Workshops | Reading, Resisting, and Reimagining The Map

The John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, the Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship, and the John Carter Brown Library present a series of events that ask us to think about the uses of maps, data, and visualizations in the stories we tell about place, identity, and migration. Entitled, Reading, Resisting, and Reimagining The Map, the series consists of three workshops:

Visualizing Precarious Lives in Torn Apart / Separados
Thursday, November 1 from 12 – 1 p.m.
Lecture Room (1st Floor), Nightingale-Brown House (357 Benefit St.), John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage
Dr. Roopika Risam (Assistant Professor of English, Salem State University) discusses her work on Torn Apart / Separados, a highly-collaborative project that uses digital tools to reveal troubling stories about immigration policy, incarceration, and the humanitarian crisis caused by the work of ICE in the United States.

Before There Were Lines Along the Rio Grande
Friday, November 2 from 12 – 1 p.m.
MacMillan Reading Room, John Carter Brown Library
Drawing on the rich collection of rare books and maps at the JCB, curators, librarians, and researchers will provide a critical context for how northern Mexico and what would become the southern United States was experienced during a colonial era that predated the modern nation-state. A historical perspective enables us to understand how these liminal spaces were imagined in an era before electronic surveillance and satellite imagery.

Thinking Critically About Data
Tuesday, November 6 from  3 – 4 p.m.
Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library
Data sets tell stories, support arguments, and help us map and visualize information, but they aren’t neutral. How do you create and visualize data points that aren’t stable, such as data models of identity (e.g. race, gender)? How can we create data models that reflect people’s lived experiences? In this workshop, we’ll analyze and create a dataset, exploring what our data says and what it doesn’t.

For more information on the workshop and the topic of analyzing datasets, click to read “Thinking Critically About Data” by Ashley Champagne, Digital Humanities Librarian at the Brown University Library.

Workshop | Thinking Critically About Data

Ashley Champagne, Digital Humanities Librarian

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018 from 3 – 4 p.m., Ashley Champagne, Digital Humanities Librarian, will offer a workshop entitled, “Misconceptions of Data: Thinking Critically About Data.” Part of the Reading, Resisting, and Reimagining The Map series, the workshop will take place in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library. The workshops are free and open to the public.

Thinking Critically About Data

Despite our increasingly digital world, data sets on all kinds of topics are missing, limited, and misunderstood. Mimi Onuoha uses the term “missing data sets” for “the blank spots that exist in spaces that are otherwise data-saturated.” She documents a series of questions that have no answers. Questions like, “How many people have been excluded from public housing because of criminal records?” are impossible to answer because there is incomplete, unreliable, missing data. And even when data sets exist, they may not be publicly accessible.

The team behind the Torn Apart / Separados project encountered the lack of data surrounding the question of where children were living after they were separated from their parents due to Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2018. Public discourse surrounding the crisis focused on how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials held children at the United States/Mexico border. But the Torn Apart / Separados map tells a different story due to the data that the team rapidly collected, analyzed, and published. ICE centers holding children separated from their parents are all over – not just along the border, but in the middle of the United States and everywhere in between.

The Torn Apart / Separados team were thankfully able to collect the data they needed, but for certain research questions there is little quantitative data to gather. Particularly in such cases, qualitative data can illuminate areas of study where quantitative data is limited or impossible to gather. The population size of transgender individuals in the United States, for example, isn’t well known partly because there isn’t a lot of data on gender identity. One way to find out some information on questions that do not have clear answers is to collect qualitative data, like articles that include the word “transgender,” and explore that qualitative data through text mining. Text mining offers the researcher the ability to find patterns and themes in large corpora.

One of the ways the Torn Apart / Separados team went about collecting the data was by using Application Programing Interfaces (APIs). At the Center for Digital Scholarship in the Brown University Library, we teach workshops on everything from data literacy to text analysis to thinking critically about data. On behalf of our center, I’m offering a workshop to explore how to use an API to collect full text articles to create a dataset.

APIs offer limited information, such as the web URLs, keywords, titles, and sometimes other metadata. They will get researchers part of the way to collecting a qualitative dataset, but not the whole way there. But from the initial API data, we can use web scraping software to gather full text articles. There will always be missing data sets, but beginning to collect data to find answers to our questions is a good start. 

Ashley Champagne
Digital Humanities Librarian
Brown University Library

Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Time:  3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Events | Mellon-Funded Digital Publishing Initiative Workshops

This fall, Brown University Library and the Program in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (REMS) will host a series of interactive, interdisciplinary workshops on digital humanities scholarship for undergraduates, featuring two pilot projects selected for Brown’s Digital Publishing Initiative, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The REMS Program offers students many opportunities to work with centuries-old books and pictures in some very modern ways, uncovering exciting research questions in the humanities, history, and the social sciences along the way.

Books without Pages: Project Atalanta

The first workshop, “Books without Pages: Project Atalanta,” will take place on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 12 p.m. Project Atalanta brings to life in digital form a multimedia seventeenth-century text, Michael Maier’s alchemical emblem book, Atalanta fugiens. The publication will consist of a dynamic, enhanced digital edition of the early modern book, including recordings of its fifty fugues, as well as a critical anthology of media-rich interpretative essays. Associate Professor of History Tara Nummedal, Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy, and Designer for Online Publications Crystal Brusch, along with the graduate and undergraduate students who have been working on the project, will present material from the digital project in conjunction with an evaluation of the printed early modern book from the John Hay Library.

Journey into the New World and Other Tales of Forgotten (Early) Modern Media

The second workshop, “Journey into the New World and Other Tales of Forgotten (Early) Modern Media,” will take place on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 12 p.m. Professor of Italian Studies Massimo Riva, Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy, and Designer for Online Publications Crystal Brusch will introduce undergraduates to the wonders of time travel by exploring several examples of analog media from the pre-digital age. How can popular forms of entertainment from centuries ago, such as the cosmorama, the magic lantern, or the “moving panorama,” help us better understand our own “brave new world” – our digital visual culture? This workshop will revolve around a set of digital simulations of eighteenth-century optical devices being designed for this project.

Both events will take place in the Digital Scholarship Lab on the first floor of Rockefeller Library. A short reception will follow.

Dates: October 26 and November 1, 2017
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street

Event | Dante in Real Time

On Monday, December 4, 2017 at 12 p.m., the Brown University Library and the Program in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (REMS), as part of the Journeys to the Early Modern World in Brown’s Libraries fall series, will present an hour-long workshop, “Dante in Real Time,” designed to introduce undergraduates to the extraordinary possibilities for undertaking engaged research among our special collections.

Dante’s Divine Comedy recounts the poet’s journey through the afterlife and back. From hybrid beasts and fearsome devils to friends and foes, Dante’s world has inspired generations of readers to envision what lay beyond the known world.

In this hands-on workshop, Christopher Geissler, Director of the John Hay Library, and Zoe Langer, 2017 Hay Interdisciplinary Fellow, will view different responses to Dante’s poem, including sixteenth-century maps of Hell and illustrations by Gustave Doré. The Chambers Dante Collection allows us to experience Dante’s poem as its readers encountered it through the centuries and to see how REMS students, working closely with literature, languages, and book illustration, can discover remarkable questions lurking in very old books.

“Dante in Real Time” will take place at 12 p.m. in the Bopp Seminar Room on the third floor of the John Hay Library. A short reception will follow.

Date: Monday, December 4, 2017
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Bopp Seminar Room, Third Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street

Exhibit | Victorious Secret by Angela Lorenz ’87, P’18

Victorious Secret: The “Bikini Girls” are Winning the Pentathlon on view at the Rockefeller Library, from August 31 – November 20, 2017

Surprise! The nearly two-thousand-year-old mosaics from Villa Romana del Casale  in Sicily, known simply as the “bikini girls,” are really female athletes from prestigious Roman families. Brown University is the tenth venue for this traveling suite of triptychs, made of buttons and hairpins, which sets the record straight on women in sports.

Meet artist Angela Lorenz, class of 1987, P’18 to learn about her visual arts project and the impact of study abroad on Friday, October 13, 2017, at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library.

Dates: August 31 – November 20, 2017
TimeJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Hours
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Talk and Workshop | Zines and Radical Librarianship with Jenna Freedman

On Thursday, February 2, 2017 from 3:30 – 5 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Jenna Freedman, Associate Director of Communications and Zine Librarian at Barnard College, will give a talk on zines and zine history, radical librarianship, zinemaking, and queering publishing. This event is free and open to the public.

Jenna Freedman’s research and practice center on zines and activist librarianship. She writes and presents on these and other topics and was a co-founder of the Radical Reference Project and #critlib.

From 7 – 10 p.m. on February 2, Jenna and Malana Krongelb ’17, the Sarah Doyle zine archivist, will lead a workshop about zinemaking as a form of “queering publishing” and creating radical, accessible, authentic platforms.

Craft supplies will be provided, but feel free to bring your own!

The day’s events are part of the festivities surrounding the opening of the Sarah Doyle Center’s Zine Collection, which has been curated and catalogued by Malana Krongelb.

Sponsored by Brown LGBTQ+ Center, Brown University Library, Pembroke Center, Department of American Studies, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, and Dean of the College.

Date: Thursday, February 2, 2017
Times: 3:30 – 5 p.m. (talk) and 7 – 10 p.m. (workshop)
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab (talk) and Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio (workshop), John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Dissertation Writing Retreat January 9-13 from the Writing Center, Graduate School and University Library (Deadline 12/28)


Advanced PhD students are invited to apply now to participate in a Dissertation Writing Retreat in January 2017. The writing-intensive retreat, to be held January 9-13, will provide 16 participants with space, time and encouragement to make progress on their dissertations. Stacy Kastner, Associate Director of the Writing Center, will lead the retreat, which pools the resources and support of the Graduate School, Sheridan Center and Libraries.

The deadline for submitting the electronic form is Wednesday, December 28, 2016. See details, including eligibility, here.

During the retreat, students will meet in the morning to set writing goals over coffee and tea, spend two hours writing, and then break for an informal lunch talk peppered with energizing advice and anecdotes about how to successfully navigate the dissertation writing process. In the afternoon, they will spend another three hours writing, with one-on-one support available from Writing Associates and Research Librarians. The group will close the day at 4 p.m., regrouping to check-in about writing goals and to celebrate progress made.

This offering is a response to the Graduate Student Council’s request for increased writing support for graduate students.

Event | On the Material Trail: Embedded Librarianship in the Heart of Tuscany


4th International Creative Competition for New Designer Makers, Milan, Italy, February 2016

In 2015, Mark Pompelia, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Visual + Material Resource Librarian, accompanied a double-major RISD student (Apparel Design-Industrial Design) on an international exhibition program called Craft the Leather. Based in the Tuscan Leather District of San Miniato, Italy, the program hosted ten schools for a weeklong immersion into the industry of vegetable-tanned leather making, which is both centuries old and full of modern innovation.

On Monday, April 18, 2016 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Mark will explain how the week served to launch each student on an artistic journey to craft a line of works based on the sites visited, lessons learned, and the inherent qualities of the supplied leathers. Produced over summer 2015 in direct consultation with the Material Librarian, the works were collected in a curated exhibition launched at a February 2016 international exposition in Milan.

Mark Pompelia

Mark Pompelia, Visual + Material Resource Librarian, Fleet Library, RISD

Mark Pompelia has been Visual + Material Resource Librarian in the Fleet Library at RISD since 2010. He oversees its non-text collections to include still and moving images in analog and digital formats, including film and video, slides and photographs, half a million picture clippings, 21-million digital images via subscription, and more, in addition to one of the largest material samples collection in the country. He is the administrator for Artstor Shared Shelf and the newly launched Digital Commons @ RISD institutional repository.

Date: Monday, April 18, 2016
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Library Workshops in April 2016


The Library is offering a number of workshops in April. Here’s a look at the upcoming Library workshops this month:

Also, check out the upcoming workshops in May.

Library Workshops in February 2016

Students in the DSL

The Library is offering a number of workshops in February. Here’s a look at the upcoming Library workshops this month:

Also, check out the upcoming workshops in March.