Class of 2018
Platforms and Tools used: Gephi, Scalar
One of the core questions within the Digital Humanities analysis of social media is how to extract social attitudes from the target media without close reading. However, in order to answer this question, it seems we need to answer two others: what is a social attitude and how is it instantiated in social media? Answers to these two questions may inform researchers about the development and characteristics of public moods (long term vs. short term, high amplitude vs. low amplitude) as well as their distribution and interaction throughout different social medias (academic social medias vs. more popular social medias).
Answers to these questions would, in turn, increase the accuracy of Digital Humanities analyses of public attitudes by allowing for a principled way to create more precise research questions as well as extract and apply the implications of their answers. Plausibly, ontological analysis also provides complimentary utility to linguistic analysis by giving us the basis to discover information about idiosyncratic use of interesting terms within populations (for example, how different is usage of the same academic terms in academic circles vs. the news that reports them) and their variations on possible sentiment spectrums (for example, high affect may have a different implication on twitter or Facebook vs. in business correspondence).
Platforms and Tools used: GitHub, HTML 5 UP, Voyant (MicroSearch, TermsBerry, Trends)
Authorial identity in the written discourse is defined by textual features of the writings as well as personal beliefs and perceptions of the writer about social values. The purpose of this research is to delineate the authorial identity of Vietnamese-American writer Ocean Vuong through research of his life history and textual analysis of his poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds.
Traditional close reading of the poetry collection was supplemented by distant reading of diction trend, word frequency, and data visualization using Voyant, an online text analysis website. Final findings along with analysis discussion of the results were presented in the digital format of an online website.
Making of Ethnic Nationalism – Elene Jalagonia ’20
Platforms and Tools used: ArcGIS, Voyant (SteamGraph)
The question of nationalism has been overlooked in political science and philosophy as a relic from the past and the characteristic of the old nation-states. Nationalism began attracting scholars’ attention in the late nineties when the nationalist conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Post-soviet states and Rwanda resulted in the massive loss of lives and displacement of thousands of people. The question remains relevant even today as we observe the unexpected surge of populism and nationalist tendencies across the globe, which promote seclusion and othering of the distinct ethnic groups and nations, simultaneously, hampering international economic, cultural and political interconnectedness.
This project sheds light on the nature and formation of an ethnic nationalism in post-colonial and post-communist spaces based on a case study from Abkhazia, a breakaway region in Georgia. It aims to trace the development of the nationalist sentiments among the ordinary Abkhaz people and examine the ideological discourse led by the external colonizing power, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.
Therefore, the project employs digital tools to answer two basic questions: how the nationalist sentiments developed in the Abkhaz public discourse? and is there any evidence for the existence of the colonizer’s discursive ethnic politics which might have contributed to the emergence of a new nationalism in the colonized state?
Platforms and Tools used: ArcGIS, Esri Story Maps
New York City has a subway problem. The famed mass transit system that has received much literature and love from many New Yorkers over its 100 plus year history is now the recipient of scrutiny from the city’s residents and newspapers. A New York Times investigation found that the New York subway system has the worst on time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world, at 65%. Yet subway ridership is at its highest since the 1940’s, as more people than ever rely on their services to get from place to place. As the city plans to fix and repair what is causing these issues, the historical context for the subways is as important as ever to understand.
Why, for example, are there parts of the city that are overrepresented by train lines versus others that have very few? Because this is American history, is there a connection between race and socioeconomic class with the location of subway lines? Within the history of mass transit and urban planning in New York, public policy emerges that has shaped why the subways are the way they are today, especially policy of the famous master builder of New York, Robert Moses. I propose mapping both the building of the subways and Moses’s highways, bridges, and parks alongside city demographics at their respective times to investigate how race and class influenced the city’s decisions.
Uncovering the Political History of the New York City Subways – Lafayette College News video, October 30, 2018:
Ben Gordon ’19 talks about his digital humanities research on the development of New York City’s subway system, particularly how subway locations were determined and why the city stopped investing in them.
Racial Perceptions of Anime in the United States – Uchechi Anomnachi ’19
Platforms and Tools used: Rap Stats by Rap Genius,Timeline JS, Tumblr, Voyant (Cirrus)
I uncovered two distinct histories of the diffusion of anime into the United States: one for Black Americans, and another for white Americans. The central question I sought to answer is: how do these different traditions of consuming anime inform how these populations understand and regard anime? To answer this I studied the unique cultural productions of these groups with regard to anime, hoping to uncover larger trends that relate back to the established historical context of their consumption. In establishing such a historical context I connect white anime consumption in America back to science fiction fandom in the 1960s and 1970s and find that being born from that tradition, many of their cultural productions were the same.
Fan-zines, conventions and club bulletins became central to how white fans engaged with anime similar to their role amongst science fiction fans. I also trace the feminized ‘nerd’ stigma that was attached to both of these groups in the public consciousness as a result. For my analysis of white cultural productions surrounding anime, I chose to focus primarily on fan-zines and bulletins as they provided a rich body of texts and connected directly back to their science fiction predecessors. I trace a different history for Black anime consumption relating back to the eminence of Hong Kong action cinema, Samurai films, and other East Asian media in the Black community.
I found that hip hop became a major site where Black people engaged with these styles, differentiating their consumption from that of white fans in a few major ways. I analyze hip hop lyrics to construct my argument about these distinct ways anime consumption manifests in the Black community. What was striking was how these different traditions of consumption of Anime are so intimately connected to discourses of masculinity and femininity, isolation and community.
Racial Perceptions of Anime – Lafayette College News video, February 24, 2019:
Uche Anomnachi ’19 talks about his research, sponsored by the Lafayette Libraries’ Digital Humanities Summer Scholars program, on the differences in how black and white Americans have responded to the Japanese artistic medium of anime.
Travel Writings of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages – Angela Shi ’21
Platforms and Tools used: AntConc, MALLET, RAW Graphs, Voyant, WordPress
Video Introduction produced by Angela Shi
My digital humanities project focuses on how the Muslims were depicted in the travel writings of European non-Muslim travelers to Jerusalem in the Middle Ages. Because of the significance of Jerusalem to Latin Christianity and the fact that it was dominated by Islamic authority from the 700s to the 1500s, European travel writings of Jerusalem could serve as a lens through which we examine the religious and cultural interactions between followers of medieval Christianity and Islam, the two most “antagonistic” Abrahamic religions throughout history. Also, seeing how travel writings have connected the Crusades to Jerusalem and also how, on the other hand, they indicate an increasingly self-reflective perspective of the writers could shed light on the religious and intellectual lives of the medieval Latin Christians that gave rise to the humanist movement of Renaissance and further modernization of Europe.
Volatica – Alex Murrell ’19
Platforms and Tools used: MALLET (jsLDA), Omeka
Volatica is an ongoing project working to compare the artwork surrounding the witch trials with major texts and treatises from the era. As of June 2018, the project utilizes the Malleus Maleficarum and work from Albrecht Dürer, Hans Baldung, Johann Otman, Erhard Schoen, and Francisco Goya to gain insight into the works themselves, the attitudes of the public, and the political climate surrounding the witch trials.
Beginning in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, central Europe found itself in a state of growing hysteria as the tenets and values of the Catholic Church were called into question by early reformers like Jan Hus, a Czech theologian, and Girolamo Savonarola, an Italian Dominican friar. Several members of the Catholic Church, including Pope Innocent VIII, felt one reason for the growing undercurrent of heresy in the masses was caused by willing and unwilling collusion with the Devil and his subordinates.
An immediate response to this incursion of heretics was Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger’s treatise Malleus Maleficarum: The Hammer of Witches. The full Latin title is Malleus Maleficarum, Maleficas, & earum hæresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens.
The Hammer of Witches made an incredible impact on the literate and powerful, but the literacy rate in Europe was so low at the beginning of the 15th century, and in some southern and eastern areas until the mid-19th century, that the general population would not have had enough independent exposure to the text to cause hysteria. So the question becomes: what caused the general population, beginning in Germany, to become so frantic about witchcraft and sorcery in their communities?
Class of 2017
Fleeing home as result of the horrific results of the civil war, many Somalis ended up in refugee camps or were resettled in other countries as refugees. The United States is one of the countries that offered third country resettlement to Somali refugees. After their initial placement, Somali refugees in the United States tend to live or move to places like Maine and Minnesota as secondary migrants. This project explores the leading causes why Somali refugee secondary migrants move. By looking in to the personal stories of selected Somali refugees, this project shows recurring reasons that lead to Somali refugee secondary migration.
In 1492, the Spanish Inquisition officially started marking the beginning of the expulsion of Jews from Iberia. As a result, Spanish Jews were forced to either convert to Christianity, flee their homes, or face persecution. This project tracks the migration of Spanish Jews from Iberia to the Ottoman Empire, the most common destination for Jewish refugees. The central substance of this investigation is a mapping that not only illustrates the Sephardic migration, but also tells the story of tolerance. Through displaying primary source accounts that describe the events or circumstances of a specific location and date, this map not only investigates the difference between Judeo-Christian and Judeo-Islamic tradition that materializes, but also explains why this difference existed.
Love and dating reality television hardly provides an accurate or diverse slice of its represented population. The average American reality show features a cast far whiter, more upper-class, more able-bodied, and more attractive than a truly random populous sample would produce. Disability, underrepresented on all forms of television, is depicted in a similarly disappointing fashion on reality love television. Those with disabilities are underrepresented, misrepresented, and exploited on these television programs which, in turn, perpetuate stereotypes about disabled aromanticism and asexuality. This project explores the importance of representation and the power of media while tackling troubling myths about disability.
We are living in an advertising world. Advertisements are on magazines we read through, smartphones we scroll through, and billboards we pass by. It is how companies and products connect with customers and generate revenue. Therefore, how women are portrayed in advertisements is crucial in how femininity is constructed and defined. This project looks at post-World War II and today and how portrayal of white working women has changed over the last 70 years.
Stratification (estratificación socioeconómica) is a public policy developed in Colombia that classifies residential areas into strata through physical appearance. The purpose of this policy is to subsidize the cost of domiciliary public utilities for the low-income population (strata 1, 2, 3) using the contributions of the high-income population (strata 5, 6). This article examines stratification and many of its unintended consequences in Bogotá and lays down a framework in visualizing the history, causes and consequences of this controversial policy through the development of a digital project using ESRI’s Story Maps.
Around the world, indigenous peoples are marginalized in terms of their identities, histories, and abilities to exercise and produce their cultures. The Sami are a group of people indigenous to four countries in Northern Europe: Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. In Sweden, legislation regarding Sami rights such as reindeer husbandry and education have created a policy of exclusion and separation of Sami. These policies reflect a perception of Sami culture that is limited to only 10% of the true Sami population. This lack of broad understanding and form of categorization leads to stereotyping of Sami people and impacts their well being and authority over their own identities. This project looks at the way Swedish policies categorize Sami and create perceptions of Sami culture and identity.
Too often gangsta rappers are labeled as the catalyst for death and poverty in their communities. However, gangsta rappers actually expose the social issues and narratives from their respective communities in order to reveal the harsh realities of America that tend to be ignored. Kendrick Lamar used his album To Pimp A Butterfly to give positive and enlightening messages to Black people, while also critiquing the government for its hypocrisy and biased legislation. This project aims to unpack overarching themes and provide scholarly evidence to support his claims in the album.
The verdict on dancehall as a space of empowerment for working class women is always in contention depending on whom you ask. For some, it is a space that unrelentingly denigrates women. For others, it is a space for feminist liberation. The truth, however, is somewhere in between. The space’s duality forces us to reckon with the complexity of histories of colonial violence, globalization, and diaspora and the way they play out in cultural expression. Using Afro-Caribbean and other black feminist schools of thought, this project aims to challenge simplistic representations of dancehall as only (dis)empowering for Jamaican working class women by examining moments within the space that speak to the complex manner in which their daily lived experiences manifest. I am interested in alternatively arguing for what I call a politics of negotiation.
Class of 2016
The current political establishment in Iran is an astute combination of post-revolution political institutions that reflect the ideals of the clergy, particularly of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the pre existing political institutions. The Islamic regime in a masterful move of statesmanship managed to accommodate these two sets of institutions under one system. This project attempts to explain the decision making within Iran’s highly complex power structure by introducing a fresh “Iron Fist/Velvet Glove” conceptualization to understand it. The study utilizes original translations of the Constitution of Iran to classify the institutions as belonging to Iran’s Iron Fist or her Velvet glove.
After the political changes of 1989 in Bulgaria, society’s split narratives concerning Communist monuments never reconciled. Despite that, the government continues to maintain and protect some of the most controversial memorials. This project analyzes how Bulgaria’s “double liberation”, once from the Ottoman Empire, and then a second time from fascist forces, has played a vital role in reinforcing a sense of indebtedness and brotherhood towards Russia. By building a database and creating a visualization consisting of mapping and timelines, the project examines the connections between history, government, and monuments.
Electronic music synthesizers are exemplars of the intersection of technology and music. The Synth Guide project is an online, interactive, semi-linear narrative that examines the most popular electronic music synthesis technologies in their technological, musical, and commercial aspects in a Scalar book using TimelineJS and SoundCloud. The project aims to familiarize readers with synthesizers by demystifying the workings of sound in electronic music synthesis and highlighting key trends in the commercial synthesizer market from its conception to its current state. – Johnny Gossick
William Butler Yeats is a poet of prolific writing and study. His works and authorial conception have been reified into the minds of literary students and critics. With an examination of word frequency and poetic conventions, this paper asks if the standard, “mystic,” lens and biographical implications that often accompany Yeatsian analysis have bearing. Word frequency was tracked and illuminated by topic modeling software, mainly Voyant tools. Furthermore, the piece reanalyzes the conception of authorship and formalistic text analysis, trying to reconcile post-modern conceptions with formalistic analysis.
Over centuries, merchants, religious scholars, and mystics have migrated from Hadhramaut, a region in south Yemen, to various coastal regions of the Indian Ocean. This has led to the formation of Hadhrami diaspora communities in East Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Using descriptions of prominent Indian Ocean port cities written by the renowned world traveler Ibn Battuta in the 14th century, this project presents an interactive map that traces his travels in relation to Hadhrami migration and influence on Indian Ocean trade and culture. The purpose of this visualization is to highlight Hadhrami migrants who played versatile roles in an interconnected Indian Ocean world.
In contemporary discourse, some research paints college students as politically disinterested and uninformed as compared with student activism of the 1960s and 1970s, whereas other research states that these students simply engage with political material in different ways than previous generations. This project uses topic modeling in order to investigate the political atmosphere at Lafayette College during two time periods: 1967–1972 (a time of heightened college activism) and 2011–2016, using the college newspaper as a primary source. By using Cytoscape, GitHub, and Neatline, this project explores how students at Lafayette College engaged with political issues through events such as guest speakers compared between the two time periods.
It has long been recognized that justices’ personal beliefs and policy preferences shape the ways they view constitutional law. In this project, digital tools, like MALLET and a web scraper built using Python, are used to look at whether or not ideologically liberal and conservative justices have differences in themes that appear in their majority opinions. To do so, a topic modeling analysis of majority opinions by Justice Sotomayor, Justice Scalia, and Justice Kennedy was done of their opinions since 2009, obtained using Harold Spaeth’s Supreme Court Database and caselaw.findlaw.com.
This project was designed to show the impact of humans in the top 5 countries with the most endangered species. Through the interactive graph, created using Tableau, you are able to visually engage with Ecuador, the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Mexico. Using the graph you will be able to see what two greatest threats in each country have posed the most risks to the countries species, look at human population increase, and examine the different factors that are pushing our worlds species to the brink of extinction. – Jillian Fahy
Class of 2015
This project was developed in hope of discovering connections between music and society. Artists set out to create music that entertains, but also look to create art that represents the times in which they live. This project looks to examine the way in which societal changes shift musical composition. – Vincent DeMarco and Benjamin Draves
This project aims to capture Ethiopian folktales and map out reoccurring themes as well as to highlight the moral behind each folktale. In order to accurately represent the diverse ethnicities found within the country we have selected five stories from each of the 13 regions within the country. – Feevan Megersa
The Turkish government’s relationship with the country’s press is negatively affecting the quality of its journalism. The country should focus on factors such as press market strength, legal restrictions, and self-regulation to create an environment like Finland’s that is more friendly to the free, untainted flow of information. – Ian Morse
This project will analyze the economic and social situations at hand for many people experiencing gentrification specifically in Washington D.C. Gentrification will not only have a detrimental impact on the citizens of Barry Farms, but will also be deleterious to the entire city of Washington DC. – Ahmed Braxton
The Garden of Easton seeks to aggregate the relevant information from all of these entities to connect local residents to food, whether that be a community garden, a CSA pickup location, a homeless shelter, or a meal center. We do so by providing an all-encompassing Android application, web-based map and plain text list of the food providers and producers in our community so that residents have an easily accessible site to find resources they need. – Miranda Wilcha and Peter Todaro