The Gustavian Weekly

Digital humanities lab added to Confer Hall

By Ella Napton - Staff Writer | September 15, 2017 | News

Gustavus is home to many state-of-the-art facilities. New buildings seem to pop up every year—each newer and full of more gadgets. Gustavus is home to many state-of-the-art facilities. New buildings seem to pop up every year—each newer and full of more gadgets.

Anderson Hall reopened in January 2017, and the new baseball field just began use for the fall semester this month. One of the buildings that has not been updated for quite a while just got a little bit of attention.

Confer Vickner just opened its new Digital Humanities Lab on the second floor in room 232. When one walks in, new computers stare back, as well as a brand new, large screens perfect for screening any movie or presentation.

This room was previously used for the Writing Center which moved when Anderson Hall reopened.

Three departments were instrumental in getting this space redone. The MLC (Modern Languages), Literatures, and Cultures, Scandinavian Studies, and the English Department.

All three departments worked together to create the proposal in the spring of 2017, and the space was renovated over the summer for its use in the fall.

Moreover, the departments say that it was all possible through the generosity of the provost’s office and Garrison Keillor, former radio host and founder of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion.

“The humanities are personally important to him, and the humanities, in general, does not get the monetary support and recognition it deserves,” – Sean Cobb

When he visited campus last year, he donated money and wanted it be put towards the Humanities because “the humanities are personally important to him, and the humanities, in general, does not get the monetary support and recognition it deserves” Sean Cobb, a professor in the English department, said.

And, according to a member of the departments, the college was very generous in allowing them to renovate the old space.

Both St. Olaf and Carleton have also created spaces for digital humanities.  The renovation was one way for Gustavus to rise to that level.

To help ease the transition into this new space, the three departments enlisted the help of Rebecca Wingo, the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Macalester.

She told those involved that it was very important for a space such as this to be created at Gustavus and helped with tips for its creation.

Moreover, the lab grew out of various faculty who received Mellon Digital Humanities grants. Those are as follows: Glenn Kranking, Baker Lawley, Carlos Mejia Suarez, So Young Park, and Lianying Shan, among others who helped in the creation of the lab.

This lab will be a “digital lab that will teach cutting edge research and new methods in the humanities” according to a member of the English department who wished to remain anonymous.

Digital humanities in a nutshell is the combination of digital technologies with areas of the humanities such as: History, Classics, English, and Philosophy.

The goal of the space is to teach marketable skills such as editing, social media, and writing for digital platforms that are useful skills for those in the Humanities to have after graduation.

“It’s a new method of scholarship that uses digital resources and computing tools to create such things as: digital archives, quantitative analysis, information retrieval, statistics, hypertexts and hypermedia, tool-building projects, data and text mining, digital mapping, topic modeling, and digital publishing,” Cobb said.

Some examples of classes that will use the space are English 205 which will use it to teach digital humanities tools, English 310 which focuses on Writing In The World, and English 350 which is taught by Baker Lawley and is a course in editing and publishing.

The lab is particularly useful for these fields of study because it has computers for each student, group work areas, and a large screen all of which are used frequently in editing and publishing.

Every student in the Humanities will benefit from the implementation of this space. Especially those who are taking writing, editing, film, and literature classes.

All of which occur in the English department, MLC department, and Scandinavian Studies department. Furthermore, groups working on group projects can utilize the space as a gathering area as well.

The opportunities for the use of the Digital Humanities Lab is limitless. From a showing of a movie in a poetry class to a presentation for Swedish 101 this space has access to all the things needed for these events and more.

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