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Now in its third year, Keystone DH is an annual conference and a network of institutions and practitioners committed to advancing collaborative scholarship in digital humanities research and pedagogy across the Mid-Atlantic.
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Thursday, July 13 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
#s2b Temporality

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Collaborative Notes for Session (add your own thoughts!)

Days of Future Past: Augmented Reality and Temporality in Digital Public Humanities Initiatives (Jim McGrath)
How do digital projects that include augmented reality consider temporality? This project considers traditional and experimental approaches to mapping, documenting, and curating the passage of time. While many digital projects have incorporated timelines and other modes of documenting and annotating events across time, augmented reality offers both similar and arguably new challenges and opportunities to digital humanities and public humanities practitioners. How might house museums use digital tools to highlight the varied chronologies and contexts tied to the material objects in their physical spaces? How might the mechanism of the tour embrace the messiness of mapping past, present, and even imagined future contexts in their narratives? This discussion will be grounded in specific considerations of two recent projects supported by the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage (Brown University): a house tour of the Nightingale-Brown House (a house once occupied by the Brown family that now serves as the JNBC’s offices and classrooms) and Rhode Tour, a series of smart phone tours of various places and histories of Rhode Island (a collaboration with the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the Rhode Island Historical Society). The discussion will situate these projects within the larger histories of “analog” and digital projects interested in the idea of the “tour,” consider the dynamics between past, present, and future uses of the spaces users are guided through on these projects, and suggest alternate timelines that these and other projects might productively and creatively embrace and inhabit.   

Digital Paxton: A Digital Archive and Critical Edition of the Paxton Pamphlet War (Will Fenton)
At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, France ceded to Britain its claim on North American territories spanning from Quebec to New Orleans. Faced with the prospect of British expansion, a diverse group of native peoples launched a preemptive strike against forts across the trans-Appalachian west.That December, armed settlers from Paxton township murdered six unarmed Susquehannock in the Conestoga reservation, and 14 more sheltered in the Lancaster jailhouse. In January, they marched toward Philadelphia where the government harbored 140 Moravian Indians. They were stopped in Germantown by a delegation led by Benjamin Franklin, who persuaded their leaders to publish their grievances in a document, Declaration and Remonstrance. Waged in pamphlets, political cartoons, broadsides, and correspondence, the ensuing "pamphlet war" featured some of Pennsylvania’s preeminent statesmen, including Benjamin Franklin, governor John Penn, and Hugh Williamson, who would later sign the U.S. Constitution. At stake was much more than the conduct of the Paxton men. Pamphleteers used the debate over the conduct of the Paxtons to stake claims about peace and settlement, race and ethnicity, masculinity and civility, and religious association in pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania.
While historians have carefully examined the Conestoga massacre and Paxton march, the pamphlet war has largely escaped the study of literary scholars and critical theorists, who have relied upon a single critical edition, John Dunbar’s The Paxton Papers (1957), which is dated, limited in scope, and out of print.
To support new scholarship about and teaching approaches to the pamphlet war, I have worked closely with archivists at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to create Digital Paxton (digitalpaxton.org), a comprehensive, open-access archive of the Paxton incident. Thanks to the generosity of those institutions and grants from Fordham University and NYC DH, I have digitized more than 1,600 pages of pamphlets, broadsides, political cartoons, and correspondence—all available as free, open-access, print-quality images. In addition to serving as an online archive of the Paxton pamphlet war, Digital Paxton also functions as a platform for current historiography and scholarship, including essays from leading Paxton scholars such as Scott Paul Gordon (Lehigh University), Nicole Eustace (New York University), Kevin Kenny (Boston College), James P. Myers, Jr. (Gettysburg College), and Judith A. Ridner (Mississippi State University), and others. In my interactive talk I will demonstrate Digital Paxton and discuss my experience collaborating with scholars, archivists, and technical specialists.

Fuzzy Dates and the Digital Humanities (David Newbury)
With apologies to Clifford Simak, time is *never* the simplest thing.  One of the most common issues with dealing with cultural data is time.  The humanities are almost always interested  in that which takes place over time, but the way that humanists think about time and dates is fuzzy—full of imprecision, approximations, and generalities.
Unfortunately, while humans are fully capable of dealing with that ambiguity, computers are not: existing software needs a level of temporal precision that is impractical for cultural data. To bridge this gap, we need to precisely express the fuzziness of our dates. Over the past decades, tools and techniques such as Allen's Interval algebra, the Library of Congress's Extended Date Time Format, and the CIDOC CRM's time-span model have been developed to help model this fuzziness, but they are often so complex as to appear unusable by both humanists and technologists.
In this paper, I will present a technique developed as part of the Art Tracks project at the Carnegie Museum of Art for converting natural language statements such as "sometime after the 1970s" or "until at least the 17th century" into precisely defined expressions of temporal fuzziness usable by computers, technologists, and humanists alike.


Will Fenton

PhD Candidate (English), Fordham University
avatar for Jim McGrath

Jim McGrath

Postdoc, Brown University
Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. Former Project Director of Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive. Former Coordinator for Northeastern University Library Digital Scholarship Group... Read More →
avatar for David Newbury

David Newbury

Lead Developer, Art Tracks, Carnegie Museum of Art

Thursday July 13, 2017 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Ullyot North Chemical Heritage Foundation