Congratulations to the 2022–23 cohort of Center for Digital Humanities Data Fellows!
Data Fellows learn best practices in data selection, structuring, cleaning, transformation, and preservation, with the aim of producing a dataset suitable for computational analysis, open-access publication, and future use in research and in undergraduate or graduate courses. Princeton faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students are eligible to apply.
Learn more about the researchers in this year’s cohort and their work below.
Brigid Doherty and Sara Green
For their second term as Data Fellows, Brigid Doherty (Associate Professor, German and Art and Archaeology) and Sara Green (Ph.D. candidate, Art and Archaeology) will continue to work on their digital humanities project, Languages of Art Writing, a database of the terminology employed in art criticism, artists’ statements, and manifestos published in Western Europe from the late 1940s to the present. The dataset takes as its point of departure the thematic and historical frameworks of an art history course developed with the support of the 250th Anniversary Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education and first offered through the Collaborative Teaching Initiative in Spring 2021, Reckoning with History, Responding to the Present: Art in Europe Since 1960, which was co-taught by Doherty and Nathan Stobaugh (Ph.D. candidate, Art and Archaeology); a second iteration of the course will be co-taught by Doherty and Green. Working in close collaboration, Green and Stobaugh have tagged original-language primary documents from the project’s corpus using more than six hundred keywords to create a database that explores connections among texts on the basis of shared language. The team hopes to triple the size of the database during this fellowship period. In addition, Stobaugh and Green will write an article exploring various methodological complexities involved in the project. For instance, how can meticulous, data-driven analysis engender manners of reading and visualization that differ from habituated modes of engaging with historical texts?
Molly Greene’s project will use geolocational data to illuminate the history of the Pindus mountain range, located in western mainland Greece, during the Ottoman period (fifteen through early nineteenth centuries). Greene (Professor, History and Hellenic Studies) will use mapping tools to explore an argument she is developing through other research methods: the mountain range is usually portrayed as a place of refuge for Christians fleeing from Muslim invasions. The assumed twin of refuge is isolation, both from the world beyond and within the mountain world itself. But the sheer number and the location of monasteries and bridges in the region suggests a deliberate infrastructure of mobility, one that was, moreover, connected to imperial institutions and political interests. Greene will focus on the location of bridges and monasteries and try to understand the logic of their location. She will use the method of least cost path analysis—that is, a calculation of the easiest path to travel a given topography—and information on known Roman routes from Antiquity for further contextualization of the monasteries and bridges. The project also speaks to questions of environmental history as it asks how a society developed and flourished in a seemingly inhospitable environment.
Greene’s fellowship is co-sponsored by the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies.
Caitlin Karyadi (Ph.D. candidate, Art and Archaeology) will use her fellowship term to refine two datasets of paintings attributed to Shen Nanpin, an eighteenth-century Chinese artist whose work became renowned in both China and Japan. The first, more detailed dataset includes more than two hundred works that have been attributed to Nanpin and photographed by Karyadi. It includes fields such as silk weaves and seals. The second, more complete dataset—which Karyadi worked on as a CDH Graduate Fellow—includes Nanpin-attributed works from various secondary sources such as museum catalogs and auction records. It currently has five hundred entries but will likely extend beyond one thousand paintings by the completion of the fellowship. As a Data Fellow, Karyadi will work to structure her data to facilitate analysis while gaining proficiency in analytic software. Ultimately, she will use the two datasets to compare and examine both individual paintings as well as the development of the larger Nanpin “brand” that was defined by spurious versions of Nanpin’s work.
Stephanie Luescher (Ph.D. candidate, Near Eastern Studies) will examine the annotations in medieval Arabic manuscripts that passed through the hands of sixteenth-century scholar Muhammed al-Muzzaffarī, who lived in Cairo. As a Data Fellow, Luescher will focus on annotations made by al-Muzzaffarī as well as notes added before and after him; these notes shed light on the use and movement of the manuscripts over time and the community of scholars that interacted with them. Luescher plans to examine approximately two thousand manuscripts held by Princeton University Library and to enter notes into an open-access relational database designed in consultation with the CDH. This data, to which Luescher will add over time, will feature prominently in Luescher’s dissertation, which explores al-Muzzaffarī’s annotations as a way to study book culture and scholarly institutions in the era when Cairo came under Ottoman rule.
Helmut Reimitz (Professor, History) plans to use the Data Fellowship term to apply computational tools to his work on the “history of histories” in medieval Europe. To explore how histories were edited and expanded over time, Reimitz plans to work with existing software and to design a digital description of the manuscripts that should allow him to reconstruct a prospective stratigraphy of parchment codices that have survived from the medieval period until now. This stratigraphic approach will enable him to pursue the biography of such manuscripts—from their original composition to the ongoing work and study of the texts by later scribes, editors, and historians. The Data Fellowship will result in a pilot database with a dataset of fifteen to twenty manuscripts from throughout the later Carolingian and post-Carolingian world (mid-ninth to twelfth centuries). This dataset will serve as a test for a future, larger database of histories from the period that will help scholars study how history books in regions throughout the (former) Carolingian world portrayed the past. Ultimately, Reimitz’s work promises to shed light on how the post-Carolingian world treated pre-Carolingian and Carolingian history and, more broadly, how areas across Continental Europe developed a shared Latin culture that shaped book culture for years to come. In addition, Reimitz hopes to introduce students to the datasets through his teaching.
Rachel Richman (Ph.D. candidate, Near Eastern Studies) plans to use her Data Fellowship to examine wills by women and wills bequeathing to women in the Cairo Geniza, a cache of thousands of documents found in a synagogue in Egypt and the focus of the CDH-Princeton Geniza Project research partnership, for which Richman currently serves as project manager. Richman will work with CDH staff to build either a spreadsheet or a relational database in order to identify patterns in the wills and create data visualizations that illuminate women’s role in the medieval Egyptian economy. Richman’s research on these wills, which will appear in her dissertation, will fill a gap in the scholarship; so far, historians have focused primarily on dowry when studying the wealth of medieval Jewish women. In addition, Richman’s project will offer a model to future historians hoping to analyze wills using computational methods.
As a Data Fellow, Xin Wen (Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies and History) will begin work on a “deep mapping” project on Chang’an, the largest city in the world for much of the first millennium CE. He will start by creating datasets based on two historical geographies of the city—one from the eighth century and one from the eleventh century—that shed light on the locations of residential areas, religious buildings, and more. Wen will use this information to build a layered map that shows how the city changed over time, bringing together information that has to this point been considered by scholars working in different disciplines and/or in different time periods. After the fellowship, Wen plans to incorporate additional data to make the map more complete. Ultimately, Wen hopes to make the map available online for research and teaching purposes, including his book-in-progress Chang’an: The Death and Rebirth of China’s Eternal Capital 900–1400, and his graduate seminar “Chang’an: China’s Medieval Metropolis,” respectively.