Learning to Think Like Joe Lee

In the spring of 1847, the First African Baptist Church in Richmond Virginia raised twenty six dollars and thirty four cents to aid “the suffering of Ireland.” That amount is worth about eight hundred dollars today – an impressive sum for a one-time collection by a congregation.  But the donation is even more notable, I think, because the congregation was predominantly comprised of enslaved people. So, in the midst of the Irish famine, but also…

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Grappling with Revisions

I am working on several sets of revisions at the moment, and find (this might just be me) that the process of dealing with many different reviewer comments sends me into an anxious spiral that makes doing work of any kind difficult.  In these moments, I feel like the executive function part of my brain is shut off – which is a problem because it is precisely the part that I need to make sense…

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Hurricane history

As I am writing, hurricane Harvey is still happening.  At the moment (the evening of August 27th, 2017) it seems poised to swing out into the Gulf, pick up energy, and swing back to deluge inland Texas again (as an aside, I saw someone on twitter claim that Hurricanes are powered by cold, therefore climate change is “not a thing.”  Hurricanes get their power from warm, moist air, often found over oceans.  NASA has a…

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What do we do about archival violence? (#DH2017 talk)

I’m in the process (after the book manuscript is submitted!) of revising this into a more formal paper.  But in the meantime I wanted to put it out in the world.  (The slide deck is here: http://bit.ly/humanizing_data) Also, this includes the story that I didn’t have time to tell.  Again.  Some day I will give this talk and get to the story. Data is fraught with peril. I want to do two things today. The…

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Diagnostic tools – or – the pretty visualization is not the end

As the semester and my first graduate digital history class wind down, I’ve been thinking a lot about building DH things for investigation vs. argument.  There’s a lot of good work on tools-as-theory, and whether a digital thing can be a satisfying argument, and an upcoming conference on argumentation in the digital humanities – so I’m not the only one. I also just finished writing 1-2 pages – maybe 1,000 words – based on a…

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Quick note: Timeline of famine philanthropy

I’m sitting down to tackle my introduction, and wanted to say something specific about the timeline for famine philanthropy. Tableau helped to track the total number of donors by organization.  This is a better measure than the total amount of donations – at least until I go back and standardize British pounds and U.S. dollars, but it gives a good sense of time timeline of relief.  

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Re(cursively)-conceptualizing Atlantic History

Next semester, for the first time, I get to teach an Atlantic history survey.  I’ve taught a lot of courses that think Atlantically, but never one which has the Atlantic as a specific subject.  Looking back over the syllabuses I designed when I was on the market, I realized that I was subject to the (common, I think, but hopefully increasingly uncommon) trap of too-often letting British imperial history stand in for Atlantic history.  So,…

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Digital History “From Below”: a call to action (and an abstract)

I’ll be heading to Kraków this summer for DH2016 – here’s the paper I’ll be giving.   Humanists – inclusive of digital humanists – are preoccupied with telling stories. Some of our most interesting subjects, however, have left only the barest of marks on historical records. Their stories are among the most captivating, but also some of the most difficult to access. This paper knits together recent trends in digital humanities practices that have helped…

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