Author: Christian Howard

I am a History PhD student at George Mason University and a Digital History Fellow at the RRCHNM.

Editors’ Choice: Twitterature – Mining Twitter Data

Screenshot of the python Twitter scraper

Hello again, everybody! I’m back this semester as a DH Prototyping Fellow, and together, Alyssa Collins and I are working on a project titled “Twitterature: Methods and Metadata.” Specifically, we’re hoping to develop a simple way of using Twitter data for literary research. The project is still in its early stages, but we’ve been collecting a lot of data and are now beginning to visualize it (I’m particularly interested in the geolocation of tweets, so I’m trying out a few mapping options). In this post, I want to layout our methods for collecting Twitter data.

Okay, Alyssa and I have been using a python based Twitter scraping script, which we modified to search Twitter without any time limitations (the official Twitter search function is limited to tweets of the past two weeks). So, to run the Twitter scraping script, I entered the following in my command line: python3 This command then prompted for the search term and the dates within which I wanted to run my search. For this post, I ran the search term #twitterature (and no, the python scraper has no problem handling hashtags as part of the search query!). After entering the necessary information, the command would create both a txt and a csv file with the results of my search.

Given Twitter’s strict regulations on data usage, the csv files created from my Twitter mining list only a limited amount of information about the tweet, while the txt files just contain the Tweet IDs (a distinct, identifying number that is assigned to each Tweet) that matched my search query.


Read the full post here.

Editors’ Choice: Taking a Sapphic Stanza – Papyri, Digital Humanities, and Reclaiming the Work of Ancient Women

Miniature of Sappho and her companions, from a Dutch translation of Christine de Pizan’s Livre de la Cité des Dames, Bruges, 1475. Image via the British Library, Add MS 20698, f. 73r.

This semester, I am teaching our department’s Archaic to Classical Greek Survey. I specialize in late antique Roman history and GIS, and thus this has been a departure from my normal research interests–and just one reason we are searching for a Homerist with DH skills right now. However, reading and teaching Greek does not mean that digital humanities cannot still be intertwined into everyday pedagogy. Teaching languages can still benefit greatly from digital contact with original papyri, ostraca, and manuscripts from antiquity and the middle ages. Case and point? The poet Sappho.

When I was hired at the University of Iowa, my teaching demonstration for Classics was to teach a portion of Homer’s Iliad to undergraduate Greek students. I took a non-traditional route to this assignment by using a fantastic digital project called the Homer Multitext Project  (edited by Casey Dué and Mary Ebbott) in order to challenge students not only to translate Homer, but to become familiar with the material culture that transmits a large amount of his work: manuscripts and papyri.

Homeric papyri fragments in particular range in date from the third century BCE to the seventh century CE. That new Homer inscription found at Olympia? That is from around the 3rd century CE. I had students translate the transcribed Greek in their textbooks aloud first, and then we took the same passages and read them on papyrus, on stone, and then from manuscripts. Students were generally enchanted by seeing the handwriting of ancient and medieval students and scribes and challenged to develop some paleographic skills. Further proof that it is never too early to start epigraphic training.


Read the full post here.

Editors’ Choice: Rethinking the Republic of Letters – Two Perspectives on the Early Modern Learned Community

Portrait of James Grant of Grant, John Mytton, the Honorable Thomas Robinson, and Thomas Wynne.

Early modern scholars oftentimes emphasised the ideal of sharing knowledge beyond confessional and national borders. But was the learned community of early modern Europe truly as open and accessible as these intellectuals proclaimed? Or did the Republic of Letters in action perhaps comprise a number of “sub-republics” divided along the lines of religion, discipline, region, and/or gender? And how did one enter the Republic of Letters in the first place? Raising these questions and others, SKILLNET, an ERC project based at Utrecht University, aims to historicise the early modern European knowledge society.

In this blog, we, two recent SKILLNET PhDs, present two different, yet complementary historical approaches to the Republic of Letters. Manuel Llano first introduces his large-scale research on scholarly networks. Next, Koen Scholten elaborates on community formation in the Republic of Letters, focusing on the experience and representation of the Republic of Letters by the Dutch seventeenth-century scholar Joannes Kool (1672–1712). We briefly conclude with an assessment of the virtue of combining historical network analysis and close-reading of ego-documents.


The Correspondence Networks of the Republic of Letters
Manuel Llano

The name of the Republic of Letters can be somewhat misleading: in the original Latin, there is a clear distinction between letters (litterae), referring to the realm of learning as a whole, and letters in the sense of written messages (epistolae). Thus the original actor’s term ‘Respublica litteraria” refers in principle strictly to the first meaning, and it is better understood as a commons of learning, not as a society of correspondents. Only when the expression was translated to certain vernaculars the distinction became blurry: both senses are conveyed by the same word in French (lettres) and English (letters), but are different, for instance, in Dutch (letteren/brieven) and Spanish (letras/cartas).


Read the full post here.

Resource: Behold the MusicMap

From the post:

A Pandora for the adventurous antiquarian, the highly underrated site Radiooooo gives users streaming music from all over the world and every decade since 1900. While it offers an aural feast, its limited interface leaves much to be desired from an educational standpoint. On the other end of the audio-visual spectrum, clever diagrams like those we’ve featured here on electronic music, alternative, and hip hop show the detailed connections between all the major acts in these genres, but all they do so in silence. Now a new interactive infographic built by Belgian architect Kwinten Crauwels brings together an encyclopedic infographic with an exhaustive musical archive. Though it’s missing some of the features of the resources above, the Musicmap far surpasses anything of its kind online—“both a 23and me-style ancestral tree and a thorough disambiguation of just about every extant genre of music,” writes Fast Company.

Read more here.

Editors’ Choice: Some Thoughts on Preprints for NAS Journals Summit

Creative Commons image by Neil Crosby via Flickr

I was invited to be a discussion leader for a panel on Preprints: Challenges and Opportunities at the National Academy of Sciences Journals Summit, but a nor’eastern prevented me from attending. I am grateful to Diane Sullenberger, Executive Editor of PNAS for reading my remarks. Discussion leaders were asked to talk about preprints from their own perspectives, and to offer questions/thoughts for discussion. These are my remarks…

Read the full post here.

Job: Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, Loyola University Chicago

From the ad:

Loyola University Chicago (LUC), College of Arts and Sciences, Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities invite applications for a full-time, renewable, three-year Lecturer position in Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, beginning August 13, 2018 for academic year 2018-2019…The candidate will be responsible for supporting ongoing research projects in the Center and for teaching courses related to that program, including required Digital Humanities and special topics seminars at the MA and advanced undergraduate level.

Read more here.

Job: 2018-2020 DH Postdoctoral Fellowship

From the ad:

The Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship, located in Mills Memorial Library at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, invites qualified candidates to apply for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship…Working under the direction of the Academic and Administrative Directors of the Sherman Centre, the postdoctoral fellow will in general support the outreach and curricular activities of the Sherman Centre.

Read more here.

CFP: Slavery in the Machine

From the CFP:

sx archipelagos is now accepting submissions for our upcoming special section “Slavery in the Machine,” guest edited by Jessica Marie Johnson. This special section aims to highlight scholarship situated at the intersection of technology and hemispheric American slavery. Topics may include but are not limited to: black code studies through a hemispheric lens…plantation societies and the socio-technics of enslavement…digital archives of slavery…representations of slavery on the open web or social media…cultural analytics and slavery.

Read more here.

Job: Digital Projects Manager with Rhodes College

From the ad:

Founded in 1848, Rhodes College is a selective, private, residential, undergraduate college. This person will be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive constituent engagement program to encourage involvement and investment in the college with primary focus on digital content. Rhodes College seeks a Digital Projects Manager to assist with faculty projects connected to the “Liberal Arts & Social Justice In the 21st Century” initiative and our ongoing partnership with the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM).

Read more here.