Abstracts, American University of Paris, March 2017



David Joseph Wrisley
djwrisley.com @DJWrisley
American University of Paris
16-17 March 2017


Lecture: “Digital Project-Based Scholarship and Pedagogy in the Liberal Arts Institution”
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 1530-1700, Combes 102    Watch the lecture here.

My talk focuses on the genre of the digital project and its potential for scholarly and pedagogical reflection in the liberal arts institution.  From a general discussion of some exemplary projects carried out in small colleges by teams of faculty, students, librarians and technologists, in what might be called the humanities “laboratory” (Lane), I will chart how digital methods can evolve from course-embedded experiments to larger research projects.  I hope to show that such projects, in both process and product, embody the values of a liberal arts education in the 21st century: a well-rounded education, social and ethical awareness and creative, multidisciplinary synthesis.  I will discuss in detail two course-embedded digital projects that I carried out with my students in Beirut: Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut and Mapping Beirut Print Culture.  As we will see, projects, like the scholars and institutions that embark upon them, grow in stages of increasing digital scholarly complexity (ILiADS).  Finally, I will point to some attempts to build “communities of practice” among liberal arts colleges, and the establishment of lab-like commons and other institutional structures that serve as the loci for such project-based local knowledge production.


Hands-on session: “Toolkit or Toychest?: the Digital in the Classroom”
Friday, March 17, 2017, 11h00 – 14h00, Combes 104

This hands on session will put into practice some of the ideas laid forth in Thursday’s lecture.  It will look at some simple, off-the-shelf tools for digital tasks, and move on to more complex (or even combined) tasks that are useful for collecting, analyzing and disseminating research data. The session aims to make participants aware of some of the emergent categories of tools for research & pedagogy, as well as to discuss the degrees of openness that they embody.  The session argues for the productive tension between the functional (the tool) and the ludic (the toy), suggesting that the digital does not simplify or merely quantify, but rather opens the door to critical play and reflection with tools.  Participants will try out basic functionality of some of the following environments and will discuss together how they might be integrated into critical classroom praxis: Voyant, TypeWright, FromThePage, Prism, Hypothes.is, Google Fusion Tables, TopoText, Odyssey.js, Palladio, NodeGoat, Sketchup, JSTOR analyze, ZoteroWordPress.org.  

Helpful, but not necessary, preparations for the workshop: Make accounts at TypeWrightHypothes.is, Google (if you have a gmail it is enough), Carto.  Download Sketchup and either Zotero standalone (and its Chrome plugin).




Additional Reading:

Bilansky “TypeWright: An Experiment in Participatory Curation
Doueihi, Pour un humanisme numérique
Dumouchel, “
Les Humanités Numériques: une nouvelle discipline universitaire?
dwhly, “Annotation is Now a Web Standard
El Khatib et al., “TopoText: Interactive Digital Mapping of Literary Text
Ferrari Nieto, Enrique. Resistencias con lo Digital
Gefen et al., “Qu’est-ce que les humanités numériques?
Jannidis et al., Digital Humanities: 
Eine Einführung
Lane, The Big Humanities
Liu, DH ToyChest
Mounier, ed. Read/Write Book 2: Une introduction aux humanités numériques
Nowviskie, “How to Play with Maps”
Numerico et al, L’umanista digitale (Eng tr. The Digital Humanist: A Critical Inquiry)
Burdick et al, Digital_Humanities
Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers, and Educators
Rockwell and Sinclair, Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities
Sketchfab, “Around the World in 80 Models
Svensson, Big Digital Humanities
Unsworth, “Scholarly Primitives

Mapping for the Digital Humanities DHIB 2017

Mapping for the Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities Institute – Beirut in March 2017 (5 hours).


This is a five-hour course that introduces basic elements of modeling spatial data for the humanities, data creation with gazetteers and making simple interactive maps with a symbology appropriate to the data.


Participants who complete this workshop will

    • understand the basics of spatial data (formats, types, accuracy).
      gain a basic appreciation for the concept of data modeling
    • learn where they can get spatial data appropriate for humanities inquiry, or how they can create it themselves.
    • gain a basic appreciation of the critical, interpretative side of making a map.
    • experiment with extracting locations from text.
    • appreciate different kinds of spatial data curation (manual, semi-automatic and automatic).
    • use geolocation services on their smartphones to generate some basic data.
    • learn to make a basic interactive map using Carto (and within a web hosting, if skill level permits).


(1) What are spatial data, that is, the data we need to make basic maps?  In what formats, do such data come?

(2) Where can we obtain spatial data? How can we create spatial data?  What is a gazetteer?  What is a spatial repository?

(3) Examples of digital maps projects: Edmonton Pipelines, Mapping Dante, Year of the Riot, Harlem 1935,  London Chatty Map, Slave Revolt in Jamaica, Going to the Show, Mapping the Lake District: A Literary GIS, Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut, Digital Karnak, NYT’s pick, Wandering Rocks, NoSweatShakespeare map, (LOTRLife of Maya Angelou, Novel City Maps), Photogrammar, Literary Geographies of Christine de Pizan, Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, Mapping the Mahjar

(4) Two hands-on examples:

a. Making a map from a text in three “flavors”:  (1) manually (2) semi-automatically using TopoText and (3) automatically using a basic python script (adapted from here).

b. Making a map using data captured with smartphone apps.

(5) How can we stylize those maps and share them with others?


See the other spatial humanities workshops and courses I have given. And this bibliography from 2015.

Exploring the Digital Humanities, American University in Cairo


cairo visa 2011 trip 2015


“Exploring the Digital Humanities” event

Exploring Space-Time Representation in the Digital Humanities Workshop
David Joseph Wrisley (AUB) @DJWrisley

American University in Cairo
30 September 2015

Download the event flyer here.

The workshop/presentation focuses on varieties of locative research and pedagogy.  It will introduce participants to some aspects of a sub-field in the digital humanities, known by many different names: geohumanities, spatial humanities, locative media-enabled/location-based research, thick/deep mapping.  It will have a presentation component and a hands-on component.

Topics that will be discussed in the overview of projects and hands-on session will include: the exploration of differential geographies, layered map visualizations, close and distant exploration of spatial data, community mapping, mapping as pedagogy and argument, the rhetoric(s) of visualization and the “contingency of looking” at data.

No previous knowledge is assumed.  The hands-on will go at the pace of the participants.  Participants should have a laptop, not a tablet.


To prepare:

Complete this survey.
Create an academy account at CartoDB (for students, faculty, researchers)
Check out the CartoDB map academy (time permitting)

Skills learned in hands-on:

  • -basic web mapping
    -JSON and CSV formats
    -inserting a link in html
    -simple SQL query to a geospatial database
    -bringing in custom map tiles
    -get geospatial data
    -using Google spreadsheet
    -calling data from one place to be used in another



Sample Projects (30 mins):

Basic questions: what is the data involved? how was it acquired? how is it visualized here? what are the tensions between content and tool?

Hypercities Egypt – an exploration of the spatial aspect of Cairene Twitter from 30 Jan-8 Mar 2011.

Visualizing Medieval Places – mapping the places mentioned in 4 centuries of medieval French, 250+ texts at present.  Specific finding.

Literary Geography of Christine de Pizan – mapping the places mentioned in a medieval woman author’s oeuvre (late 14th/early 15th c)

The Places of Rai’tu Ramallah – a student project on place and memory in the Palestinian novel by Mourid Barghouti @Randa_DH

Mapping Gothic France – exploring religious architecture and the seismic thesis.

Mapping Language Contact in Beirut – curation of written language data within the metropolitan area of Beirut, carried out by faculty, undergraduate and graduate students.

Digital Karnak Timemap and Google Earth – a spatio-temporal narrative and virtual reality exploration of the Karnak complex near Luxor.  KML file here.

Women in computing (timeline.js) – a time-focused media-rich timeline maker.  Tips

Cairo soundscape – a mashup of a soundscape map built on the fly 28-29 September.  (an example of Brussels)

Beirut publishes… – a planned historical map of Beirut publishing and book selling (Spring 2016)

Towards a Peer Review in the GeoHumanities – a community consultation to articulate concerns about what makes a good spatial project.

If you would like to find out more, I recommend the list maintained of Humanities GIS projects maintained by the GeoHumanities SIG of the Association of Digital Humanities Organizations.


COME JOIN US!    Digital Humanities Institute – Beirut and CFP


Questions and Discussion (10 minutes)

Possible Hands-On Exercises (80 minutes)

1  Some JSON data self collected this September.  Time as choropleth, time as torque.  (CartoDB, Json and CSV)

Save this file to your laptop (it is a json file located in my dropbox). Imagine the Dropbox visualization of the data.  Open CartoDB.  From dashboard, select “your datasets.”  Drag and drop the file to the box. Click “connect dataset.”  Look at the data view.  Look at the map view.  From the wizard (in map view) explore ways of visualizing facets of the data.  Save this file and notice the difference in format (CSV). Try some different views.  What views show meaningful aspects of the data? Notice that torque does not work.  Why do you think this is?

2  Animating Mapping Gothic France data (data scraped using Kimono as API)  (CartoDB, CSV and html)

Save this file (CSV).  Examine it in data view and map view.  Explore what kinds of meaningful visualizations you can make.  What aspect of the data is show in each of them? What can we say about data being incomplete?  Try to make a spatial animation according to date built and another according to date destroyed.  

In map view, select info window. Select click and choose the metadata you would like to show up in the info box.  Go back to map view and check your work.  In info window mode click on the </> for “change html”.  Insert the following line of html into the very end of the code, just before the last </div>:

<a href=”{{url}}” target=”_blank”>View original page</a>

Go back to map view to see what has happened.  Change the string “view original page” to your own words.  Check the map view again.

3  Filtering large data set to get at aspects of data (language contact data)  (CartoDB and SQL)

Save this file.  Examine it to see what it contains and how its features might be visualized.  In map view, using the wizard try to use color to indicate certain features.  Can you change the random colors proposed?

From map view, click on the SQL tab.  After SELECT * FROM mlcb, insert this query

WHERE general_context = ‘Advertising’

And click on apply query, go back to map view and check what happened.  Now try

WHERE scripts_used =’Arabic script’ AND languages_used_=’Arabic’

Did all examples of advertisements and Arabic script and writing show up on the map? If not, why not?

4  Notice that the tab “data library” in map view.  This is a library of open datasets you can call up and layer with any data you have.

5  Creating a digital story with a map (Odyssey with Markdown)

Go to Odyssey.  Choose a style of story.  In the sandbox, change the name and creator. Notice what happens as you customize.  Try changing the mapbase to http://mapwarper.net/maps/tile/10845/{z}/{x}/{y}.png

Markdown is a simple encoding schema that allows basic instructions about a text to be rendered (even easier than html).

Change the center to 33.898962, 35.471529 and then the L.marker to the the nearby coordinate of your choice. To insert a picture use this

![name of pic](http://www.webURL.com)

Make sure you use the URL of the picture itself, not of a page on which it is found.

You should also be able to insert a json file from CartoDB. For example, go back to either our MappingGothic or MLCB file in CartoDB.  In map view and the wizard, create a simple view. In the upper right hand corner click on “visualize” (and again on “create a map”) and then again on “publish”.  Copy the right most js link.   This can be inserted using the following lines:

cartodb_filter: “column=’VALUE'”
vizjson: “http://{user}.cartodb.com/api/v2/viz/{your-viz-key-here}/viz.json”

The hashtag # creates a section division.  What follows the hashtage will be the title of the slide, the text inset after the coordinates is the page text.  Try inserting another slide, new coordinates (get them from Google Maps) and a new pictureWhen finished, the story can be downloaded as an html file and then viewed in the browser C: or saved in public_html in your server space and viewed live.

6  Creating a timeline.js (Knightlab)


To read more:

I compiled a reading list after the Spatial Humanities workshop at the Digital Humanities Institute – Beirut 2015.

Some studies I referred to in the workshop:

Burdick, Anne, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, Jeffrey Schnapp.  Digital_Humanities (Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2014). Open access download here.

Guldi, Jo. “What is the Spatial Turn?”  Spatial Humanities: A Project of the Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship (U of Virginia). Web.

Kretzschmar, William. “GIS for Language and Literary Study,” Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Study (New York: MLA). Web.

Presner, Todd, David Shepard, Yoh KawanoHyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP, 2014). Print.

Travis, Charles BAbstract Machine: Humanities GIS (Redlands, CA: ESRI, 2015). Print.

Wrisley, David Joseph.  “The Spatial Humanities: an Agenda for Pre-Modern Research,” Porphyra 22 (Dec 2014): 96-107.  Web.