Browse Category: Roberto Busa

Steven E. Jones on Father Roberto Busa, SJ, and the Emergence of Humanities Computing

Fordham’s Digital Humanities Group, along with the American Studies Program and the Department of Theology, are delighted to welcome Professor Steven E. Jones to discuss his fascinating new research on the legacy of Italian Jesuit and linguist Roberto Busa, SJ, who has come to be known as a founding father of digital humanities.

Busa’s pathbreaking work on a digital concordance of the works of Thomas Aquinas was made possible by support he secured from IBM Founder Thomas Watson in the late 1940s. The Index Thomisticus is actively used by scholars today, and demonstrated the value of using new technologies in developing humanities scholarship and resources.

Steven E. Jones is Professor of English and Co-Director of the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities at Loyola University Chicago. His research interests include romantic-period literature, textual studies, and the digital humanities. He is author, most recently, of The Emergence of the Digital Humanities (2013) and  Codename Revolution: The Nintendo Wii Platform (2012).

Join us for this lecture, which promises to explore the links between digital scholarship and the traditions of Jesuit inquiry!

Growing Digital Research at Fordham

Fordham’s commitment to fostering scholarship in the service of others was underscored at last week’s Growing Research panels, where a series of public digital humanities projects directed by Fordham faculty were profiled. Organized by James Wilson, Director of Faculty Development, “Crossing the Digital Divide” showcased an array of digital humanities projects with a shared commitment to open access.

Growing Digital Research: Micki McGee introduces
panelists Patrick Hornbeck, Roger Panetta,
Barbara Mundy (partly hidden) and Damian Lyons.

Sociology professor Micki McGee introduced the panel by providing an overview of the burgeoning field of digital humanities, highlighting both recent developments and the field’s surprisingly deep roots in the pioneering mid-20th century computational linguistic scholarship of Italian Jesuit Roberto Busa.

Project presentations by professors Patrick Hornbeck (Theology and Medieval Studies), Barbara Mundy (Art History), Roger Panetta (History), as well as by McGee (Sociology and Anthropology) highlighted the breadth and depth of collections and open research access tools in development by Fordham faculty. Ranging from a digital repository of Hudson River historical documents to a searchable online edition of the Latin works of 14th-century theologian John Wyclif, from the bi-lingual digital curation of thousands of Spanish American colonial artifacts to a social network mapping tool for charting artists’ communities, these projects share a commitment to open access scholarship as a service to the community.

Computer scientist Damian Lyons, chair of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, served as a respondent, along with Fran Blumberg (Psychological & Educational Services) whose scholarship includes “video-game learning”; Leonard Cassuto (English), General Editor of the Cambridge History of the American Novel; Young Eun Lee (Information & Communication Systems), who researches the antecedents for and impacts of online communities; and Kristen Turner (Curriculum & Teaching), who is investigating Digitalk: The digital writing of adolescents. The afternoon concluded with discussion of the transformative effect of digital technologies on every aspect of higher education, from research, to teaching, to academic publishing.

Dr. Barbara Mundy presented Vistas,
a digital resource of colonial
Spanish American artifacts.
Dr. Roger Panetta discussed the breadth of
resources available in the DigitalHudson collection at
Fordham’s Walsh Library.
Dr. Patrick Hornbeck, who co-chairs
Fordham’s Digital Humanities Working Group,
 presented on The Latin Works of John Wyclif.
Fordham University
Press Director Fredric Nachbaur raised
questions about the future of the book.

All photos by Bruce Gilbert.

Digital Humanities: At Home at Fordham

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.

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