PUL & CDH staff members to present research projects at Princeton Research Day on 5/10


Nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and other nonfaculty researchers will be gathering at the Frist Campus Center on Thursday, May 10, for the third annual Princeton Research Day. At the event, participants will present their research findings through 10-minute talks, 90-second pitches and more. Among those participating this year are staff members of Princeton University Library and the Center for Digital Humanities.

Participants include:

 April C. Armstrong, Special Collections Assistant IV at Seeley G. Mudd Library
The End of a Monastery: Princeton University's First Female Graduate Students

POSTER PRESENTATION: S5 "A Slice of Princeton II" from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m., Frist Main Atrium

When telling the story of coeducation at Princeton University, a focus on the undergraduate experience has often neglected to acknowledge the role of female graduate students in paving the way. Princeton began admitting women as undergraduates in 1969, but female graduate students had been on campus since 1961. They faced inequitable admissions and financial aid requirements, fought gender discrimination on campus, and pushed Princeton to become truly coeducational at all levels through official and unofficial channels. Their experiences guided Princeton's steps in opening its doors to female undergraduates. Using records in the Princeton University archives that are only recently becoming available to researchers, along with records that have long been open for consultation, this project will reveal the significance of their presence and their direct impact on the experiences of the female undergraduates who followed in their pioneering footsteps. (See related blog for more.)

 Rebecca Munson, CDH Project Designer
Common Readers: A Material History of Reading Drama by Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

10-MINUTE TALK on annotations in copies of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries
S1.2 "Recovering, Remembering" from 10:30 to 11:20 a.m., Frist 206

"The history of reading, a subfield of what literary studies terms "reception history," is one of changing tools and technologies, whether from scroll to codex, manuscript to print, or page to screen. Both texts and readers respond to technologies, which redirect attention and provide structures for deriving meaning. Attention is expensive; we live in an age of distraction, a time of "information overload" which shares much with the early modern period when Shakespeare's contemporaries felt overwhelmed by the amount of content made available by the "boom" that followed the introduction of the printing press.

The history of reading--of who was paying attention to what and when--provides a lens through which to discern and analyze patterns of engagement and to learn more about the releationship among media shifts, emergent technologies, and texts with significant cultural capital. In studying these histories, we can discern what seemed noticeable or important to different audiences at different points in time; we learn more about the history of western literary culture and our own place within it. No texts have more significant cultural capital than those by Shakespeare. And at every stage in their lifecycle Shakespeare's plays experience and made sense of in parts. Annotations, which provide a material record of readers' attention, offer the opportunity to study the ways in which the breaking and rendering of Shakespeare reveals both personal epistemologies and socially conditioned structures of thought. Or, to put it simply, how partiality reveals partiality. 

Annotations have been under-used in reception studies, likely because the focus of the field has been on individual case studies rather than aggregated data. Common Readers sets out to trace the material history of reading Shakespeare by examining the evidence for early readers' habits found in annotated copies of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. It is both a traditional archival project, working with copies of rare books from several different collections, and a Digital Humanities project, aiming to build a searchable online database of annotations. At this stage, the project focuses on transforming documents--annotated play texts located in rare books libraries across the country--into data that can be modeled for a relational database, provide the foundation for a publicly-accessible site, used to create visualizations, and otherwise employed to provide new perspectives on the reception of Shakespeare."

 Mary Naydin & Meagan Wilson, graduate students in the department of English
Princeton Prosody Archive

RESEARCH PRESENTATION: S3 "Slice of Princeton I" from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Frist Main Atrium

"The PPA is a full-text searchable database of more than 5,000 digitized works on prosody published between 1570 and 1923. A sponsored project of the CDH, the PPA is a collaborative effort spearheaded by Associate Professor of English/CDH Director Meredith Martin, and managed by graduate students Meagan Wilson and Mary Naydan. It is the only large-scale corpus focused on the study of poetry and prosody in the English language. The archive collects historical documents -- from grammar books and versification guides to poetic treatises and journal articles -- at the intersection of the study of language and the study of poetry. These texts tell us about the development of the study of poetics in linguistic science, in the study of phonology, and in the history of English literature prior to its institutionalization in the late 19th century as a university discipline. 

Our presentation will highlight the immense data-refinement and metadata-cleaning performed by the PPA in the process of curating the collection's HathiTrust Digital Library content. For digital humanists and computer scientists, the archive provides a curated data set, an example of open source digital architecture, and a model for creating a database from HathiTrust collections. We will also discuss how the user interface guides scholars in the field of Historical Poetics, as well as scholars of poetry, linguistics and rhetoric, to ultimately be able to use the archive to make discoveries about how poetry intersects with debates about discipline formation and national identity."

 Nora Benedict, CDH Postdoctoral Fellow
Global Networks of Cultural Production

POSTER PRESENTATION: S5 "Slice of Princeton II" from 12:30 to 2 p.m., Frist Main Atrium

"Global Networks of Cultural Production explores the emergency of a transatlantic literary print culture in Latin America during the 20th century, primarily through the efforts of Victoria Ocampo, a highly influential Argentine writer, critic, and literary editor. More specifically, the project examines how Ocampo's publishing networks evolve and how they contribute to canon formation and literary criticism in Argentina. My decision to focus on Ocampo's literary circuits stems from her pivotal role in introducing European and North American writers to Latin American readers, and vice versa. Ocampo's literary journal, Sur, her publishing house of the same name, as well as Princeton's extensive papers of Latin American writers and intellectuals, all serve as key sources of data for my project. From these outlets, I have parse the names and works of various authors, translators, editors, printers, artists, and graphic designers, and all of their respective relations to Ocampo. I also am generating an archive of metadata about the physical aspects of these letters, magazines, journals, and books that link all of the involved intellectuals. All of this data lives in a relational database that I built using the open-source management system, MySQL. I have yet to finish importing all of my data, but when I do I hope to create a series of static network analysis visualizations -- each focusing on queried datasets (e.g. "person-profession relationship," "person-contribution relationship," etc.). In short, I am not testing a theory (or hypothesis), but rather completing a descriptive study to better understand how writers and intellectuals connected through Ocampo's print production."

Benjamin Hicks Benjamin Hicks, CDH Developer
The Pliny Project: An Online Database of Pliny the Younger's Letters

10-MINUTE TALK: S7.2 "What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?" from 1:45 to 2:35 p.m., Frist 207

"The Pliny Project aims to capture the social connections of the 2nd-century AD Roman aristocrat Pliny the Younger in an electronic format. His personal letters are one of the few collections of personal correspondence extant from the Roman Empire, and they provide a window into the lives of the Roman ruling classes. Pliny held the highest governmental position aside from that of the emperor during the Roman Empire, and he rose to prominence with connections made during a highly successful career. He and his correspondence have therefore attracted the significant attention from classical scholars, i.e., Sherwin-White (1969), Syme (1968), Birley (2000), and Gibson and Morello (2011). 

The particular emphasis of this project, building a social network of Pliny's correspondents and mapping it to their social class in a way that is available electronically, will therefore be exciting to anyone with an interest in Roman history, and of particular interest to scholars of classics at all levels. It opens the door to further readings of the letters, and it will facilitate other avenues of investigation, including Natural Language Processing (NLP) with an eye toward linguistic differences in the letters based on the social class of Pliny's correspondents. (On NLP, see Johnson 2009, and for an introduction on social network theory, see Scott 2000.)

This makes the potential for this work particularly significant in the field of an already well-studied Roman figure and also broadens its interest to scholars working on digital analysis of social networks and texts. It also innovates on traditional prosopographical studies of Pliny by providing open access to searchable information about Pliny's correspondents."

Natalia Ermolaev Natalia Ermolaev, CDH Assistant Director
The Archive as Data: The Serge Prokofiev Archive

POSTER PRESENTATION: S3 "Slice of Princeton I" from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Frist Main Atrium

"The term "archive" usually evokes a picture of old documents or items - such as manuscripts, letters, photographs, maps, or notes - carefully organized and stored in a library repository. For scholarly researchers in particular, the main tool to access their content has conventionally been the "Finding Aid," the guide or list created by an archivist that provides varying degree of detail about what the archive contains. 

This presentation will show how digital tools and digital humanities methods can turn archives into data, and transform how scholars access, explore, and interpret archival collections. My case study is the Serge Prokofiev Archive at Columbia University, which contains over 17,500 items related to the 20th-century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). I will discuss how to create a clean, multivalent, sharable, and reusable humanities dataset by extracting machine-readable metadata from the Finding Aid, curating, wrangling, and manipulating it I will demonstrate how plugging this data into out-of-the-box data analysis and visualization tools can generate elegant and meaningful research outcomes. Digital methods can help us to better understand a collection's importance and lets us tell individual stories from the archive more impactfully than ever before."