Graduate Research Fellows Program

The Graduate Research Fellows Program provides a structured and guided forum for graduate students to engage with each other and experts in the field of digital humanities around project design and management, data modeling and management, digital publication, and digital humanities pedagogy.

CESTA’s Graduate Research Fellows program is designed to prepare graduate students for a future where digital scholarship is the norm. The program provides a co-working environment and community of practice in which to design, develop, and workshop digital research projects-in-progress. The Fellows are an integral part of the CESTA community and meet regularly throughout the year to learn digital humanities research methods and engage in group discussions on relevant topics in the digital humanities.

Digital humanities research is by necessity collaborative. For the collaboration to be successful, we devote significant time and attention to building a cohort. Intellectual exchange is fostered in a context intimate enough for social interactions to emerge. At the same time, the Graduate Research Fellows benefit from cross-fertilization with the Spatial History Lab, the Literary Lab, Humanities + Design, Poetic Media,and a wide range of other project work going on at CESTA.

2015-16 Fellows

  • Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky Chechen Refugees Between the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1866-1871
    and Networks of Capital in Ottoman Amman, 1890-1908

    Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky (PhD Candidate, History) studies refugee migration in the late Ottoman Empire. His dissertation explores the political economy of North Caucasus refugee settlements in the northern Balkans and the southern Levant, as well as the construction of refugee networks within and across imperial borders. Based on the archival data that he collected in Turkey, Jordan, Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria, he works on two digital history projects as a CESTA graduate fellow. Vladimir’s first project analyzes the return migration of Chechen refugees from their settlements in Ottoman Anatolia and Syria to Chechnya, part of the Russian Empire. Vladimir utilizes Tsarist police records to map the readmittance and deportation of Chechen returnees in 1867-71. Vladimir’s second project investigates the economic development of Amman, a Circassian refugee settlement that would become the capital city of Jordan. Drawing on Ottoman land records, Vladimir adopts digital tools to visualize the networks of capital in Ottoman Amman in 1890-1914. His project traces real estate transactions between the town’s Circassian entrepreneurs and Syrian and Palestinian merchants.
  • Anja Krieger People, Ships, and the Sea: Seafaring in the Eastern Mediterranean, c. 1600 BCE to c. 50 BCE

    Anja Krieger (PhD candidate, Classics/Archaeology) is examining changes in seafaring and maritime trade in the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period, that is from mid-2nd millennium BCE to mid-2nd century BCE. Using evidence from shipwrecks I will illustrate how the modalities and development of maritime trade and connectivity changed through several time periods. At its core the dissertation argues that by analyzing the cargo composition of single wrecks as well as their distribution and provenance we can assess changes of shipping behavior and degrees of intentionality in maritime trade as well as levels of intensity within maritime trade and gain a better understanding of the relationships between local, regional and long-distance trade subsystems.
  • George Philip LeBourdais An Aesthetics of Ice: William Bradford's Arctic Regions

    George Philip (GP) LeBourdais is a doctoral candidate in the department of art history at Stanford University. His research focuses on the history of photography, ranging from nineteenth-century landscape imagery to 1960s Civil Rights photojournalism.
    Tracing the life and work of the marine painter William Bradford through his groundbreaking 1873 photographic book The Arctic Regions, George Philip's dissertation explores the aesthetics of ice nineteenth-century America. The project comprises six chapters that explore six rare copies of the book, explaining how the places they currently reside illuminate themes at the core of the nineteenth-century aesthetics of ice.
    Chapter titles are “Stillness and Movement” at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts; “Transformations” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; “Black and White” at Harvard University; “Reflections” at the British Library, London; “Crystallizations” in San Francisco; and “Periphery and Core” in Washington, D.C. This geographic approach foregrounds not only how Bradford brought the Arctic home to America, but also how the representation of ice contributed to the system of environmental and artistic values that we have inherited today.
    As a CESTA DH fellow, George Philip is developing a series of maps in the Spatial History Lab that trace concentric geographies of The Arctic Regions, including: the 1869 journey to Greenland that led to the production of the book; locations of surviving copies of the book; and the series of public lectures, illustrated by lantern slide projections of the book’s photographs, that Bradford performed across the United States.
  • Jens Pohlmann Mapping the German Cultural Sphere – A Digital Network Analysis of Siegfried Unseld’s Travel Notes

    In cooperation with the German Literary Archives in Marbach, Jens Pohlmann (PhD candidate, German Studies) is currently working on a digital network analysis of the travel notes of Siegfried Unseld, the head of the Suhrkamp publishing house. These notes contain information on an immense number of German and international authors, their meetings with the publisher, and the topics they discussed. The collection and preparation of this data will allow for illuminating visualizations of the literary and cultural German public sphere from the 1950s to the 1990s and enable further innovative research approaches to the materials in Marbach. After extracting the metadata from these typewriter documents, Jens will develop first visualizations of Suhrkamp’s network based on Palladio.
  • Laura C. Rogers Navigating the Archive of Helen and Newton Harrison

    Laura C. Rogers (PhD candidate, Modern Thought and Literature) is writing a dissertation on the 50-year career of two artists and university professors named Helen and Newton Harrison. Stanford acquired and is now processing the Harrison archive and Laura goes weekly to sift through the materials. Given the complexity, range of materials (230 linear feet), and wide-ranging contributions to art, science, and politics, at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year, Laura augmented her dissertation research methods to include a CESTA digital humanities project. She has initiated her CESTA project with data modeling, whereby she is developing a schema for a set of tables with multiple dimensions such that she can upload those tables into the web-based visualization platform Palladio (product of Stanford’s Humanities + Design Lab). Her writing will then build from this flexible research platform, which is not driven by the need to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge about the Harrisons’ career as if to synthesize or contain it. Instead, Laura is using Palladio to discover conceptual and aesthetic patterns that may exist from one project to another, investigating how the Harrisons have advanced the notion of “arts research” in the fields of ecology and social practice since the late 1960s and 1970s, with special attention to the influence of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), the LACMA exhibition on Art & Technology, and Osaka World Expo '70.
  • Stephen Sansom The Poetics of Style in the Shield of Heracles

    Stephen Sansom (PhD candidate, Classics) specializes in early Greek poetry and poetics. His dissertation performs a stylistic analysis of the lesser known archaic Greek poem, *The Shield of Heracles*, according to its use of traditional, oral-poetic language. As a fellow at CESTA, Stephen is developing a digital technique for processing and visualizing the poem's use of formulas common in the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, such as 'the wine-dark sea' or even the regular occurrence of a word in a particular metrical position. This work will result in both a more detailed understanding of the*Shield* and its relationship to early Greek poetry as well as new ways to explore the complex articulation of style in oral-poetics.
  • David Stentiford Charting the Discursive Envelopes of the Anthropogenic

    The foundation of my dissertation is an inquiry into the twentieth-century concept of the “anthropogenic,” a term coined by the British ecologist Arthur Tansley to describe ecosystems predominantly shaped by humans. Through my fellowship in the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, I will be working to develop my methodological tool set to map this concept in scholarship through the twentieth and twenty first centuries. At this stage, I am interested in DH, particularly techniques of text mining and network analysis, as an exploratory method.
    Provisional research questions include the following: As a descriptor, what objects does the term anthropogenic modify and describe over time: landscapes, emissions, climates, stratigraphy? And what envelopes of agency are drawn around the human figures standing be hind the term? Within the year at CESTA, my aim is to compose a corpus of digitized articles from scientific and social scientific journals and to produce visualizations that offer perspectives on the term’s academic usage. I plan to use these visualizations as exploratory maps for plotting a further detailed cultural history of the concept, to eventually understand more about the ways in which the term is used to frame current political debates about global change.

2013-14 Fellows

  • Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne Text Networks in the Early Roman Empire

    In the first centuries CE, the early Roman Empire witnessed a new literary phenomenon: text networks. Text networks are stories whose permeable narratives allowed them to circulate and adapt across multi-cultural audiences and reading communities in the Mediterranean and Near East. Not only were these texts translated into numerous ancient languages, but the characters and themes within the stories were also ‘translated’ into specific social and religious contexts. The Greek Alexander Romance, for example, depicts its eponymous hero as a paradigm of Greek heroism. But in the Latin, Syriac, Hebrew, Persian and Arabic versions, Alexander metamorphosed into a universal emperor, Christian missionary, and even Islamic prophet. My dissertation examines the origin and development of four text networks in Late Antiquity. One important component of my study of text networks is tracking their geographical spread from the first to sixteenth centuries CE.
  • Patrick Bergemann A General Theory of Denunciations

    The central aim of my dissertation is to come up with a general theory of denunciations. I seek to understand who denounces whom. For example, are certain types of individuals targeted as scapegoats? Do people accuse others of similar or different statuses? Are there consistencies across different historical periods and places? To answer these questions, I have constructed three datasets – one based on several hundred denunciations from the Spanish Inquisition, another based on all extant records of the Salem Witch Trials, and the third from the testimony of Hollywood writers, directors and actors accusing each other of being Communists during the McCarthy Era.
  • Guillaume Beaudin A Conquista Espiritual

    My research focuses on the mendicant religious orders, particularly Franciscans both in Spain and New Spain. The sixteenth century saw a relatively small-scale migration of members of these orders to Central America. They came in order to undertake what a group of Franciscans in a letter to Charles V called a conquista espiritual. These friars had a great importance on the history of Mexico: in addition to administering an astronomical numbers of baptisms - some friars claimed to have baptized thousands of Amerindians in one day - they codified native languages and wrote ethnographic works that serve as our main primary sources on pre-Cortesian Mexico. My goal with this project is to find a way to track the movement of mendicant friars from Europe to New Spain, then within New Spain from one religious house to another, and finally, in some cases, back to Europe. With this project I will be able to visualize the gradual integration of Mexico into the Catholic world in a new light, as the product of the movement of a relatively small number of friars into one of the frontier lands of Christianity.
  • David Driscoll Mapping the Movement of Lyric Poets in the Archaic and Classical Greek World

    Our project is a study of the movement of lyric poets in the archaic and classical Greek world. In this time period, the most important for lyric poetry in antiquity, the travel of poets like Pindar and Simonides formed a vital part of the economy of symbolic capital between city-states: democratic assemblies and tyrants competed to attract the most prestigious poets, the Athenian empire drew talent to Athens from across its range, and religious festivals offered venues for poets to showcase their talent before audiences from across the Greek world. An important recent study on this movement is Hunter and Rutherford (eds) Wandering Poets in Ancient Greek Culture: Travel, Locality and Pan-Hellenism (2009).
  • Luke Parker The Literary Life of the Russian Emigration, 1918-1940

    This project emerges from my dissertation work (expected completion Spring 2014), which focuses on the Russian-language work of Vladimir Nabokov in relation to contemporary German thinking on urban modernity, technology, and mass culture. In the course of the dissertation I have had cause to question his place within the broader First Wave community. Resident in Berlin from 1922-1937, his creative attention began to focus into the '30s on Paris, with his correspondence, performance, and publication taking place increasingly in France rather than Germany. I envisage my Humanities + Design work forming the basis of a final chapter on Nabokov and Paris. Once collected, however, the data will furnish grounds for a separate article, if not book-project, on the broader literary history of the Russian emigration between the wars.
  • Bronwen Tate Critical Traffic: A Literary Use Map

    As scholars, we often have an intuitive sense that certain passages in a given novel or particular poems by a given poet receive more critical attention than others. But how stable are these “key passages” or “significant poems” over time? To what extent do they reflect shifting critical trends and interests? How evenly distributed are they within a work? I would like to build a tool for visualizing scholarly quotation over time. The primary purpose of such a tool is make hidden patterns visible. We might notice, for example, that scholars have concentrated on passages from the beginning and end of a novel, while the middle remains relatively undiscussed. Or we could ask how stable the most frequently analyzed poems by Elizabeth Bishop have remained as critical interest in her work has increased dramatically. This project proposes that we think of books as cities with well-navigated critical pathways and busy intersections of dialogue, but also deserted neighborhoods and neglected squares. It is a critical commonplace that there are “used” and “unused” parts of books. This tool would allow us to visualize and analyze trends that we now perceive intuitively or by conjecture.
  • Molly Taylor-Poleskey Food Consumption at the Court of Friedrich Wilhelm

    My project charts change in food consumption at the court of Friedrich Wilhelm, the “Great” Elector, of Brandenburg-Prussia (1640-1688). The court of Brandenburg-Prussia underwent considerable transformation in this period: from the destruction of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) to becoming a court fit for a king (and poised for the royal ascent of the Hohenzollern in the next generation). Cultural change and influence are difficult things to track systemically. The food consumed at court, however, offers concrete evidence about the transformation process while also revealing some of cultural and political values of the court and elector. Consumption patterns also help us understand the functioning of the court, the most important political institution of early modern Europe.
  • Jonathan Weiland Complexity of Interactions in the Classical Roman Period

    I study the Roman period of the classical past, which extends across a massive swath of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Within the boards of the Roman Empire (and outside of it) there were was a great deal of movement and migration. Not just by emperors and armies, which the majority of ancient history focuses on, but also of everyday people, basic commodities, and humble artifacts. The project I have in mind will allow an audience to see and compare some of the many networks of movement within the Republic and Empire by using overlapping data sets. There are over a dozen potential data sources which could be included, such as trade amphora with merchant markings from shipwrecks, artifacts made from identifiable material types, and letters by ancient authors such as Pliny or Cicero. These sources could be included at some time, but what I want to focus on at first are funerary inscriptions, and the ancient coinage. Ultimately, with this project I want to help show that the Roman world was one of intense interaction which no single information source illustrates well, to expose the complexity of interactions during this period, and to emphasize that lacuna in our knowledge of activities can lead us to unsafe assumptions.
  • Hans Wietzke What was an author?

    I am writing a dissertation entitled ‘Poses in prose: cross-genre typologies of authorial self-fashioning’, supervised by Reviel Netz, Alessandro Barchiesi, and Maud Gleason. In short, the project investigates the question ‘What is an author?’ It departs, however, from the Foucauldian focus on the author as an instrument for interpreting, categorizing, or excluding texts, and instead examines how Greek and Roman authors, sampled from a wide generic and chronological spread, textually fashioned their own identities. My larger goals are: 1) to show how self-fashioning helps us understand how authors position texts in generic as well as wider social contexts; 2) to gauge how uniformly Greek and Roman authors presented themselves and their goals; 3) to gain some perspective on the differences and similarities between Greek and Roman authorial self-fashioning and similar practices in ancient China and early modern Europe; and 4) to demonstrate that we can profitably use both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate these questions.

2012-13 Fellows

  • Maria Comsa French Language and Literature

    French 18th Century Society Theater
  • Nicole DeBenedictis History

    17th Century Italian Academies
  • Hannah Marcus History

    Correspondence of Galileo Galilei
  • Claude Willan Engliah

    John Locke's Correspondence Network
  • Marcelo Aranda History

    An Intellectual Map of Science in the Spanish Empire, 1600-1810