Digital Humanities at Berkeley recently awarded more than $200,000 in grants to UCB community members. The grants will promote collaborative research and the development of new DH courses.


14 research teams will be funded for projects that range from database development to algorithmic analytical tools.

David Bamman, Assistant Professor in the School of Information, and Cody Hennesy, E-Learning Librarian, seek to improve publication metadata in the HathiTrust via annotation as part of their project, “Predicting Dates of First Publication in the HathiTrust.” Such data will subsequently be used to generate computational predictive models of Hathi texts’ first date of publication.

Jeroen Dewulf and David de Lorenzo, respectively Associate Professor and Director of the Dutch Studies Program in the Department of German, and Associate Director and Head of Technical Services of the Bancroft Library, will prepare a digital research collection, “New York’s Dutch History,” that will use natural language processing to produce topic models of the new corpus. The collection will be accessible as a web application.

In collaboration with Terri Tanaka, Communications and Projects Analyst at the Berkeley Archaeological Research Facility (ARF), and Jon Stiles of the UC Data Archive, Eduardo Escobar, PhD candidate in Near Eastern Studies, will further refine his “Cuneiform De-Codedsoftware, which surfaces hidden meanings within ancient cuneiform texts.

Creating an online archive of conversations from ethnographic field sites and an accompanying podcast series, Juliana Friend, PhD candiate in Anthropology, will help to improve the current design limitations of most ethnographic archives and further comparative ethnographic research as part of her project, “Global Conversations: Building an Interactive Ethnographic Archive.”

Ron Hendel, Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies, with collaborators Laurent El Ghaou, Professor of EECS and IEOR, and Alon Daks, undergraduate major in Computer Science and Statistics, will build an online authorship attribution tool for the Hebrew Bible. This use of machine-learning algorithms will help literary scholars to better understand, via authorial attribution, key verses of biblical text.

Working with Nicholas Tripcevich of the Archaeological Research Facility, Kathleen Huggins, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, is developing a best practices work-flow for photogrammetric digital illustrations of curved and decorated objects as part of her “Minding the ‘Digital Gap:’ Digital and Traditional Archaeological Illustration.” Such work will ultimately accelerate the integration of quality, appropriately prepared photgrammetric imagery into the research process.

Anthropology professor Rosemary Joyce is working with Anthropology and Qualitative Research Librarian Celia Emmelhainz to create a web portal for MayaLab, a collaborative platform dedicated to the study of classic Mayan civilization. MayaLab will eventually include an external component meant to facilitate public interaction with scholars of Mayan culture, and an internal function designed to encourage expert exchange of draft materials prior to publication.

Graduate students Linda Louie (French), Keith Budner (Comparative Literature) and Jane Raisch (Comparative Literature), with the assistance of the Bancroft Library, will be creating an online platform for the dissemination and analysis of information on early modern scholar-printers. “Early Modern Scholar-Printers Online” will combine primary materials and aggregated metadata, among other resources, to allow scholars and students to better understand the paratextual conditions and practices of the early modern period.

Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies Rita Lucarelli will continue her DH work with a new digital platform allowing interaction with a 3D image of ancient Egyptian coffins and related metadata. With the ability to pan, rotate, and zoom into images of such coffins, and to explore incorporated data such as bibliographic information and translations, “Images of Eternity in 3D: The Visualization of Ancient Egyptian Coffins through Photogrammetry” will encourage more sophisticated analyses of ancient Egyptian funerary culture.

Scott McGinnis, PhD Candidate in History, in collaboration with Amanda Gagel and Christopher Oghe, Associate Editors at the Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library, will use DH funding to continue to refine an experimental TEI-XML edition of the Han shu, a fundamental source for information on the Western Han dynasty (205 BCE - 9 CE).

Anthropology professor Paul Rabinow, Near Eastern Religions graduate student Roy Fisher, and the wider Anthropological Research on the Contemporary group, including the Poetic Media Lab of Stanford University, are developing a modified version of the Lacuna collaborative annotation platform to the creation of relevant idioms and practices for the analysis of the Contemporary.

English professor Scott Saul will partner with Mary Elings, Archivist for Digital Collections of the Bancroft Library, and the Berkeley American Studies program to create a course and student-led digital exhibitions dedicated the Bay Area in the 1970s. Saul’s project will shine light on an under-explored period of regional history and further integrate undergraduate research and apprenticeship into the academic curriculum on campus.

Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, with the support of the Berkeley Center for New Media, is exploring the potential and ramifications of media-based interaction with archived collections that otherwise would be unaccessible to the public. This work will examine captured metadata to compare and connect “invisible,” archived material to the objects exhibited in institutions’ performative displays.

Art History professor Lisa Trever will team with Nicholas Tripcevich, of the Berkeley Archaeological Research Facility to create a geochemical visualization system to better understand X-Ray flourescence data from Andean artifacts. Such work will facilitate comparative research into Andean materials and culture.

Digital Humanities at Berkeley is funding two new courses that will further integrate digital tools and methods into graduate and undergraduate coursework on campus.

English Professor Maura Nolan, with the assistance of English lecturer Ryan Perry, will be developing “The Digital Middle Ages,” a case study-based graduate course uniting medieval studies with digital humanities tools and methods.

History professor Caitlin Rosenthal’s “Calculating Americans: Big Histories of Small Data” will expose upper-division undergraduates to the histories of data use in the U.S., as well as an overview of prominent data collection and analysis methods. The course will require students to combine these fields to prepare a final, critically aware historical data project.

CONGRATULATIONS to our grant recipients. We thank them and the rest of our community for their continued and inspired involvement with, and promotion of, digital humanities at Berkeley.