ACLS Digital Innovation Fellows

The ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship program supports digitally based research projects in all disciplines of the humanities and humanities-related social sciences. It is hoped that projects of successful applicants will help advance digital humanistic scholarship by broadening understanding of its nature and exemplifying the robust infrastructure necessary for creating further such works.

2014-2015 marked the tenth and final year of the ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship Program, generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Stephen Berry
Stephen Berry  |  Abstract
"CSI Dixie" digitizes, transcribes, indexes and makes available and searchable via the web the extant coroners' reports for four South Carolina counties (Anderson, Edgefield, Kershaw, and Spartanburg) for the years 1840-1880. This project is intended as the beginning of a much larger effort to create an online repository of records that will help historians study the medical and health histories of the American enslaved population. Access to previously unavailable health data provides a variety of scholars - sociologists, psychologists, criminologists, historians of race, children, poverty, gender, the body, and the family - a new lens for investigating a critical and turbulent period in the American South.

Associate Professor, History, University of Georgia  -  CSI Dixie: Race, the Body Politic, and the View from the South's County Coroners' Offices, 1840-1880

Eric E. Poehler
Eric E. Poehler  |  Abstract
The Pompeii Bibliographic and Mapping Resource (PBMR) interweaves a bibliographic database, online GIS, and user interface to create a novel research environment for ancient Pompeii, gathering the diaspora of source material for the first time in a single, central location. Additionally, the PBMR allows users to navigate a map to find bibliographic data and to visualize that bibliographic data in the same map. Most importantly, the PBMR offers the unique ability to vacillate between spatial and bibliographic search tools, querying the data about both its thematic and spatial relationships. When complete the PBMR can serve as a model and documented example of how to leverage the underlying and implicit structure in landscapes for powerful analytical effect.

Assistant Professor, Classics, University of Massachusetts Amherst  -  The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Resource

Alison Booth
Alison Booth  |  Abstract
By applying an XML markup schema (BESS), this project identifies elements of biography in order to extend Collective Biographies of Women, an open-access digital project at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at UVA. The analysis of versions of women's lives of different types, from assassin and adventuress to saint and scientist, in varieties of printed collections (British and American) reveals a morphology of a popular genre and develops a practice and theory of prosopography ("personae-writing") in modern contexts. The project will also apply narrative theory to nonfiction and experiments with large-scale, team interpretation of narrative, between big data and the up-close techniques of textual editing. As this database of collections of women's biographies, visualizations, and an interface for access to a documentary social networks of persons is perfected, the project will engender and promote new theories of nonfiction, prosopography, and the digital humanities.

Professor, English, University of Virginia  -  The Practice and Theory of Digital Prosopography: Collective Biographies of Women and the Biographical Elements and Structure Schema

Diana Taylor
Diana Taylor  |  Abstract
What options for political and economic justice do people have when the electoral process has been violated or corrupted, the media is sequestered in the hands of power-brokers, and official institutions cannot adjudicate in a way that is seen as transparent and legitimate? "The Politics of Passion," published digitally with a host of bi-lingual tools for students and scholars, explores the resurgence and even centrality of the body in politics by exploring the work of Mexican artist and political activist Jesusa Rodríguez. This rich, multimedia book, containing archival materials, recorded performances, and critical scholarship, examines the efficacy and limitations of performance and politics, and performance as politics.

Professor, Performance Studies and Spanish and Potuguese Languages and Literatures, New York University  -  The Politics of Passion: A Digital, Bi-lingual Scholarly Book Focusing on the Art and Activism of Jesusa Rodríguez

Gregory Downs
Gregory Downs  |  Abstract
“Mapping Occupation: The Union Army and the Meaning of Reconstruction” will simultaneously convey new data about the presence, size, and persistence of Army outposts in the years after Appomattox, and use that data to develop interpretations about the crucial role of force in shaping emancipation, the development of new national rights, the newfound power of the federal government, and the insurgency launched by ex-Confederates against federal power. The project will utilize newly organized data about Army outposts to develop an interactive website that will allow scholars to map federal power and emancipation in the post-war moment.

Associate Professor, History, City University of New York, City College  -  Mapping Occupation: The Union Army and the Meaning of Reconstruction

Ted Underwood
Ted Underwood  |  Abstract
Information about genre makes large digital collections much more useful, but is largely missing in existing metadata. “Understanding Genre” makes it possible to recognize genre algorithmically, and shows that a digital approach has several important advantages: it allows classification schemes to be modified at will, and allows membership in a genre to be a matter of degree rather than a hard boundary. This project will develop software that can classify HathiTrust collections by genre, drawing on existing machine learning research while also modifying it to fit this specific domain (e.g., recognizing that genre classifications need to change continuously across the timeline). The resulting software, which will be available for other scholars, will help develop a book on nineteenth century literary history.

Associate Professor, English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  -  Understanding Genre in a Collection of a Million Volumes

William A. Kretzschmar
William A. Kretzschmar  |  Abstract
This project develops a multidimensional computer simulation that can model and display the process of emergence and adaptation of regional language differences. Existing survey data from the Linguistic Atlas Project (LAP) offers copious information about actual regional differences in speech, with which one can validate the results of the computer simulation as a representation of the process that created such regional differences. This simulation can be modified to include various social characteristics, making it possible to gauge the contributions of social factors like gender, race, education, and urban/rural residence to the patterns in the LAP data and in the simulation.

Professor, English, University of Georgia  -  Computer Simulation of Speech and Culture as a Complex System