JustinLarsen.net | Digital Humanities Portfolio



The Digital Humanities

Although the term "digital humanities" seems to be on the lips of every administrator and hiring committee in the nation right now, it is increasingly apparent that there is no clear, universal definition. Like many emerging fields, the borders around Digital Humanities have yet to be drawn; indeed, many scholars argue that the Digital Humanities are more methodology than a study in and of themselves and therefore should not be "defined" at all.

The purpose of Dr. Fred Gibbs' Digital Methodologies course has been to explore the many approaches the Digital Humanities have to the questions that are inherent to the study of fields such as History and Literature. As a function of that class, I have prepared the following collection of samples to display the skills and understandings I've developed over the semester, to showcase the way I have incorporated them into my own research, and to share these approaches with my fellow students and scholars.

Text Modeling and Textual Visualization

A great deal of the reason I was excited to enroll in the course was the promise of learning about several of the tools for advanced textual analysis made available by computers. My project here was to enter the entire Anglo-Saxon poetic corpus and subject it to a few methods of analysis, especially that of Topic Modelling made available by tools like MALLET. In the process, I demonstrate the use of the following technologies and techniques:

  • Python 2.7
  • Web Scraping and Text Mining
  • Data Cleaning with Regular Expressions
  • Topic Modelling with Mallet
  • Visualization of Results

Mapping Widsið

Although the majority of my research has no real geospatial element, the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsið is a clear exception. More of a metrical catalogue than anything else, the poem lists a great number of tribes and their famous leaders, all of whom the narrator allegedly visited during his travels. The creation of a map to visualize the locations of these tribes helps to make clear the scope and breadth of the Germanic world represented by Widsið in a clear and easy-to-comprehend image. Here, I demonstrate the use of the following software:

  • Google Maps Engine
  • Google Earth
  • QGIS Mapping Software

DH in Medieval Studies: A Critical Survey

One of the most important ways of understanding how the Digital Humanities is useful within our own studies is to examine its application by others in our own fields. Numerous projects, from Bessinger's Concordance of the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records to Martin Foy's treatment of the Bayeux Tapestry, have tackled problems by using computers as analytical tools. Still others have used telecommunications technologies to solve the troubling problem of access, an issue that is more pressing for medievalists than for any other period in the study of English Literature. This page will give a short critique of the ways in which the digital world has impacted the study of the Middle Ages

Other Experiments

Anther important, albeit unofficial part of the DH curriculum for me was the opportunity to play around with technologies not listed on the syllabus or not part of any major project. Although this was not strictly necessary, many of the smaller things I did here informed the decisions I made in web design, project workflow, or even software used. In this section, which should probably never really see the light of day, but is nonetheless an integral part of my learning experience in the Digital Methods course, you will find the following:

  • Experiments with CSS Animation
  • Experiments with JavaScript
  • A Discussion of the Educational Value of Porteus, the Portable Linux Distribution

The Albuquerque Sunport: 1930-1970

The link to this project will be added once the site goes live

As a part of Fred Gibbs' Digital Methods course in Fall 2014, I was also part of a larger project to examine and make public the history of the Albuquerque Sunport. Although my place in the project was behind the scenes, incorporating the work of others into the website, I still learned a great deal about the subject; I learned a great deal more, however, about JavaScript and web design. My work on the project demonstrates fluency with:

  • HTML and CSS
  • Elements of Web Design
  • JavaScript
  • Project Work