The March 9th meeting of Fordham’s Digital Humanities Working Group meeting got off to an exciting start when Catherine Buescher of the Office of the Provost dropped by to let us know that our request for discretionary funding from the Provost was approved. The nearly $78,000 award supports research on model digital humanities centers at peer and aspirant institutions and provides seed money to take seven digital projects by Fordham faculty to their next iteration.
History: In Spring 2010 a group of Fordham faculty, senior administrators, librarians, research officers, and information technologists began meeting to share our digital humanities projects and to assess the resources needed to foster digital and computational humanities scholarship at our university. The Fordham Digital Humanities Working Group meets regularly to promote digital scholarship at our university.
Jesuit Scholarship and Computational Humanities: One of the first things our working group learned was that digital humanities scholarship has been part of the Jesuit research tradition since the mid-20th century, when Italian Jesuit priest Roberto Busa, S.J., persuaded IBM founder Thomas J. Watson to support his a complete lemmatization of the works of Thomas Aquinas and a few related authors. It was 1951 when Busa and his IBM colleagues created the programming for the first machine-generated concordance.1 The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations honors lifetime achievement in the digital humanities with an award named for this digital pioneer, the triennial Roberto Busa Prize.
Digital Scholarship at Fordham Today: Digital humanities scholarship at Fordham is very much alive, with resources such as the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, maintained by Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies, under the directorship of Professor Maryanne Kowaleski. At one time this groundbreaking project accounted for nearly three-quarters of all traffic to the University’s website. The Center for Medieval Studies is also home to multiple resources, including sites devoted to source documents on the medieval French in England, Italy, and Outremer.
Fordham art historian Barbara Mundy, in collaboration with Smith College professor Dana Liebsohn, produced Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1820 Cultura visual de Hispanoamérica, 1520–1820, the definitive online resource on colonial Spanish American culture. Vistas was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a DVD version of Vistas was published in 2010 by the University of Texas Press.
This year Fordham welcomed the Keywords Collaboratory, the collaborative learning site that accompanies Glenn Hendler and Bruce Burgett’s American Studies classic: Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Dozens of classes nationwide have used the Keywords wiki to parse the meaning of key cultural terms. Keywords Project Coordinator Elizabeth Cornell will participate in the 2011 NEH–Summer Institute on Digital Approaches to American Studies hosted by Vectors and the University of Southern California’s Center for Transformative Scholarship, where she will explore new possibilities for the Keywords Collaboratory.
Coming Attractions: Projects currently under development by Fordham faculty include the DigitalHudson, a library of searchable digitized materials about the history of the Hudson River curated by Roger Panetta; the Yaddo Archive Project, a cultural network mapping project that explores the lives and work of artists affiliated with Yaddo, led by Micki McGee; and The Latin Works of John Wyclif, a searchable digital collection of the Latin philosophical and theological works of John Wyclif, developed by Patrick Hornbeck.
Visit us often here at Fordham Digital Humanities for news regarding our planning, projects, and progress.