NEH Digging into Data Challenge


Readers may be interested in the NEH Digging into Data Challenge Grant, which can be found at  It is designed for projects using large-scale digital analysis.  With a funding ratio of 16%, it’s certainly worth a try.  I would love to hear what sorts of digital analysis projects are underway.

On a separate note, during a recent visit to the Massachusetts Historical Society, currently celebrating its 225th year, I saw “The Private Jefferson” exhibit, which placed digital facsimiles next to original documents.  Viewers could magnify the digitized text so as to better read it.  Jefferson remained as enigmatic as ever, but the exhibit provided a rich conduit into the archival clues to his life.  It was superb.  I would love to hear about how readers use digital technology for teaching or in library exhibits.


5 Responses to “NEH Digging into Data Challenge”

  1. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks for this, Anna. What is very interesting about this grant is its transatlantic, collaborative aspect–asking for teams composed of scholars from three countries.

    Winners of the 2013, the last time, this grant was awarded, can be found here.

    Two of the grants seem of particular interest to EMOB readers:

      Commonplace Cultures: Mining Shared Passages in the 18th Century using Sequence Alignment and Visual Analytics
      Researchers and computer scientists from the University of Chicago (US) and the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre and Voltaire Foundation (UK) will use sequence alignment and large-scale visual analytics to track and map the use of frequently cited passages within a collection of 18th-century “commonplaces” — scrapbooks used to collect and organize quotations, proverbs and other bits of information—to identify trends and conventions in the compilation of commonplaces and examine their role in the formation of a collective literary culture. (NEH grant support: $124,948)

      Global Currents: Cultures of Literary Networks, 1050-1900
      Literary scholars and computer scientists from Stanford University (US), McGill University (Canada), École de Technologie Supérieure (Canada), and Groningen University (The Netherlands) will apply image processing and social network analysis to world literatures to examine and compare the literary networks of intellectual exchange that developed within distinct cultural epochs, focusing specifically on four domains: post-classical Islamic philosophy, women’s writing from the Chinese Ming-Qing Dynasties, the Anglo-Saxon Middle Ages, and the European Enlightenment. (NEH grant support: $124,559)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Thanks, Eleanor.

    I would love to hear more about “sequence alignment” and “large-scale visual analytics” to see what such things reveal. Similarly, it would be interesting to see what “social network analysis” consists of when applied to world literature.

    It would be so helpful to have articulate explanations of what such projects accomplish and why state universities or any universities should be engaged in them. I would love to hear more. Given that my institution is considering deleting its MLA Bibliography subscription, I’m all for powerful interpretations of the intellectual work we do.


  3. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    I am especially interested in the social network analysis. There is some information about these projects–Stanford’s Global Currents, for example, offers some insights about the work thus far, including work on medieval scribal culture and promised reports on ancient Chinese texts this year. When I heard about this project and Stanford’s involvement, it made sense given its Republic of Letters project that we have previously written about (post).

    Andrew Piper, eighteenth-century and digital humanities scholar, author of Book was There: Reading in Electronic Times and professor at McGill Univeristy, is the project director. While not updated recently, the Global Networks site nonetheless has a fascinating post that details a focus on footnotes in German periodicals that forms another part of this project.


  4. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    As for teaching with technology, I conducted a rewarding seminar this spring with undergraduates that resulted in a WordPress site devoted to The News-paper Wedding (1774). We worked on the intersections among journalists and novelists, and newspapers, magazines, and novels. We employed mapping technology and experimented with Big data and visualization, too, but we needed a better corpus. We are still working on the site’s content, so it is still private, but the following image of the home-page offers a preview:


  5. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Eleanor, that sounds intriguing. I hope you’ll report back when The News-paper Wedding project is complete.

    The Global Networks site provides a great overview of digital scanning. Thanks for linking to that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: