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Hamilton Alumni Review
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Field Notes

Digital Projects Mean New Options in the Humanities

The realm of digital discourse, networking and archiving may seem a long step removed from the humanities as taught at a college with a strong liberal arts tradition. A group of Hamilton faculty and staff members says that need not be the case, however. And they are using new media and computing technology to bridge the gap, creating new forms of interdisciplinary scholarship and curriculum through the Digital Humanities Initiative.
 

  • Angel David Nieves, an associate professor of Africana studies who also co-directs Hamilton's Digital Humanities Initiative with Instructional Technology Specialist Janet Simons, is collaborating with a number of other institutions and offices from College Hill to Tanzania on the Virtual Freedom Trail Project. Building on his earlier work (www.soweto76archive.org/3D/video), the project will include student contributors and new classroom technology and will make connections between ­Tanzania and South Africa's ­liberation struggle.
  • Kyoko Omori, associate professor of East Asian languages and literatures, is creating a Comparative Japanese Literature Archive — a database of video clips, from early Japanese silent films to contemporary anime, with annotations and metadata that can be shared with other institutions for scholarly and instructional activities. She began the archive over the summer with materials for her new Introduction to Japanese Film course — a first step toward a collection of a much wider range of Japanese films that holds potential value for comparative study.
  • Professor of History Thomas Wilson, working with student fellow Stephanie Wong '10, the Confucius Temple in Japan and a number of other scholars, plans to further develop an existing DVD of annual sacrificial rites at the temple as well as work toward an enhanced Web presence and a "virtual" Confucius Temple. Future phases of the project include a scholarly conference and a program to support undergraduate research.
  • Patricia O'Neill, the Edmund A. LeFevre Professor of English, plans a project devoted to the award-winning Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001), who taught at Hamilton two decades ago. Her collaborators include Associate Professors of History Kevin Grant and Lisa Trivedi; Randall Ericson, the College's Couper Librarian; and Christian Goodwillie, curator of Special Collections and Archives. The project aims to acquire Shahid's personal papers and related materials, create a digital archive and develop student and faculty research projects.
  • Professor of French Martine Guyot-Bender, whose collaborators include the French Embassy in New York City and Nathalie Rachlin of Scripps College, intends to create a French Film Documentary Digital Repository. She notes that "film documentary is a fleeting, ephemeral art form, one that suffers greatly from lack of centralization." The repository would select films for digital archiving, organize and centralize resources, and develop tools to use French film documentaries as pedagogical support. Guyot-Bender is developing a course on contemporary France focused entirely on film documentary.
  • Professor of English Vincent Odamtten is creating a Multimedia Approach to Ghanaian Culture & Literature in Africana Studies that will provide digital storytelling and a "mix of image and narrative" to augment the conventional timelines by which courses in the discipline are ­typically taught. He has already redesigned his introductory African-American literature course in this way. Collaborating with Britain's National Archives, the Rhodes House Library at Oxford and Broadcast News Footage Ghana, West Africa, he says, "ultimately, the project will produce a complex and multi-layered narrative in a DVD format."
  • Couper Librarian Randy Ericson, collaborating with Christian Goodwillie, curator of Special Collections and Archives, hopes to create a virtual Shaker community. Using the extensive Shaker Community Collection owned by Hamilton College, the project would "create a virtual world setting in which one could experience Shaker life."
  • James Wells, the visiting ­assistant professor of classics, hopes to "create new, inclusive communities of audience for classical studies" by exploring ways that digital technology and service learning might be ­"vehicles for sustaining and ­reinventing the classics."

Cupola