the city’s urban planning and structure will also be emphasized. It is important to note that the aim of the project is not to provide new research or findings about the mosques but rather to organize and group the information in an engaging visual format.

Digital Humanities in the Classroom

Digital Humanities projects have been used as effective tools in the learning and teaching process. The use and incorporation of DH in the classroom will help your students develop new skills, and enable them to move from the role of knowledge consumers to the role of knowledge producers.

Designing classroom activities and creating digital assignments are two main areas where DH can bring a considerable change to students’ learning experience. Students can experiment with building simple DH projects such as galleries of images using Omeka or creating blogs and wikis.

Curious? Look at the project page for the Digital Egyptian Gazette, a brilliant example of a larger, long-term project that is integrated with the teaching process.

We can help you plan similar projects, just contact us. In the meantime, please see both the Kansas University and the University of Texas at Arlington Libguides to the use of DH in the classroom.

Digital Humanities’ projects typically make use of specialized tools for text analysis, data mining, spatial analysis and data visualization. A few examples are listed below, while a fuller list can be found through the directories listed under Links and Tools.

Some of these tools may produce some stunning visualizations, but their use is not an end in itself. Ultimately, the aim of these tools is to provide new insights through systematic research.

Here is a small showcase of some interesting Digital Humanities projects:
Mapping the Republic of Letters
Six degrees of Francis Bacon
Novel views Les Miserables
Robots reading Vogue.

Text Analysis

Text Analysis refers to the use of digital techniques to analyze textual information. This technique allows for “Distant Reading,” a term first introduced by Franco Moretti to describe the analysis of voluminous data sets and large corpuses using big data analytics. Text analysis tools can be used to search through a large corpus, generate word clouds, find word frequency, identify patterns in parts of speech or identify sentiments, moods, and emotions in a corpus. Text analysis is a multi-step process that often involves cleaning, adding structure and increasing the regularity of raw text before putting it into the analysis. Different tools can be used to perform this cleaning and parsing process before moving to the next stage and analyzing the text. Consider this example of a text analysis DH project: The civil war in letters.

Useful Text Analysis Tools:
Voyant
NVivo
TAPoRware
ManyEyes


Data Visualization

Data visualization is the use of visual mediums to convey and display information in an accessible and visually appealing method. Displaying data in a visual manner is very effective in grasping and condensing the main characteristics of any given data and provides users with an easy way to explore the information. Data visualization can be static or interactive. Static data visualization relies on charts and graphs while interactive data visualization relies on innovative computer programs and new digital tools for network analysis, spatial analysis and connectivity.

An example of a data visualization digital humanities project:
After Babylon

Useful Data Visualization Tools:
Tableau
JupyteR
D3.js
 

Spatial Analysis

The use of the Geographic Information System (GIS) to analyze, manage and manipulate spatial or geographic data in a visually appealing manner adding layers upon layers of information in the form of interactive maps instead of static ones.

An example of a spatial analysis digital humanities project:
The Agas Map of Early Modern London

Tools used for spatial analysis:
ArcGIS
Google fusion tables
Neatline
CartoDB
QGIS

Contact Digital Humanities

Do you have an idea for a Digital Humanities project? Have you seen an interesting project elsewhere, and would you like to build something similar? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to work with you.

Eman Khereba
Digital Humanities Interim Librarian
AUC Main Library
Office: 2nd Floor, Library
Email:eman.khereba@aucegypt.edu