Log Cabins in the Sky

As a Senior Digital Scholarship Fellow, I was thought I was well prepared to learn any new type of digital tool. I by no means would call myself a digital tool master, but I thought I was pretty capable of learning a new platform. So when R.C suggested I try to use Mukurtu as my digital platform, I thought to myself “I can totally do this” “It will be like learning WordPress and Scalar. Right?” I was WRONG, completely wrong. Learning Scalar was a walk in the park compared to Mukurtu. Learning Mukurtu is like a walk across No Man’s Land.

To give a visual representation, my Scalar dashboard looked something like this…

And my Mukurtu dashboard looks something like this

My research has also been incredibly frustrating. I have been able to identify some of the people in the photographs but these identifications have often lead to dead ends. I really want to use these photographs to tell a story. Specifically a story through the Indigenous lens. Although Dickinson’s resource center has been incredibly helpful, there is only so much an online archive can do. Additionally, most the information available and saved are from the perspective of school administrators, not the students themselves.

Although both Mukurtu and my research have been a confusing and frustrating, my confusion and frustrations have taught me a valuable lesson on research and failure. I find myself comparing my DSSF 2017 experience to my DSSF 2016 experience when I shouldn’t. Last year I chose a project that Special Collections could easily pull material for and I chose a platform that people were familiar with. This year, I chose a topic that Special Collections did not have a lot of information about and a platform that no one knows how to use. Comparing my two summer experiences is like comparing apples and oranges. Instead of beating myself up, I should remind myself that I am simply learning and growing as a scholar. Research takes time, a lot of time. My frustrations over dead ends and my failures show that I care deeply about my research. While failure is frustrating, it is also the biggest motivator to research and work harder. Failure is okay. You might not be able to build a castle in 10 weeks but you sure can make a log cabin.

Best Wishes,



Project Update

At this point, we are a little over the halfway point for our summer. My project work so far has been similar to the work I did last summer; I’ve identified five more events to add to my timeline, charted the story of each event using stories in The Gettysburgian, and added the summaries to my scalar site. My hope for this summer is that, because I’ve completed most of the work I’ve done last summer, I will be able to explore more ways to use scalar to my advantage, especially through the annotation tool, and can provide more context for each of my events.

When I returned to my research at the beginning of the summer, I felt very frustrated by both my research itself and its presentation. Last summer, I did not know what my research would entail. Consequently, I was energized whenever I found something relevant to my project. However, as I’ve continued, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the lack of information surrounding each event, especially because I want my website to interest users enough for them to become involved in activism themselves. As I discovered last summer, most instances of student-led social justice movements were led by small groups of people and were only briefly sustained. As such, people did not devote a lot of energy to documentation. Particularly frustrating is the lack of media available for each event. As much as I try to provide a comprehensive history of the social movement in question, many events on my website feel incomplete.

However, I think that hope is far from lost. What We Did Here, Musselman Library’s digital collection for activism on campus, has been receiving submissions since the fall. Seeing as it is more effective than my own attempt at crowd-sourcing, I hope to incorporate it into my website.  I also used a slightly different research method this summer than I did last year. Rather than starting with college histories and issues of The Gettysburgian, I started in special collections and framed my events around materials we have in vertical files. This way, I was guaranteed that there would be supplemental media my users could interact with. On the whole, I’m hoping that the five new events I add to my timeline will be more interactive and comprehensive, and that they will help to emphasize the importance of campus activism and the need for other students to become involved.

Je suis prest!

Like my fellow colleagues, I found Ryan Cordell’s article “How Not to Teach Digital Humanities” a breath of fresh air. I appreciate the fact his work was both real and honest. Additionally, Cordell addressed many of the frustrations I have been having with Digital Humanities lately. Reflecting back on my year-long experience as a Digital Scholar, I think I can now adequately unpack my frustrations and hopefully propose a better way to immerse undergraduates in DH.

Coming into the fellowship as a rising sophomore was both exciting and intimidating. I was excited to research and learn more about DH but was intimidated by the digital aspect of the fellowship. I was completely terrified that I was going to fail. As I progressed on my 10 week DH journey, the fear of failing started to melt away. I found that through DH, I could make an impact and was excited and proud of what I was doing. I loved the fact that through DH, I could share my passions with a public audience.

As I continue on this DH journey, I find that the “honeymoon phase” has worn off. I still believe in DH but I am starting to find cracks and imperfections on its surface. Coming into this fellowship a second time, I can honestly say that I am not as enchanted with DH as I was a year ago. I keep getting hung up on the question “What is DH?” or more specifically “What is DH and why is it relevant?” I think undergraduates tend to care more about the question “Why is it relevant?” than the question “What is DH?” .

Undergraduates completely fail to understand why digital humanities is relevant. Cordell is right when he writes “As an opening gambit, I want to suggest that undergraduate students do not care about digital humanities.” Undergraduates don’t care about DH because we are failing to make DH relevant to them. I have to agree with Lauren’s conclusion to why undergraduates at Gettysburg College have not immersed themselves in the field of DH. DH is time-consuming and many students don’t want to take the time to learn about DH. They simply just want to learn how they can use a tool to get an A on an assignment. Additionally, many students are not exactly passionate or interested in the project they were asked to create. I believe this disinterest in the project hinders a student’s ability to truly connect with DH. I am passionate about DH because I believe that DH gives me a space to educate the public about my passion. Completing a mandatory digital project does not leave undergrads with the same feelings of passion that I have.

In order to get undergraduates excited about DH, I think we need to show them how DH can be used to further their own research and academic passions. We need to make DH relevant to their own specific interests. Furthermore, instead of talking about DH in theory, we need to give them tangible examples of how DH has induced change.

I believe that the DSSF cohort can “make DH relevant” to undergrads. Instead of focusing on the larger and broader questions of DH, let’s start narrowing our focus to the needs of undergrads. Although I have left the honeymoon phase, I am not ready to get a divorce from DH. Instead, I am ready to develop a better way to teach DH to undergraduates.

So, in the words of Jamie Fraser “Je Suis Prest!”

Best Wishes,


We Need More Undergrads

I found Ryan Cordell’s article, “How Not to Teach Digital Humanities,” to be particularly refreshing because he did not shy away from addressing a number of things I’ve experienced when I try to mentor fellow undergrads (or in my own undergraduate experience in DH). His assertion, “that we must work to take both undergraduate disinterest and graduate resistance as instructive for the future of DH in the classroom,” is incredibly important. It’s tempting to ignore undergraduate apathy, or to gloss over it by idealizing digital humanities as being  a brand-new and flawless alternative to traditional scholarship, but doing so further alienates undergraduates and hinders the constructive development and growth of the field. In thinking about this blog post, I reflected on my now year-long experience in DH and developed a few hypotheses about why Gettysburg undergraduates haven’t engaged with digital projects.

I entered the field of DH last summer as a digital scholarship summer fellow. As such, my sole focus for ten weeks was digital scholarship–both the theory behind the field and how I could apply the theory to transform and present my own personal research interest. Initially, the field was scary; I was wandering into unfamiliar territory and working with previously unheard of tools. However, I had the resources and time I needed to work my way through the field and produce a project I was proud of. The “so what?” of digital humanities became clear to me–I felt like I was making a difference and potentially educating others.

Unfortunately, I do not think that most undergraduates who are assigned digital projects at Gettysburg over the course of the school year feel the same as I did at the conclusion of last summer. In my opinion, (and from what I know from my experience), the number one reason why undergraduates don’t engage with the digital humanities is because they do not have the time that they need to immerse themselves in the field during the semester. Consequently, they miss the all important “so what?” that validated my summer research and brought me back to the program as a senior fellow. When students are asked to complete digital projects during the school year, they are often rushed, stressed, and not necessarily interested in the project that they’ve been asked to complete. Under these conditions, time is budgeted according to priority. A major reason why Julia, Keira, and I chose to do the fellowship last summer was because we were passionate about our self-selected research topic. Prioritizing digital tools and facets of DH theory was worth it for the sake of actively engaging with and educating others on a topic we cared about. Our projects were also interminable–we were prepared to return to them and continue their life. It is unlikely that a student would feel the same way about a project assigned to their class. Ordinarily, the project would be an item on a checklist, completed for the sake of a grade, and then left once the project was over.

As discouraging as this may seem, I do think that there is a concrete way to bridge undergraduates and the digital humanities–involving more undergraduates in programs like the digital scholarship fellowship, and giving undergraduates representation within DH. Julia, Keira, and I all understand the challenges that may prevent a student from involving themselves in DH for the sake of a school project. However, we also know all of the benefits of being a DH practitioner, and why introducing and using digital tools is so important. Accordingly, we lower the barrier of entry by showing the student that one of their peers was able to create a project, and can provide them with feasible advice and scope for their own work. Additionally, it is important for more and more undergraduates to share their experiences and projects at conferences and within their colleges or universities. Too often, undergrads are mentioned at conferences, but are not there themselves. Fellow non-undergraduate DH practitioners can gain realistic insight by hearing from students, and undergraduate researchers see themselves represented, which is important for developing interest in the field and forming a functioning community of practice.

A Dead Poets Society Moment

One thing that struck me about this article was that it addressed my confusion about my frustration about the field that I’ve been feeling lately. After being immersed in DH and the DH community for about a year, I’ve noticed something: we never stop asking what DH is. We opened last summer with the question “what is DH?” and we opened the first conference of the summer, a year later, the PALA workshop opened with asking “what is DH?”. As DSSFs we fully expect to be immersed in the field so questions of asking what the field is, in the beginning, is expected. However, these articles and discussions are not easy to understand for beginners and use jargon like “pedagogy”, “Community of practice”, and even “Digital Humanities” itself.  If you’re being introduced to DH and have no idea what Digital Humanities is, these articles and discussions will confuse you. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that discussions about “what is DH?” is for audiences who are familiar with DH, not people just being introduced.

So why do we always ask what DH is? Haven’t we come to a pretty solid conclusion as a community right now? If DH prides itself on openness and accessibility, why are discussions and papers that discuss the concepts and definitions of the field littered with jargon and theory, assuming that their audience are never beginners in DH? I get it. Once you’ve been so immersed in a field you forget what it’s like to be a beginner, for everything to be new, strange, and confusing.

There is elitism in DH. We have built ourselves an ivory tower. Say what you want about History and History’s high ivory tower of academia but there is a low barrier of entry into the history community because anyone could pick up a book, go to a historic site, see a sign, hear from their family, etc. and be touched by history and pursue it. There are millions of non-academic historians and millions of academic historians as well. There is elitism in history but in a different way. History is like a backdoor speakeasy, where you can get into the main establishment easily, but to get into the academic area, you need to know a password or know someone to get in. Digital Humanities is more like the Ravenclaw common room, where you must answer a question to get in at all and much like in the Harry Potter books, there will be frustrated students who do not understand that will be left outside.

In my experience with teaching digital tools to students who weren’t necessarily in DH, I wouldn’t just hand them Lisa Spiro and say “Welcome to DH, now tell me: what is DH?”. That’s not what makes Digital Humanities. While readings do help further understand the field, I don’t feel they’re as constructive to beginners. I feel like I’ve learned the most about the field by doing my own projects, looking at and teaching tools, interacting with others projects and talking with other scholars.

While I agree with the author on many things, I disagree on one thing: I do believe that Digital Humanities can have a “Dead Poets Society moment”.

“In many ways, I think the way we often frame DH tries a bit too hard to achieve a Dead Poets Society moment: “your other teachers taught you literature with close reading and literary criticism, but in my class we’re going to disrupt that stale paradigm using computers. Now rip up your books and pull out your laptop!” But those attempts fall flat, for all the reasons I have tried to articulate thus far.”

-Ryan Cordell, “How Not to Teach Digital Humanities”

I don’t know if you’ve seen Dead Poets Society but ripping pages out of the book is not the purpose of that scene.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman: “O me, o life of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, o me, o life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. . .What will your verse be?”

-Robin Williams, “Dead Poets Society”

The human race is still filled with passion. Even with all the assumptions that technology is making us lifeless and brain-dead, we are undeniably filled with passion. Just like the author in his own course makes a comparison between Digital Humanities and Traditional Humanities by recalling that the Gutenberg Press was once newfangled technology and its opposition by traditional fields at the time; humanity has always found a way to express themselves and has adapted to new technology. The reason why that scene is so powerful is because everyone can relate as members of the human race that feel and love and dream. Instead repeatedly asking “What is DH?” to beginners who don’t even know what the acronym ‘DH’ is, maybe we should finally give an answer and that answer could be as simple as “It exists. It is an expression of life and identity through a new medium.”. Instead of focusing the field on that one question, we should focus on engagement and contribution because that powerful play goes on, life goes on, and we may contribute a verse. Asking “What is DH?” for the 1000000000th time might sustain the life of the field, but digital projects and engagement are what makes the field worthwhile.



Segregation in so called diversity

When I was assigned this blog post: “How do we resist, in the sense of resisting the narratives you are working with, the tools you have been presented with, the challenges and biases you have faced as a student researcher/digital scholar, and even your own research?” Memories of everyone telling me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl or an undergraduate researcher flooded into my head all at once. I hoped to take the weekend to clear my head and find an answer because I didn’t think that just researching military subjects as a woman was an acceptable answer. Just existing can be a form of resistance in some cases, especially more extreme ones, but I don’t consider that my case. I thought about it over the weekend, especially as I went to two events with very different audiences: The Civil War Institute Conference, with a demographic of mainly older, white, straight, men; and D.C. Pride, a celebration of the LGBTQA+ community, with more diversity of races, ages, sexualities, etc. than I think I’ve ever seen. While I went to Pride and talked to people about what I was doing with research, I felt guilty. Why was I not covering these people? My people.

It’s been a constant debate in my mind: should I be doing something else? My project is literally following the cream of the crop of America, young white men with the privilege that got them into West Point in the first place. Many are from prestigious or rich families, others had fathers who had political or upper-echelon military connections. Am I resisting by merely being a woman doing this research? There are no women, no people of color, very little diversity in nationality or religion, and per many historians, LGBTQA+ did not exist until the sexual revolution in the 20th century. Am I continuing the Great White Man tradition of history?

Especially among higher up academics that I have talked with, there seems to be a discouragement from women doing any other history besides gender history, or more specifically women’s history. Especially in war. Because of the “new cultural history” there has been a focus on diverse scholars covering diverse topics, but only the topics that fit them. Women should focus on women’s history, black people should work on black history, and so on. Like the Civil War for example, women focus on Southern women, Clara Barton, mourning dresses, etc. That’s not diversity, that is segregation.

“Only a small number of female historians – notably Barbara Tuchman – have specialised in military subjects, while feminist academics have highlighted specific contributions made by women.” -Katie Adie (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/23/first-world-war-women-remember-them)

Feminism is equality. Feminism in academia does not mean shoving women into a separate space in which they can just do women’s history. Feminism in academia means letting women go into whatever subfield of history they desire and integrating them with the existing community. Resistance in history can mean studying rights movements and telling untold narratives but it can also mean changing the community of history. Existence is not enough; normalization is the goal. When a fifteen-year-old girl isn’t mocked for going into military history, or a sophomore college student isn’t told that she should go into gender studies simply because it’s what women in history do, that’s when we’ll know.

“The gender of the scholar is beside the point and limiting our reading of a particular approach to one set of voices can only serve to diminish debate and, ultimately understanding. So dividing facets of the history of the war into men’s and women’s history is a pointless exercise.” – Jessica Meyer (https://armsandthemedicalman.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/on-being-a-woman-and-a-war-historian/)

Progress comes from the inside, the narrative will change when the community changes, and we have a long way to go.


Why Resistance Matters

In their chapter, “Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Age of Ferguson,” Amy Earheart and Toniesha Taylor discuss their project, White Violence, Black Resistance, which blends activism and digital scholarship into a cohesive entity. As I was reading the chapter, I recognized a number of similarities between Earheart and Taylor’s work and my own. One of the goals for my project has been to highlight the narratives of people who have been left out of mainstream campus histories–this is also a goal of What We Did Here–simultaneously, White Violence, Black Resistance is an attempt to “disrupt erasure.” Both projects, then, are projects of resistance. In their text, Earheart and Taylor write, “A focus on points of resistance is central to student learning. Just as we as faculty collaborators interrogate moments of resistance in our partnership, we encourage students to understand how points of resistance in their own work, in the historical narrative, or the technical interface reveal crucial moments of engagement and insight. Instead of following a lockstep approach to a text, we ask the students to creatively interrogate the text within a broader context.” In my opinion and experience, resistance is marked by three qualifiers: it is driven by need, strengthened by collaboration, and requires active participation. As Earheart and Taylor imply, this resistance extends past projects, and it opens possibilities–a phenomenon we have come into contact with a number of our responsibilities as senior fellows.

As alluded to earlier, I thought there were a number of similarities between White Violence, Black Resistance and the two projects I have been working on–This is Why We Fight, and What We Did Here. The projects are driven by a need to recover narratives that have historically been excluded, they are strengthened and made possible by a number of partnerships, (my project and What We Did Here would not have been possible without the support of Musselman Library and the Digital Scholarship Working group, and rely on group contribution, while White Violence, Black Resistance relies on Earheart and Taylor’s teamwork and the incorporation of their students), and they come to fruition because people put forth the action and effort they need to be completed.

Taylor and Earheart’s chapter also talks about lowering barriers of entry so that the greatest number of people possible can connect and involve themselves with their project. This is also an act of resistance as it disrupts a normal hierarchy of involvement within university and digital systems. As digital fellows, we are attempting to do the same thing with our OER. There is a need for making digital tools and projects more accessible to a greater number and range of people–this is something we discussed when we defined openness and accessibility as being one of our cohort’s DH values this summer. Our OER is a collaborative effort-we are all creating it together, and it will be reviewed by a number of people. We also have to make an active effort beyond simply making the project in thinking critically about our audience and what we hope that they understand from our lesson. By creating a source that is open to a general audience, we are resisting elitist and exclusive narratives.

In the digital humanities and other learning pursuits, resistance becomes an opportunity for education and enrichment because it requires that the learners define their needs, utilize collaboration, and actively engage with whatever situation they are placed in. Though resistance may be challenging, it is productive and influential, and I am excited to see it being incorporated into dssf17.

Resistance is futile??? or fruitful??

According to Google, the definition of the word resistance means the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. Applying the definitions that Google has provided to digital scholarship, I believe that digital scholarship only applies to the first part of the definition. From everything I have learned throughout the year, digital scholarship seeks to not accept or comply with the standards of tradition. Rather, we digital humanists seek to break and “resist” the traditional narrative. However, digital scholarship does not completely fit the second half of the definition. Digital Humanities does not prevent arguments or actions but rather, welcome a diverse group of voices and narrative.

The reading “Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Face of Ferguson” directly applies the idea of resistance to the field of Digital Humanities. The writers of this article resist a number of things throughout the text. The first part of the article sought to resist the current digital project model that required a very high degree of expertise and knowledge. They acknowledge the fact the DigitaHumanitieses can be very exclusive and even at times a privilege. To break the mold they decided to “select technologies with low entry points to encourage a range of participation”. The article also discusses using digital humanities to break down traditional narratives and topics. White Violence, Black Resistance is a collaborative project that resists the traditional historical narrative and strives to “digitize a broad set of primary documents related to interactions of race and power” and recover long forgotten histories of black towns and spaces in Texas and the University.The project definitely puts the idea of resistance into practice.

The article also challenges the readers to “encourage students to understand how points of resistance in their own work, in the historical narrative, or the technical interface reveal crucial moments of engagement and insight”. This quote does apply to the work we digital humanities do, but in a much larger context, this applies to all academic scholarship. As scholars, we are taught to interrogate and reflect on what we are learning. Being able to resist and challenge our own work, historical narratives, and technical interface makes us better scholars.

Throughout the entirety of the Digital Scholarship program at Gettysburg College, I think we have applied the idea of “resistance” to our own individual and collaborative projects. But I am not sure if the word “resistance”  is the correct word to use to describe what we have done here. Rather, I would like to use the word “challenge”. I think we have challenged our ideas of scholarship and even at times digital humanities, through open discussion and collaboration.  We have also challenged the traditional historic narratives through our individual research and projects.

Through my own work and experience, I have definitely been challenged and challenged others. By collaborating with multiple professors and students, I hope I have been able to challenge their view of digital scholarship and digital tools. My project this summer seeks to challenge and break the traditional historic narrative. I am working with a set of photographs of Native students from Carlisle Indian School. I specifically want to challenge the traditional narrative of the Native American History and the legacy of the Carlisle Indian School. Researching and planning this project has definitely had its challenges. My biggest concern is how to accurately and respectfully present these photographs and people. I definitely have my own set of biases and that I need to address and investigate.  But I hope to continue resisting and challenging my own work and scholarship.

Best Wishes,


I’m not tired of traditionally masculine spaces at all

So I know as a Senior Fellow I don’t have to do a micropost but this needs to be said.

Let me tell you something about my project and what I do: IT’S HARD.

What I do is hard. I’m going into a field that is already greatly skeptical and highly critical of any new members. I make tons of jokes about it: like if I had a dollar for everytime someone says “that’s not lady-like” I could pay my college tuition.  Funny, right? You know what’s not funny? Literally being laughed out of a military history class in high school because you’re a woman. Dreading the response of someone when they ask, “what do you want to do?”. Being told what you’re doing is worthless and won’t get you into grad school. Maybe you should go into women’s history because you’re a woman and you obviously you can’t do any other history outside your gender.

Throughout being laughed at, ignored, interrupted, disregarded, and criticized I have tried to keep an upper hand and keep my chin up. My life has literally become my cadets because if I were any less passionate or driven I would’ve given up. I would’ve given up the first week of my military history class in high school and sometimes I wish I did, it would’ve been so much easier.

I devote so much time to records because if I say I don’t know something I am automatically brushed off as a silly girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing. Sometimes I talk over people because so many times so often if I don’t talk over people I don’t get heard at all. I take on an enormous workload in short time periods because if I don’t it will be perceived that I’m not dedicated or I don’t have what it takes. And I can’t let anything get to me or else I am perceived as weak and I don’t belong for a reason.

I know I don’t belong already. It’s abundantly clear as I can name less than ten influential women warriors in history and even fewer women military historians. It’s hard to know you’re not accepted in your field and even harder when people don’t realize how hard it will be for me to get into the field much less change it.  My mantra is “You have to work twice as hard to get even half as far as they are”. If you think that’s extreme, I’d love to see you go through half as many records as I have, contact half as many references and have them laugh in your face, or devote half as much time as I do to my site and my cadets. Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do unless you’ve been in my heels for a day.

It is hard. It is overwhelming. It is exhausting. It is what I do every day and I’m expected to suck it up and take it like a man, which is exactly what I’ll do after I vent a bit with this post.