After having experience using the Scalar website as a home page for my project and using WordPress as the host for the mini-project, I leaned more toward hosting my individual project on WordPress as well. Scalar gives a wonderful opportunity to direct the reader on the pathways in order to perceive the story as the author wants it to be perceived. In the case of a WordPress website, an audience has more freedom going in between pages and all of them are very much up-front.

Below you could see the general structure of my website with main pages and subpages. I decided to draw the website wireframe by hand because it was easier for me to envision this way.

 First Original Georgian Opera – Abesalom and Eteri by Zacharia Paliashvili

Each page will use a couple of digital tools. Mostly I am going to use TimelineJS, StoryMapJS. For exploring some sections of the Opera I am going to use Thinglink. In order to bring some context and annotate newspapers that project significant insights for the main argument of the project, I am going to use Zoomify in order to analyze different sections of the newspaper pages and then include those on StoryMapJS.

Most of the pages will have at list one digital tool used because these four weeks really showed me that the most effective way to convey the narration of any project is using DH tools extensively.

Especially in my case as my centerpiece is a musical work and posters and newspapers are not in English, annotating those with digital tools and making it more interactive is very crucial for engaging an audience.

The music page is going to be one of the heaviest pages with the digital tools and it is going to incorporate two digital tools that we have not covered as a group during the workshops. However, Thinglink and Zoomify are pretty intuitive, and using the Digital Humanities Toolkit website is a wonderful source in order to direct me exploring those. Both tools are amazing sources for annotating pictures and scanned documents and the final product is very interactive and user-friendly which is my main goal for the project.

I am sure my wireframe is going to shift and some of the pages could transform into one or I am going to skip some of them. However, having a skeleton of my website is very crucial for evaluating my limits and what I can achieve in the next four weeks. It also gives me a nice glance of the final product that is very motivational.

Written by Ana Vashakmadze ’22, Student at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, Gettysburg College, part of the DSSF Summer ’21 wonderful Cohort.

Project Charter

Project Charter – Ana Vashakmadze

  • Project Name
    • Title – First Original Georgian Opera – Abesalom and Eteri by Zacharia Paliashvili
  • Project Owner
    • Ana Vashakmadze
  • Project Summary

My research is about the Georgian opera Abesalom and Eteri by Zacharia Paliashvili (1871-1933) which was premiered in 1919, the year after Georgia reestablished independence from the Russian Empire. This opera was a culmination of a multidisciplinary movement for maintaining national identity which has always been closely attached to and influenced by Georgian musical culture. The threat of losing national identity under the occupation accelerated the professionalization of Georgian music. This research draws upon the political and historical context, the composer’s archival materials in Georgian, and the opera’s music and lyrics to explore the composition as a bridge between different musical cultures and historical episodes.

During summer 2020 I was a Kolbe Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Marta Robertson. We have worked on the larger picture of the research, including finding secondary sources, having interviews with Georgian musicologists and musicians, observing primary materials from the composer’s museum, and writing micro-essays for the future website. The main challenge was balancing between contextualizing the research and learning new tools for transforming my ideas into the digital world under the mentorship of R.C. Miessler.

Throughout the DH Fellowship, my main goal is to dive into the concrete fragments of the research, after working on the larger picture. My plan is to have a bilingual website: English and Georgian.

The website will have an opening introductory page. The menu will include larger topics at first: “About Composer,” “About Opera,” “Historical Atmosphere,” “Continuum of the Opera.” Each main page will have sub-pages with more multi-media elements, such as maps, timelines, storytelling sections, musical Sections, and others.

The website will start with a wider glance of the topic and an audience will be able to choose the direction where they want to dive in more.

Having a bilingual website broadens my audience globally. I would love this website to be accessible for a person who hears about the opera for the first time as well as for scholars who are interested in more in-depth analysis. I hope this website can become an interesting source for students, faculty, and scholars who could be doing research about this opera, or are interested in Eastern European musical culture and the concept of nationalism in classical music. My goal will be to catch the golden mean, between accessibility and professional scholarly research while building the website.

  • Deliverables
  • Research Question/Thesis 
  • Media Elements: Pictures, Videos, Audios, Score, Posters
  • Secondary Sources: Score, Journal Articles, Books, Maps
  • Primary Sources: Interviews, Letters, Pictures
  • Digital Tools:
  • WordPress/Scalar website
  • Timeline JS
  • StoryMapJS
  • ArcGIS
  • Timeline
Week 1 (6/7 – 6/11) 
1) Meet with the mentor.
2) Collect all the previously researched materials.
Sorting out the ones that are relevant for the DH project.
3) Brainstorming digital tools that I am going to use.
Week 2 (6/14 – 6/18)
1) Project charter – due 6/18 
2) Meet with the mentor and identifying most of the tools that I am going to use.
3) Work on getting all the secondary materials needed for the gaps.
4) Identifying missing primary sources and communicating with the library/museum.  
Week 3 (6/21 – 6/25) 
1) Wireframes – due 6/25 
2) Meet with the mentor and discuss website structure/show the first steps of using the digital tools.
3) Get those primary sources by the end of the week (museum/local library)
4) Further discussion of the possible copyright issues.
5) Visualization/digitalization of the interviews.
6)Finalizing all the digital sources.
Week 4 (6/28 – 7/1) 
1) Meet with the mentor.  
2)Taking care of possible interviews if planned. 
3) Working on TimelineJS/StoryMapJS/ArcGIS
4) Structuring my website.
Week 5 (7/6 – 7/9) 
Visualization due 7/9 
1) Meet with the mentor: discussing what I am missing.
2) Working extensively on texts/translating.
3) Possible digital edits, additions, corrections.
4) Reviewing the topic/thesis.    
Week 6 (7/12 – 7/16) 
1) First project draft – due 7/16 
2) Mostly working on the design of the website.
3) Working on the identified gaps (contextual or technological)
4) Embedding all the separate digital parts into the main website.  
Week 7 (7/19 – 7/23) 
1) Final project draft – due 7/23 
2) Meet the mentor at the beginning of the week: going through the strucutre of the website. 
3) Working on all the flaws and missing parts.
4) Building the presentation/identifying what I need to work on/polish.
Week 8 (7/26-7/30) Presentation 
1) Any final edits/should be mostly technological.
2) Practice the presentation.
3) Meeting with my mentor to overview the whole experience and future possibilities for the project.  
  • My goal is to have a finalized version of this project by the end of the fellowship. However, I would love to go back to it from time to time as I keep growing as a scholar and musician. Taking into consideration the importance of this opera in today’s Georgian musical reality, I hope, the project is going to have a long lifespan. It would be amazing if other scholars get interested in the topic and the opera itself and they will be willing to contribute or collaborate with the initial project.

Written by Ana Vashakmadze ’22, Student at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, Gettysburg College, part of the DSSF Summer ’21 wonderful Cohort.

Reflective Post 1

Reexploring DH

Exactly a week ago, I had my own ideas and stereotypes regarding the idea of Digital Humanities. It was somewhere in between my consciousness and subconsciousness. I was sure that I could uphold DH values, however, it was the moment that I did not have clearly established and defined to myself what those values actually were. The idea, which I loved even before reexploring DH independently and profoundly, was accessibility. I believe DH aims to reach out diverse and wide audience despite their expertise. At the same time, the language for the DH project should be inclusive and welcoming. Since last Monday my fenced box for DH definition has been expanding and I have been enjoying the interdisciplinary humanism of it and the collaborative and friendly spirits of people involved in DH.

Last week we had to brainstorm and define three concepts: digital, humanities, and then DH values. I realized that I had a hard time defining digital by itself because of the discourse of our fellowship. I also struggled to define humanities, because I don’t think it has a vivid border anymore. However, in terms of DH, my mind had the most freedom to get creative and excited. And I acknowledged this is the main reason why I want to be a part of the DH world because it advocates unlimited creativity and freedom within its values.

Then I read “This Is Why We Fight”: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities by Lisa Spiro, who beautifully describes and evaluates the following DH values: Openness, Collaboration, Collegiality and Connectedness, Diversity, Experimentation. Her definition of each well-known concept started triggering excitement in my mind for perceiving the beautiful nature of DH. I especially enjoyed accenting the relationship part of this field. How much DH values healthy, supporting, and open relationships in order to achieve a goal. She introduces the idea of a non-hierarchical community where each contributor’s expertise is fully acknowledged and respected, but yet the community by itself is non-hierarchical with its nature. Another highlight for me was the importance of experimentation and even failure in the process of building something new in the DH world. I think curiosity toward a challenge is very often a wonderful pathway of creating something that is going to be innovative. And the failure of this challenge for the first attempt only shows the courage of the initiators to take something risky and trust their curiosity. As Lisa Spiro reinforces failure becomes a wonderful lesson for the DH community for the future successful final product.

Amanda Visconti in her talk Digital Humanities: What? Why? How goes more in-depth analyzing different questions around the DH. She emphasizes what she believes is DH, what it is not, how much creativity and originality is required in DH, whether people involved in DH automatically become scholars, and does even titles in DH matter. I really enjoyed how much she cherishes the interdisciplinary nature of DH. At the same time, the diversity of skills and professionalism is equally crucial for creating a DH product. She also emphasizes the significance of the desire to learn and I think this is the key attraction to her argument for me. I believe in our reality as we are all surrounded by unlimited information and opportunities the definition of professionalism for me becomes having the ethical capacity to ask questions and project the urgency of lifelong learning. In the DH community, one person can be an expert in their own professional field and a beginner in a tool or a field that can be taught by the other community member. And the beauty of the community is the eagerness to share each other’s expertise for creating something challenging and innovative but accessible to a wider audience.

I really enjoyed the blog essay Amanda Visconti included that describes the transparent border between service and scholarship. It opened up new thoughts and ideas to myself and I would encourage anyone, especially people like me who are stepping their first steps in DH to read this wonderful essay by Mark Sample.

It has been only a week since the fellowship has started and during the wonderful sessions with the amazing cohort of our library and guest speakers and all their provided materials have been expanding the definition of DH. What I have been enjoying the most is the role of humanism and interdisciplinarity in DH.

I am very excited and lucky to have this opportunity to keep pushing my ideas, opinions, abilities, stereotypes, boundaries, and definitions with our wonderful team.

Written by Ana Vashakmadze ’22, Student at the Sunderman Conservatory, Gettysburg College, part of the DSSF Summer ’21 wonderful Cohort.