By Heather Barnes, Digital Curation Librarian, and Carrie Johnston, Digital Humanities Research Designer

Digital Humanities Summer Partnerships in ZSR

In 2018 Carrie Johnston teamed up with the Humanities Institute to create the Digital Humanities Summer Stipend, which awards $1,000 to faculty who collaborate with ZSR’s Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication team to develop digitally inflected research projects over the summer. 

This summer, the three faculty members were awarded stipends to work with the DISC team on data curation and management and to learn new digital research tools.

Tirso de Molina Authorship Study

Jane Albrecht, Department of Spanish and Italian, received a stipend for her authorship study on Tirso de Molina (1579-1648), whose claim as the originator of the dramatic character Don Juan is disputed among scholars. To address these questions of disputed authorship, Jane worked with the DISC team to prepare datasets of plays from the Spanish Golden Age for stylometric analysis, which will help to determine how likely it is that an author wrote a particular text. 

For quite a few years, Jane has been hard at work collecting, digitizing and editing 120 plays to include in a corpus for analysis. She also identified a dataset of 800 plays held by ProQuest and worked with Lauren Corbett and Carrie Johnston to acquire the dataset in 2019, which spared her the work of digitizing 800 plays, speeding up the collecting process quite a bit! This summer, Jane and a research assistant worked with DISC to examine the contents of the dataset, much of which was delivered in a CVT format (what in the world?!), migrate these files to a non-proprietary format, and organize information about the plays in a spreadsheet.

Jane plans to continue to work with DISC to further clean up the plays–some of them include additions and changes by 19th-century editors that need to be removed! Once the plays are restored to their original versions, they will be collected into control groups (plays of known authorship) and sample groups (plays of disputed authorship) and analyzed using R, a programming language for statistical computing. 

Stay tuned to find out who really wrote Don Juan into existence!

The Implementation and Enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act

Hana Brown, Department of Sociology, was awarded a Digital Humanities Summer Stipend to support her research on the implementation and enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which Congress passed in 1978. worked with DISC to code and analyze two papers to interrogate the extent to which welfare agencies and courts have abided by the law’s requirements. Data sources included Truth and Reconciliation Commission oral histories as well as materials from 77 state and federal ICWA court cases. 

As a key component of the summer work, Hana participated in a faculty learning group to develop computer-assisted qualitative analysis skills and strategies. One of the outcomes of this group was the development of a workflow for importing, organizing, coding, and analyzing data with digital qualitative methods software MAXQDA. Final project goals included completion of a journal article focusing on how children are designated eligible for tribe membership and a second article exploring efforts by anti-ICWA groups to call for its dissolution. 

Analyzing Discourse, Activism, and Immigrants’ Rights Across Congregations within the Catholic Church

Ana Wahl, Department of Sociology, was awarded a Digital Humanities Summer Stipend to support her research on the ways that Catholic congregations engage or neglect immigrants and immigrants’ rights. More specifically, she is examining church sermon and website content for evidence of sentiment related to immigrant rights movements. Ana is actively gathering data for her study with the support of student research assistants. She will focus her initial analysis on a corpus of parish bulletins and diocesan newspapers; data sources for the study included church websites, which typically publish weekly bulletins in digital formats, and existing newspapers. She has also begun exploring the possibility of using YouTube as a data source for  church sermon videos. 

Ana participated with Hana Brown and others in the faculty learning group to develop computer-assisted qualitative analysis skills and strategies using MAXQDA. One of the outcomes of the summer working sessions was a more refined workflow for gathering, importing, and organizing the research data. She plans to further refine and develop the project with additional support from DISC, including creating strategies for integrating digital tools and new data sources.