CDH New Staff Profile: Caterina Agostini

Meet our new Project Manager, Caterina Agostini!

Caterina joined the CDH this fall after earning a Ph.D. in Italian from Rutgers University. Read on to learn more about Caterina’s research and leadership in the DH community.

Caterina Agostini smiles for the camera. She wears a blue top and a scarf.

How did you get involved in digital humanities?

I am very passionate about the humanities, and I became interested in DH as a way to look into big corpora of texts and images from new perspectives. In that sense, cultural heritage and computational methods are fundamental for me to explore connections in the topics I study in my research. As a scholar of Italian studies, I am particularly interested in scientific texts in the 1500s and 1600s, so that material book history informs my analysis in the context of history of science and medical humanities. Thus, the humanistic rationale behind my Ph.D. dissertation, Scientific Thinking and Narrative Discourse in Early Modern Italy (16th and 17th centuries), is also a profoundly computational one, where words and images have equally formative roles to express and present new ideas on nature, through the Italian vernacular. By looking into manuscripts and early modern printed books of Galileo, for example, I could build collections of relevant themes, diagrams, and illustrations in high-quality digital images, all of which helped me retrace a new scientific language in words, as well as in marginal notes and images in Renaissance and Baroque Italy. Furthermore, I explored Natural Language Processing in my research corpus, for which I shared some results in “Explaining Words, in Nature and Science: Textual Analysis in Galileo’s Works” for Northeastern University Women Writers blog.

I also acknowledge that no scholar stands alone, and I find that to be true in DH as in the humanities more broadly. I am grateful that my mentors at Padua University, in Italy, and at Rutgers University have encouraged my own views in DH, so that I benefited from dedicated research time to develop my projects, thanks to the Open Knowledge Practicum Fellowship at the University of Victoria Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, the Renaissance Society of America DHSI Scholarship, and the ongoing D’Argenio Fellowships in History and Data Visualization to study the D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities at Seton Hall University.

What is one DH-related project or accomplishment you are proud of?

I am happy I have the opportunity to be Co-Chair of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) Outreach Community Group, where I collaborate on public engagement for information on IIIF (pronounced “Triple-Eye-Eff”), to ensure relatable, conceptual information and value of this technology for high-resolution images with deep zoom and annotations. As a member of the Program Committee for the IIIF Fall Working Meeting, I contribute to presenting the state-of-the-art applications of high-resolution images for scholars, and promote ways to gather ideas from the community on the field of natural history and scientific images. As always, I look forward to this opportunity to discuss and learn from colleagues in GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) and anyone interested in image-based resources and technologies. This will also be a valuable experience to share with my colleagues at the CDH, and the Princeton community. I believe that digital images have great potential to foster collaboration, and expand access to cultural heritage worldwide, for images, books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, music, and archival materials; stay tuned for audiovisual materials that are about to be implemented, too.

I realize that I have always been fascinated by digital and computational tools, and I was thankful for the opportunity to learn more thanks to cultural initiatives of the European Union during my undergraduate and graduate education in Italy. In addition to my education and research in DH, I enjoyed teaching and consulting on textual and visual projects at the Rutgers Digital Humanities Initiative and Lab, Europeana PRO, and PHAROS, The International Consortium of Photo Archives led by the Frick Collection. It was also great for me to offer visual-oriented workshops at the 2021 NYCDH Week, where I taught an introduction to IIIF and a workshop on Palladio, a geospatial tool developed at the Stanford Humanities + Design Lab.

Among my projects and DH research, I designed a digital project presenting the method of Santorio Santorio, a physician who introduced quantitative methods to medicine, and I wrote a journal article for La parola del testo: Rivista internazionale di letteratura italiana e comparata. Additionally, I presented those findings at the 2020 Medical Heritage Library Conference and through an invited guest blog post, “Revealing Data: Ars de Statica Medicina, 1614” for the National Library of Medicine blog “Circulating Now”. I support open-access scholarship, and my recent article on Interdisciplinary Digital Engagement in Arts & Humanities (IDEAH) is a project I am happy to contribute to the scholarship on Renaissance artist, Benvenuto Cellini. I intend my DH projects to be web-based, as well as documented through publications in the humanities.

Tell us a little more about your role at the CDH.

I am serving as the Digital Humanities Project Manager at the CDH to support a variety of projects and initiatives, ranging from the CDH Data Fellowships to the newly founded Machine Learning + Humanities Working Group. I also collaborate on the Multilingual DH Working Group for text analysis and scholarship in languages other than English, and the New Languages for NLP initiative promoting Natural Language Processing in understudied languages. In my work, I enjoy researching and learning more about projects supported and funded by the CDH, and I appreciate fostering some conversations with my colleagues at the CDH and the project team members to explore methods, goals, and milestones for each project.

If you work on digital editions, exhibitions, and image collections, or on data analysis, interpretation, and visualization – please feel free to contact us at the CDH. We will discuss with you the Project Management guidelines, so that we can guide you through the steps to plan, design, and implement your project. This rigorous protocol of best practices, built and documented at the CDH since its opening in 2014, allows us to assist you, as you bring your ideas into digital representations and formats, through computational tools. I know, you might be surprised to see how DH can apply to many disciplines and fields of study, research, and teaching! No matter where you are, from undergraduate projects to scholarly projects and work–we’ve got you covered.

What are you enjoying working on at the CDH? What are you looking forward to?

The CDH fosters the perfect environment for collaborating, experimenting, and implementing projects. As everyone at the CDH insists, believing in yourself and reaching out to our colleagues builds our team, and I am honored to be part of it. This work culture supports us all, as we advocate for research data in the humanities, and the inclusion of computational tools in academic courses and projects at Princeton University.

Editor’s Note: Don't miss our interview with the new HC3 Curriculum Specialist, Emily McGinn.

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