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School of Humanities

Digital Humanities

Research

"The Mississippi Community Cookbook Project"

Started in 2015, the Mississippi Community Cookbook Project (MCCP) works with Special Collections in Southern Miss’ University Libraries to acquire, scan, transcribe, and map the places of publication for the more than 250 Mississippi church and charity cookbooks published before 1970.  When completed, the project will be one of the most comprehensive digital collections of a state’s community cookbooks in the United States. To date, the project has digitized more than sixty cookbooks.  Supported with grants from the College of Arts and Science at Southern Miss and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom) as well as the generous contributions of volunteers, the MCCP has fully transcribe nearly ten of these cookbooks.  American Studies/History undergraduates have also contributed to the project by providing essays that offer context for the cookbooks.  The project is housed in the Digital Collection at Southern Miss and supported by a website at http://mscommunitycookbooks.usm.edu/ An updated version of the website is schedule to be launched in Spring 2020.

The Civil War & Reconstruction Governors of Mississippi

Project (CWRGM) http://cwrgm.org/: CWRGM is directed by Susannah J. Ural, Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi and grounded in a partnership of USM, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Digital Library. It is a digital history project that provides free online access to all of the state's governors' papers from just before the Civil War through the era of Reconstruction (nine administrations spanning 1859-1882). Mississippi was one of the most powerful states in the Union when it seceded and joined the Confederacy. Over the next sixteen years, the state played an active role in a war that brought revolutionary change through military campaigns, emancipation, and army occupation, and Mississippians of all backgrounds described these changes in their frequent letters to their governors, which make governors' collections incredibly important for understanding how Mississippians experienced this groundbreaking era. The challenge in the past has been that the original, paper collection is so massive that scholars, teachers, and the public often lacked the time to thoroughly mine it for information. That is why CWRGM is digitizing, transcribing, and providing historical context for the nearly 20,000 documents — letters, military telegrams, and official orders —  that came into the governors' office as the state navigated secession, joined the Confederacy, experienced destructive military invasions, witnessed the end of slavery, and faltered through the uneasy and violent peace that followed the war. By making these documents available free and online, CWRGM is revolutionizing how scholars, teachers, students, and the public understand, teach, and write about the Civil War and understand American democracy. 

The Mississippi Digital Courthouse Project

The Mississippi Digital Courthouse Project (MDCP) https://msdiglib.org/mcc: Created by University of Southern Mississippi historian Susannah J. Ural in 2014-2015, the MDCP hopes to digitize collections from the state's Circuit and Chancery Court records from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There are four main goals for this project:

to help communities preserve their history
to make community members more aware of their own past and how it can help them in county planning today
to give scholars and historians better access to local sources
to give a voice to populations who may not leave behind traditional sources (letters, diaries, memoirs, and newspapers) but whose stories can be found in court records.
 

The MDCP hopes to expand across south Mississippi and inspire similar cooperative projects between universities and their surrounding county courthouses throughout the state.

The Beauvoir Veteran Project

The Beauvoir Veteran Project (BVP) https://beauvoirveteranproject.org/: Directed by Susannah J. Ural, Ph.D., professor of history and co-director of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society, the Beauvoir Veteran Project, launched in 2014 and completed in 2018, offers a quantitative analysis of Mississippi’s Confederate home, which operated from 1903 until it closed its doors in 1957. The facility was a New South icon in the state, a success story that legislators celebrated as a symbol of Mississippi’s ability to establish and run a modern, efficient home to care for aging and impoverished Confederate veterans and their wives or widows. It was also a symbol of the Lost Cause due to the residents themselves, as well as the home’s previous owner, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Over a three-year period, researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi studied these surviving records of the Jefferson Davis Soldiers’ Home in an effort to understand the experiences of the 1,845 men and women who lived there from 1903 through 1957. The team created a random representative ten-percent sample of the residents and gathered additional information on those men and women from digitized census, military service, pension, and newspaper records. These sources offered insights into veterans’ and their families’ prewar and postwar wealth, slaveholding status, educational levels, literacy rates, property ownership, wartime injuries, infant and adult mortality rates, and early-twentieth-century financial stability. As a case study, the Beauvoir Veteran Project cannot speak for the experiences of Civil War veterans and their families across the nation or even the South. But it does raise significant questions about the field’s conclusions on Confederate veteran homes and where these may need revision. For a detailed historical analysis of Beauvoir see the article by Susannah J. Ural, “‘Every Comfort, Freedom and Liberty’: A Case Study of Mississippi’s Confederate Home,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 9 (March 2019), 55-83. Special thanks to the USM College of Arts & Sciences for their support of BVP through the Charles W. Moorman Alumni Professorship in the Humanities, which Ural held from 2015-2017 and which provided major funding for the project.

Dr. Kevin Greene/Center for Oral History

Dr. Kevin Greene/Center for Oral History is involved in several digital projects including "Prying Open the Door: The Desegregation and Resegregation of Hattiesburg High School," an oral history study of modern segregation in the 21st century South, the "Mississippi Oral History Project," which uses USM's rich oral history collection to hear from Mississippians involved in the decisive issues that shaped the state in the past and continue to shape it today. Greene is also directing a digital oral history project with the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History on the creation of the two recently constructed Mississippi history museums in Jackson titled “The Two Mississippi Museums.”  This project seeks to capture the voices and stories of individuals who have played an integral role in designing, constructing and maintaining these two state-of-the-art museums.  Dr. Greene also oversees the production of a weekly podcast called “Mississippi Moments,” which airs on Mississippi Public Radio and Broadcasting.  The podcast highlights the Center’s collection through Mississippi voices and unique storytelling on all aspects of life and culture in the state.  Greene is also co-directing "War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices" (in cooperation with the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society, the Mississippi National Guard, and the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum) which is conducting, transcribing, sharing, and preserving thousands of interviews across the region to capture the experiences of Mississippi National Guardsmen and women in America's modern wars and domestic disasters.

Product Magazine

Each spring semester graduate students in ENG 627 (Introduction to Publishing) design and publish Product Magazine, an online digital magazine. This course project involves every aspect of producing an online journal: students design and post a call for submission and publicize the magazine through social media efforts. They also select both literary and visual art for the issue and design the journal using web-based HTML software. This annual journal highlights the creative efforts of students at USM across numerous programs, both in terms of what’s published in each issue and in terms of how the students design and produce the journal. Product provides hands-on experience in Digital Humanities for students in the Center for Writers while also serving as an important recruitment tool for prospective graduate students as well.

Frederick Douglas Day Transcribe-a-thon

Joyce Inman coordinated this event in concert with the digital archives group and Colored Conventions Project, and it was open to everyone at the university and the community at large. Participants transcribed materials from the Freedmen’s Bureau Records at the Smithsonian.

MS Bicentennial Writing Day

Adam Clay, Joyce Inman, and a group of graduate instructors led a group of about fifty local high school students in a day-long writing project that moved them from brainstorming to publication in one day. Their essays were curated and hosted on the server space that the digital archives group purchased.

Digital Grave (nearly complete)

Leah Parker works with “The Grave,” a late Old English/early Middle English poem, which survives in the twelfth-century manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 343. This edition uses the Digital Mappa platform for linked an annotated data to pioneer digital “poly-glossing” of word forms with respect to linguistic transition, which both looks back toward Old English and looks forward toward Middle English. As a result, the edition permits students with no prior training in Old or Middle English or in medieval paleography to read the poem—directly from the manuscript image—simply by hovering over each word and comparing to the provided transcription and translation. I will be using the nearly complete edition in my grad course (ENG754) next week, and plan to use the completed edition in ENG406 History of the English Language next Spring as part of student work on the transitional period between Old and Middle English.

Multispectral Imaging of the Exeter Book

Leah Parker currently in the long process of negotiating permissions from Exeter Cathedral in the UK to conduct multispectral imaging of the Exeter Book, the largest surviving collection of Old English poetry. This late-tenth-century manuscript is substantially stained and damaged, and I aim to use multispectral imaging to both reveal missing/obscured text, support conservation efforts, and unveil new layers of interpretive meaning in the material object of the Exeter Book. To put it simply: I hope to use cutting-edge imaging technology to reveal lines of poetry that have not been legible for centuries. My previous work in multispectral imaging prepares me for this task almost uniquely among all scholars of Old English literature (see, for example, my contributions to data analysis and presentation for the Library of Stains Project).

Gravestone Project

Emily Stanback co-founded and co-curate The Gravestone Project (http://gravestoneproject.com/) with Polly Atkin, a scholar and poet based in the United Kingdom. Since its inception, she has published tens of thousands of images of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century gravestones and cemeteries in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe--including several images of the gravesites of literary authors. The group has also published one issue of Grave Notes, a scholarly journal, and a second issue is imminently forthcoming. Future goals include continuing to collect images of cemeteries and gravestones in the UK and US that date to 1900 or earlier, as well as images of British colonial cemeteries and gravestones; gathering a searchable visual and text archive of epitaphs from before 1900; gathering a visual archive of gravestone iconography and engraving from before 1900. Developing a searchable visual and text archive, as well as transcribing gravestones, will require significant investments in terms of time and development.

Keats Letter Project

Emily Stanback is also co-founder and co-editor of the Keats Letter Project (https://keatslettersproject.com/). The KLP publishes each extant letter written by Romantic-era poet John Keats on the 200th anniversary of its writing. Most letters are accompanied by a creative or critical response to that letter that aims to "shed new light" on the letter in question. As we explain on the site, "The commentaries bring to bear on each letter one or more of many available, revealing approaches and methodologies, including applying knowledge of Keats’s relations with specific correspondents; sensitivity to the letters’ rhetorical dynamics; awareness of genre and literary conventions, from business and family letters to journal letters and verse epistles, to literary, dramatic, and art criticism; recognition of Keats’s epistolary tendencies, including speculation, “proing and conning,” allusion, and obsessive wordplay; and information about the material bases of letter writing, including an emerging postal system, in the early nineteenth century." 

  

Teaching in the Digital Humanities

Pedagogue Podcast

The purpose of Pedagogue is to promote diverse voices at various institutions and help foster community and collaboration among teachers of writing. Each episode is a conversation with a teacher (or multiple teachers) about their experiences teaching writing, their work, inspirations, assignments, assessments, successes, and challenges. Pedagogue is a podcast about teachers talking writing, dedicated to building a supportive community, committed to facilitating conversations that move across institutions and positions, and designed to help celebrate the labor teachers do inside and outside the classroom. 

So far, the site has 5,000+ views, 9 full episodes, and 5 bonus episodes. It’s really exceeded my expectations so far. I’m thankful for how many people are circulating the podcast. I’ve been super encouraged. 

ENG 102 Professional Development

Jennifer Brannock and Joyce Inman have collaborated to work with graduate instructors in English to provide insight on how they can use the physical and digital archives in their classes. This work has led to exciting undergraduate research projects, and the graduate instructors who have chosen to go in this direction have been extremely excited about the results.

Save Our Stories

Craig Carey, Jennifer Brannock, and Joyce Inman (and the Digital Research group) created a collaboration that allowed graduate and undergraduate students to write essays based on artifacts they discovered in the archives and each month one of the student’s submissions was selected and featured on the special collections website.

English 365: Digital Literacies

Shane Wood has developed this class to focus on how technology helps mobilize communities and voices. We will look at how technology has become a source for social justice movements and change. I also incorporate digital humanities in English 333: Technical Writing. One assignment in that class is to create professional/personal websites. So students work with different platforms (e.g. Weebly, Wix) and they also use different digital tools for design (e.g. Canva) as well as screencasting tools (e.g. Jing, Screencast-o-matic). I take a multimodal pedagogical approach to teaching, in some ways. I also teach English 333 online – and we are currently doing a pilot study where I have developed content for seven online sections of English 333 and am mentoring four graduate students who serve as teaching assistants in those online sections. This complements the program and university’s emphasis toward innovation and online/distance learning. I would be happy to talk more about what that looks like. 

ENG 314/Detective Fiction

Alexandra Valint assigns a final project for students in this course to make their own podcast episode (either on their own or in groups) offering analysis of a topic relevant to the texts on our reading list; in making the podcast, they have the option of pretending to be a character (it can be Sherlock Holmes's podcast, for example). I gave the students a crash-course on Audacity, a free audio editing-software, so they could be comfortable with recording their voice, editing that voice, and integrating music tracks. While we are reading mostly fiction in the course, we spent a week listening to and analyzing real podcasts, especially true crime podcasts like Serial. The podcast is a timely and popular genre, and much current investigative work is happening in the medium. This final project then, asks the students to practice their close reading interpretative skills as well as their software and production skills.

HIS 306: History in the Digital Age

Spring 2020 - MoWe 1:00PM - 2:15PM

LAB 102

The digital humanities, and digital history in particular, has revolutionized the way we study and learn about history. Data mining, digitization, and geographic information systems have changed how we gather and analyze data, Wikipedia, blogs, open-access journals, and social media are transforming traditional publishing. This course engages with these cutting-edge developments by introducing students to digital history to help them understand how technology has transformed the process of human knowledge. Topics include databases and searching, crowdsourcing and Wikipedia, blogging and podcasting, data mining and textual analysis, and presenting audio and visual forms of history.

HIS 463: The U.S. Civil War Era

Spring 2020 - MoWe 2:30PM - 3:45PM

LAB 101 

The U.S. Civil War Era is one of the most popular periods of study in American history among the public and scholars alike.  Despite this interest, stubborn disagreements remain regarding its causes and consequences. This course looks at the divisions that led to the conflict, the war itself, and the possibilities and failures of Reconstruction. Lectures and readings will focus on the defining themes of the era, while examining the impact of the war on representative individuals or communities in the Union and the Confederacy and how they, in turn, influenced the conflict around them.  In addition, the class will discuss how scholars have interpreted the war in the past and today.  Successful students will emerge with a better understanding of the broad issues that shaped the period and they will be conversant — in speech and in writing — on this definitive American era. Class includes a trip/tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park. Students will also master valuable digital history skills including: how to digitize original records and how to write metadata for these and transcribe and annotate them; how to discuss history with public audiences through blogs, podcasts, and digital exhibits; how to take a focused historical question and create an online digital project.

  

 

Publications in the Digital Humanities

Wood, Shane A. (2019). “Multimodal Pedagogy & Multimodal Assessment: Towards a Reconceptualization of Traditional Frameworks.” Bridging the Gap: Multimodality from Theory to Practice, Ed. J.C. Lee and S. Khadka. Utah State University Press.

Wood, Shane A. (2018). “Framing Wearing: Genre, Embodiment, & Exploring Wearable Technology in the Composition Classroom.” Computers and Composition, Special Issue:  Wearable Technology, Ubiquitous Computing, & Immersive Experience: Implications  for Writing Studies, vol. 50, 66-77.

Wood, Shane A. (2018). “Multimodal Feedback: A ‘Real’ Opportunity for Negotiation in Teacher Response.” Beyond the Frontier: Innovations in First Year Composition II, Ed.  J. Dahlman and T. Winner: 253-267. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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School of Humanities

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Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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