This summer I am continuing to work on the Moravian Lives project. Within the project, I read and semantically tag memoirs for people’s names, places, events, and other important entities. Using this information, we hope to be able to answer interesting questions involving the Moravian community.
One of the interesting questions that we have encountered recently is whether every person and place is worthy of a unique identifier. Originally, we were only giving unique identifiers to people who we had memoirs for and places we deemed to be important to the Moravian world in some way. However, recently we decided to give all places and people mentioned unique identifiers. We came to this decision because we don’t have a good idea of whether these people and places are important yet. While they may not be mentioned a lot in the memoirs we have already read, there are still a ton of memoirs we have not gone through and these people and places may be critical in those.
This week, my research was interrupted and slowed by having my wisdom teeth removed this Tuesday. However, in spite of that, I was able to continue my work on the REED London project. My biggest accomplishment this week was my georectification of the Whitehall map of 1680. This map presented a challenge to me previously, because it shows only a very small portion of land (the Whitehall Palace in London), and more frustratingly, a small portion of land that no longer exists on modern maps. To align Whitehall buildings with modern buildings and streets would be entirely guesswork, and so I had settled to use the Whitehall 1680 map just as a visual aid. This was until I came up with the idea of georectifying the Whitehall map to another, larger map from the same era of London. I had already georectified several maps of London that show Whitehall Palace in some detail. I was able to georectify Whitehall Palace based on other maps that were already tied to modern topography. This gives a detailed view of every Whitehall Palace building, linked to their modern location.
This summer, I am continuing my Presidential Fellows research in the Digital Humanities through the REED London project. REED London is a long running project compiling primary sources involving different forms of theatre in Elizabethan and Stuart England. I’ve chosen to narrow my focus to the so-called Magnificent Marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Frederick V of the Rhine in 1613, and the history of place. The wedding of Elizabeth and Frederick was a massive cultural phenomenon surrounded by weeks of performance and festivities. Using the REED London texts and other primary sources, I’ve been attempting to map out the places involved in these performances.
So far this summer, I’ve focused primarily on ArcGIS software to manipulate historical maps to fit modern satellite maps in order to contextualize historical places with their location in modern London. This has been challenging, as London as a city has changed a lot in past centuries due to fires, bombings, industrialization, and urbanization. It’s difficult to find high quality maps of London that aren’t strangely stitched together, and so I’ve familiarized myself with Adobe Photoshop to crop and clean up maps to make them more usable (attached are the Ogilby-Morgan map of London as I found it online, and my edited and georectified version of the map). I’ve also begun reading letters from witnesses to the wedding festivities, such as prolific correspondent John Chamberlain.
In the digital humanities department at Bucknell University, we are making the most of our time during this pandemic by continuing to pursue our research endeavors remotely. This summer, I am working with Dr. Katherine Faull, Dr. Diane Jakacki and Justin Schaumberger on the Moravian Lives Project.
My particular focus in this project is using the CWRC-Writer program to markup emotion within memoirs from the Fulneck Moravian settlement in West Yorkshire, England. As shown in the following screenshot, the emotions tagged become pink so they can be easily picked out in the memoir.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with this project throughout the summer!
Spending the spring semester working on the TwitLit project was, for me, an engaging and hands-on first experience with the Digital Humanities (DH). As a research assistant, I worked with another student assistant, Meg Coyle, to document and record data on tweets in 2019 related to the writing community. Christian Howard-Sukhil, the head of the project and the DH Postdoctoral Fellow at the university, trained us to use Python scripts developed for scraping Twitter as well as Twarc tools developed through Documenting the Now (DocNow) in order to collect tweets (and accompanying metadata) that contained different writing-related hashtags. Using these scripts, we can record the number of tweets that contained a particular hashtag within a given time period, as well further information on each individual tweet, such as the timestamp or the number of likes and retweets.
From here, we are looking to expand the interpretation of this data into new avenues and to find ways to shed more light onto the sizable writing community on Twitter. For example, currently there are line graphs on the TwitLit website that display the growth of some of these hashtags, with analysis on what this data could mean. We have also speculated on ideas such as displaying viral tweets from the Twitter writing community on the website, in order to show what is drawing the most attention from inside and outside the community. One particularly exciting idea, which we unfortunately are unable to undertake without physically being at the university, is the geographic mapping of these tweets. It is possible to record the “geo-tag” of individual tweets, and through this we would be able to map where the writing community on Twitter comes from in the world, and further interpret this data and ask why tweets are concentrated in one place or another. Throughout the summer we plan to continue thinking of interesting ways to display the data we’ve collected and to keep the DH community at Bucknell updated through these blogs.