2019 Distinguished Scholar Jessica Marie Johnson

Jessica Marie Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the Johns Hopkins University.

Her work has appeared in Slavery & Abolition, The Black Scholar, Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism, American Quarterly, Social Text, The Journal of African American History, Debates in the Digital Humanities, Forum Journal, Bitch Magazine, Black Perspectives (AAIHS), Somatosphere, and Post-Colonial Digital Humanities (DHPoco). Johnson is a historian of Atlantic slavery and the Atlantic African diaspora. She is the author of Practicing Freedom: Black Women, Intimacy, and Kinship in New Orleans Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, under contract). She is co-editor with Dr. Mark Anthony Neal (Duke University) of Black Code: A Special Issue of the Black Scholar (2017), a collection of work exploring the field of Black Code Studies and editor of Slavery in the Machine: sx:archipelagos  (forthcoming). She is founding curatrix at African Diaspora, Ph.D. or #ADPhD (africandiasporaphd.com), co-organizer of the Queering Slavery Working Group with Dr. Vanessa Holden (University of Kentucky), a member of the LatiNegrxs Project (lati-negros.tumblr.com), and a Digital Alchemist at the Center for Solutions to Online Violence (http://femtechnet.org/csov/).

April 9th: Black Code Studies: A Digital Toolkit Luncheon
A skillshare and discussion of how #BlackCodeStudies informs and operates in digital humanities and the humanities more broadly. Bring your favorite tools, projects and skills you are willing to share to keep the conversation going! Constellation Noire: Scrying Diasporic Futures in Plain Text

Public lecture followed by a reception
Black digital practice holds space for Black life to be seen without the rancor of the voyeur, appreciated without the demand for consumption.  What makes this rich and deep intellectual work so powerful is the way it challenges the container of West and Western thought. This talk discusses black digital practice and the ways black theory, black thought, and black study can remake our engagement with the digital, offering terrestrial and extraterrestial reformulations of being.

April 10th: Black x Digital: A Graduate Workshop in Digital Praxis Learn more about the ways black studies intersects with digital practice and the digital humanities. Johnson will showcase select projects (including her own) that do this work in various ways and lead a series of exercise on how to think about Black Studies in conversation with doing digital work.

This program is co-sponsored by the Department of History, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of English, the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, the Center for Learning in the Digital Age (LiDA), the Digital Scholarship Lab, and the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies.

2017 Distinguished Scholar Victoria Szabo

March 2-3, 2017

Dr. Victoria Szabo is Associate Research Professor of Visual and Media Studies; Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative; and the Director of Graduate Studies for the PhD program in Computational Media, Arts, and Cultures at Duke University.

Related Events:

  • Omeka Workshop in the Vista Collaboratory
  • Lunch with graduate students: Careers in the Digital Humanities
  • Keynote: “Cultural Approaches to Digital Heritage”
  • Digital Humanities Round Table: “Tuning In: Sound in the Digital Humanities.” Victoria Szabo in conversation with University of Rochester’s Darren Mueller (Assistant Professor of Musicology), Oliver Schneller (Professor of Composition), Ming-Lun Lee (Assistant Professor of Audio and Music Engineering), and Paul Fess (Predoctoral Fellow at the Frederick Douglass Institute)
  • DH Lunch: “Zooming Out”
  • Game Demo and Concluding Conversation: “Psychasthenia
Recap: Omeka Workshop
Recap: “Cultural Approaches to Digital Heritage” Keynote Lecture
Recap: Psychasthenia 2
Recap: The DH Graduate Student and the Job Market

2015 Distinguished Visiting Scholar Laura Mandell

February 19-20, 2015

Dr. Laura Mandell is the Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M University.

Related Events:

  • Presentation: “Big Data and the Humanities”
  • Lunch with graduate students
  • Keynote: “Scaling Up: Search as Research”
  • Panel: “Archives in Between: Cultural Preservation, Material to Digital” (Welles-Brown Room), with Joanne Bernardi (Associate Professor of Japanese and Film and Media Studies, and author/editor of ReEnvisioning Japan), Daniela Currò (Preservation Manager, Moving Image Department, George Eastman House), and Jim Kuhn (Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books and Special Collections)
  • DH Lunch: “The Dark Side of Digital Humanities”
Visiting Scholar Twitter Recap
Schedule: Laura Mandell, Visiting Scholar in Digital Humanities

2015 Distinguished Visiting Scholar Ed Ayers

Ed Ayers

March 17-19, 2015

Dr. Edward Ayers is President of the University of Richmond.

In “The Shape of the Civil War,” the Heritage of DH

By Eitan Freedenberg
Confronting the popular claim that DH is simply a new coat of (bureaucratic and distracting) paint on traditional humanistic methods, Ayers discussed at length the “History of the Civil War in the United States,” a most unusual visual timeline from late nineteenth century historian Arthur Hodgkin Scaife’s “Comparative and Synoptical System of History Applied to All Countries.” more »

Lidar and Landscapes: Remote Sensing Data in Digital Humanities

Thomas Garrison, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Ithaca College

12–2 PM, December 6, 2019
Douglass Commons
Community Room, 401
University of Rochester, River Campus

Thomas Garrison is an archaeologist at Ithaca College who uses LiDAR – a laser-based remote sensing technology – to uncover lost Mayan cities beneath the jungle canopies of Guatemala. By digitally removing the forest cover, Garrison has ‘excavated’ more than 60,000 ruins, revealing massive habitations and changing our understanding of how the Maya lived, built, and altered the landscape. His work has repeatedly appeared in National Geographic, which has funded some of his fieldwork. He’ll discuss his interdisciplinary and multinational project and its place within the digital humanities.

Please share this invitation with colleagues, students, and collaborators. Lunch will be provided. We look forward to seeing you! 

From Aerith to Zelda: Preserving the History of Women in Video Games

Please join us for a discussion with Shannon Symonds, Curator for Electronic Games and Co-chair of the Women in Games initiative. 

12-2PM, October 29, 2019
Douglass Commons
Community Room, 407
University of Rochester River Campus

Note: This event will take place at Douglass Commons  instead of Rush Rhees Library, which is our usual venue.

Shannon Symonds is Curator for Electronic Games and Co-chair of the Women in Games initiative at The Strong museum, home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games and the World Video Game Hall of Fame. She will be discussing the museum’s game collection and what it takes to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit more than 60,000 objects related to the history of the gaming industry. Special emphasis will be placed on the museum’s growing collection of items related to the contributions women have made to electronic games, and the vital role it serves to video game scholars and historians.

Please share this invitation with colleagues, students, and collaborators. Lunch will be provided. We look forward to seeing you!

The Virtual Cary Archive: Exploring Special Collections Using Virtual Reality

Join us for an interactive discussion on virtual reality and its uses in exploring special collections with Stephen Galbraith (Curator, Cary Graphic Arts Collection, RIT) and Shaun Foster (Associate Professor of 3D Digital Design, RIT). 12-1PM, December 7, 2018 Rossell Hope Robbins Library 416 Rush Rhees Library University of Rochester River Campus The Virtual Cary Collection is a digital humanities collaboration between RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection and Department of 3D Digital Design. The project, an interactive 3D rendering of the Cary Collection, explores how VR can be used to promote access and discovery in libraries, archives, and museums. It investigates the research and teaching possibilities that are created when digitized artifacts are presented in a VR environment. RIT Professor Shaun Foster and Curator Steven Galbraith will discuss the project, its origins and long-term goals, and the technology used. Participants will be invited to experience the Virtual Cary Collection.

It’s the Ethos, not the Tech: Pedagogical Principles for the Digital Age

Jayne Lammers, Warner School of Education

12-1PM, November 6, 2018
Humanities Center, Conference Room D

Please join us for a roundtable discussion on digital methodologies and the ethics of pedagogy and classroom practice with Jayne Lammers, Associate Professor, Director of Secondary English Teacher Preparation, and Associate Director in the Center for Learning in the Digital Age (LiDA) at the Warner School of Education.

In this Digital Humanities Lunch, our guest offers ideas for us to consider about pedagogy in the digital age. Drawn from her research to understand young people’s digital literacy practices in informal spaces, such as Fanfiction.net and other online forums, Lammers will share guiding principles for designing engaging, collaborative learning experiences that focus on the ethos of online spaces, not the particular tools/technologies. We invite you to join in the conversation and think together about how you might be able to apply these principles in your own teaching.

Decolonizing Digital Networks: Women of Color, Feminism, Open Access, and What It Means to be Woke

Lisa Nakamura, Professor of American Cultures, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Thursday, October 19, 2017, 1pm
Gamble Room, Rush Rhees Library 361

Lisa Nakamura is the Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor in the Department of American Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is one of the leading scholars in the field of critical digital media studies/digital humanities. From coining the concept of “cybertype” as distinctive ways that the internet propagates, disseminates, and commodifies images of race and racism, to locating the internet as a privileged and extremely rich site for the creation and distribution of hegemonic and counterhegemonic visual images of racialized bodies, Nakamura has significantly contributed to the theory of racial formation in digital cultures. Her publications include Race After the Internet (2011, co-edited with Peter Chow-White) and Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (2007).

Playing with Digital Histories in the R-CADE

James J. Brown, Jr., Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Digital Studies Center, Rutgers University-Camden
Robert A. Emmons, Jr., Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and Associate Director of the Digital Studies Center, Rutgers University-Camden

Friday, September 22, 2017, 12pm
Humanities Center, Conference Room D

In 2014, Robert Emmons and Jim Brown launched the Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE), a collection of digital artifacts made available for research and creative activities. Scholars are free to take apart, dissect, and repurpose artifacts in the R-CADE as they attempt to understand their historical and cultural significance. While the R-CADE does not preserve in the sense of keeping objects in their “original” condition, the archive is in fact an exercise in the preservation of digital culture. The R-CADE has expanded and changed in the intervening three years, and this presentation will discuss the genesis of the project, its theoretical underpinnings, and how the annual R-CADE Symposium has grown. Emmons and Brown will share some of the work that has emerged from the R-CADE and will discuss some of the project’s future directions.


How To Decolonize the Digital Humanities: Or A Practical Guide

Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English, Vassar College

Friday, April 14, 2017, 1pm
Gamble Room, Rush Rhees Library

Responding to digital humanities’ issues with openness, race, disability, LGBTQ, feminist, and other kinds of non-normative bodies in the field, Dorothy Kim will outline a set of practical steps to #decolonizeDH, or to make it less white, heteropatriarchal, male, and ableist. She asks what are the field, departmental, and institutional steps to #decolonizeDH? What are the considerations that must be addressed in terms of politics, local action, education, and resistance?

Co-Sponsored by the Central New York Humanities Corridor, from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Department of Art & Art History, Department of English, Department of Modern Languages & Cultures, Film & Media Studies, Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, the Digital Scholarship Lab, and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Digital Humanities at the University of Rochester.

Building the Sibley Watson Digital Archive

Joe Easterly, Digital Humanities Librarian, University of Rochester
Margie Searl, Research Curator, Memorial Art Gallery
Lu Harper, Art Librarian, Memorial Art Gallery

Friday, December 2nd, 2016, 1 pm
Morey Hall Room 321

Please join us for an in-depth discussion of a new digital project due to be launched by early December: the Sibley Watson Digital Archive, a collaborative project begun in 2014 between the University of Rochester, the Memorial Art Gallery, and the George Eastman Museum.

This archive is a scalable, extensible, standards-based framework for publishing family papers and related photographic material that exposes and unites hidden collections from multiple institutions, in a curated online environment allowing for multiple access points, and documenting the history of multiple generations of Rochester’s Sibley and Watson families. These families’ contributions to American culture and science are manifold: best known are Hiram Sibley and Don Alonzo Watson, who were instrumental in founding Western Union in the 1850s. Sibley’s daughter Emily Sibley and Watson’s son James Sibley Watson became husband and wife, and were responsible for the founding and later expansion of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. Their son James Sibley Watson, Jr. was a radiologist, an important amateur filmmaker, and the publisher of one of the 20th century’s major literary journals, The Dial.

During their talk, Joe Easterly, Margie Searl and Lu Harper will be discussing the challenges and rewards of collaborating on digital projects where the materials are spread across multiple institutions, as well as content specific to the archive, such as travel at the turn of the 20th century, and the role the Sibley Watson family played in the development of University of Rochester and its community.

Making Interdisciplinarity Work: Developing an Undergraduate Digital Humanities Program at a Technical Institute

Dr. Tamar Carroll, Dr. Lisa Hermsen, Dr. Rebecca Scales of Rochester Institute of Technology

Friday, September 23rd, 2016, 12:00pm
Gamble Room

This fall, undergraduates at the Rochester Institute of Technology were offered a new major in the College of Liberal Arts: Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. RIT is among a rising contingent of institutions addressing the call for the integration of new technologies into humanistic and social scientific research. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the field, RIT’s new major gathers faculty from the Golisano College of Computing, the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, and the College of Liberal Arts.

Video Games and Learning

Kristina Textor, Warner School of Education
Friday, February 5th, 2016, 12:00pm
321 Morey Hall

Textor delivered a talk on ‘Video Games and Learning’, in which she argued for the pedagogical value of video games. During a fellowship at the National Museum of Play in 2014, she researched ways for games to develop players’ understanding of gender roles. Her more recent work at the University of Rochester has included the creation of events reaching out to students and faculty from all departments, promoting the interdisciplinary potential of video game research.

The Changing Face of the Library

Kyle Parry, Mantra Roy, and Marie L. Turner
Friday, November 20, 2015, 12:00 pm
321 Morey Hall

In May of this year, the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries announced their award of a $100,672 Officer’s Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a pilot program: The Digital Humanities Institute for Mid-Career Librarians. This training initiative demonstrates the university’s growing investment in advancing interdisciplinary scholarly practices in a technology-rich environment and developing the leadership necessary for next-generation digital scholarship.

On November 20, we welcome new faces in Rush Rhees whose work reflects the library’s mission to support digital humanistic study. Our presenters include Kyle Parry, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Visual Studies; Mantra Roy, Humanities Outreach Librarian; and Marie L. Turner, Director of Rossell Hope Robbins Library and Koller-Collins Center for English Studies.

Virtually Preserving the Buffalo State Asylum

Lisa Hermsen and Shaun Foster
Friday, September 18, 2015, 12:00 pm
Gamble Room (#361) of Rush Rhees Library

Our presenters on September 18 were Lisa Hermsen (Professor and Caroline Werner Gannett Endowed Chair of English) and Shaun Foster (Assistant Professor of 3D Digital Design) of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Hermsen, Foster, and a team of RIT students are building a complete 3D rendering of the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, one of the largest and best examples of a “Kirkbride Plan” asylum in the nation, as it appeared in the late nineteenth century. Their DH project brings H.H. Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted’s architecture to life as a fully accessible, participatory, and “restored” virtual complex. For more info about the project, visit: http://buffaloasylum3d.weebly.com.


THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) “unconferences” are informal and participatory events in which most sessions are group discussions, hands-on workshops, productive working sessions, or pop-up collaborations among participants. By following the model of a THATCamp, we hope to foster an open and spontaneous environment to engage an interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners. THATCamp Rochester will be organized around the intersections between digital technologies  and the public’s experience of material objects in museums, archives, and new media. We also welcome sessions more broadly related to digital scholarship and pedagogy.

The University of Rochester hosted a featured speaker, Michael Phelps, on Thursday, March 22, at 5 p.m. Phelps directs a multi-spectral imaging project at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt where he uses digital technologies to recover damaged and previously unknown ancient manuscripts.  St. Catherine’s Monastery has one of the oldest continuously operating libraries, founded in the fourth century.  Phelp discussed his work as the director he Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL), and was present as an interlocutor at THATCamp on Friday, March 23.

THATCamp Rochester is a collaboration between the The Digital Humanities and Social Sciences program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Program in the Digital Humanities at the University of Rochester, and the Memorial Art Gallery.

No Data, No Change: Measuring Justice One County at a Time

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A Digital Humanities Lunch with Measures for Justice
Keturah Bixby (Data Wrangler)
Hillary Livingston (Research Fellow)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | 12-2PM
VISTA Collaboratory, Carlson Library
University of Rochester River Campus

Measures For Justice (MFJ) is an independent non-profit organization that collects data from criminal justice agencies across the U.S. to measure the performance of local criminal justice. If you are interested in the real world applications of data, MFJ provides a roadmap with our criminal justice work. Collaboration between research and technology allowed us to create an interactive public data website, bringing transparency to criminal justice data and informing decision makers across the system. Working with multi-source raw data presents many challenges, but the methodology and tools we built allow us to standardize data and present it in a clear and contextualized manner for a wide range of audiences to utilize. Come discuss the trials and successes of working with criminal justice data, and how to take your research from academic projects to systemic impact.

Erin Francisco

Education: B.A., Elmira College, English, 2009; M.F.A., California College of the Arts, Writing, 2011; M.A., University of Rochester, English, 2018. 

Bio: Erin Francisco is a third-year Ph.D. student in the English Department at the University of Rochester specializing in twentieth-century American literature. Her research interests are grounded in Environmental Humanities with a particular focus on back-to-the-land memoirs and critical discourse surrounding race, gender, and nature in both fiction and non-fiction narratives.