Urmila Venkatesh, Kiara Vigil, Ricardo Punzalan, Colleen Woods
Adviser: Tiya Miles, American Culture
Team Project Site
Our interdisciplinary project aims at answering questions about the proliferation of digital archive collections and the potential impact this has on both research and teaching. In particular, we are interested in the different research experiences that scholars have when they use a digital archive as opposed to (or in conjunction with) a physical archival site. Should a digital archive attempt to mimic the research experience of a physical archive? And if so, what is gained or lost by the process of digitizing what scholars typically describe as a tactile experience? If the archive does change, and does not mimic how collections are traditionally arranged, in what ways does a virtual experience force researchers and teachers to re-conceptualize their practices?
For instance, the American Social History Project, under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, recently launched a new initiative entitled: “Picturing United States History: An Online Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence” under the aegis that “visual materials are vital to understanding the American past.” Our project will analyze the efficacy of this approach, as well as explore other examples of virtual collections. In another virtual space, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities freely distributes materials and critical responses from The Walt Whitman Archive, and offers a literary example of the ways that knowledge has gone digital. Just as these virtual spaces represent ample amounts of collaboration, our project relies on diverse disciplinary methodologies through the questions we ask and the expectations we bring to research and teaching.
Proposal: Digitizing Knowledge [.pdf]