ACLS Digital Innovation Fellows

The ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship program supports digitally based research projects in all disciplines of the humanities and humanities-related social sciences. It is hoped that projects of successful applicants will help advance digital humanistic scholarship by broadening understanding of its nature and exemplifying the robust infrastructure necessary for creating further such works.

2014-2015 marked the tenth and final year of the ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship Program, generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Pramit Chaudhuri
Pramit Chaudhuri  |  Abstract
Literary scholarship has long been preoccupied with identifying verbal relations among texts (“intertextuality”). This project is developing a suite of new computational tools to enable researchers to trace connections among Latin and Greek texts at a higher order of scale and efficiency than manual searches: 1) a sequence alignment tool that identifies verbal parallels that are close but inexact (the commonest kind of intertextuality); 2) a digital Greek-Latin thesaurus to enable identification of parallels across languages by virtue of their meaning; 3) a pattern recognition tool that detects passages of similar metrical structure; and 4) a set of tools designed for classification of texts according to various stylistic metrics, which will be useful for studies of quotation and attribution.

Associate Professor, Classics, Dartmouth College  -  Computational Analysis of Intertextuality in Classical Literature

Natalie M. Phillips
Natalie M. Phillips  |  Abstract
This project brings together scholars in literature, cognitive science, and digital humanities to explore how work in the new field of literary neuroscience can revitalize and expand tools and methods in the digital humanities. This work draws on an ongoing analysis of an interdisciplinary functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment on Jane Austen from the Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition lab (DHLC) at MSU to integrate digital tools with neuroscientific data (fMRI, eye-tracking, etc.) to map the physiology of reading in real time. In expanding the networks and maps central to digital data analysis to include the human body, this project advances digital scholarship by connecting traditionally broad-scale algorithms to a micro-analysis of embodied reading.

Assistant Professor, English, Michigan State University  -  The Neuroscience of Reading: Integrating Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition

Ryan Cordell
Ryan Cordell  |  Abstract
The Viral Texts project leverages sophisticated text mining tools to identify widely -reprinted texts, unknown a priori, from large-scale archives of historical newspapers and magazines. In early experiments these methods uncovered thousands of “viral texts” in antebellum American newspapers, most of which are unfamiliar to literary scholars or historians of the period. During the fellowship period, the Viral Texts project will expand to explore transoceanic and translingual reprinting through the nineteenth century among periodicals in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and German-speaking countries. A global Viral Texts project will offer insight into how ideas in the nineteenth century crossed oceans and languages, and how these acts of transmission and translation shaped Americans’ understanding of their place in the world.

Assistant Professor, English, Northeastern University  -  Global Viral Texts: Mapping the Circulation of Nineteenth-Century Newspaper Literature across Oceans and Languages

Daniel L. Smail
Daniel L. Smail  |  Abstract
This project lays the groundwork for a documentary archaeology of things from later medieval Europe. An enormous quantity of records has survived from this period. Scattered across this imposing mass are innumerable references to an extraordinary array of household possessions, ranging from tools and crockery to furniture, garments, art objects, and jewelry. These are the textual counterparts to the tangible things found in museum collections and archaeological sites. Focusing on late medieval household inventories, DALME is developing a virtual collection of textual things that will complement online museum collections and other resources. The DALME collection, which will feature many tens of thousands of items, will be of value to many fields of humanistic inquiry, ranging from material culture and fashion history to archaeology, art history, and religious studies.

Professor, History, Harvard University  -  The Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe

Kim T. Gallon
Kim T. Gallon  |  Abstract
The history of black newspapers in the United States is at the core of the African American experience. Yet print and digital scholarship on the black press is relatively limited and falls far short of the work on other topics in the field of African American history. The Black Press Born-Digital (BPBD) project is a step in rectifying this issue. It transcends traditional digital newspaper programs by utilizing EPUB 3.0 open source software and the Open Monograph Press platform to create a series of four peer-reviewed born-digital books on transnationalism, the short story tradition, children’s columns and political cartoons from nineteenth and twentieth century black newspapers. The BPBD project recovers the history of African American journalism and demonstrates that digital humanistic work does not circumvent traditional modes of scholarship but strengthens it and stands on its own as scholarly work.

Assistant Professor, History, Purdue University  -  The Black Press Born-Digital Project

Daniel Trueman
Daniel Trueman  |  Abstract
Scordatura, or “mis-tuning” as applied to stringed musical instruments, subverts the embodied physical connection, hard-earned through years of practice, between body and sound. This mis-tuning and the musical instruments themselves serve as powerful models for building new digital instruments that leverage and renew these hard-earned skills. Through an iterative process of conceiving and building new digital instruments (in both hardware and software), this project engages a number of important questions concerning instrument design, the body, and musical expression. Central to this process of digitizing, through code, our ideas about how instruments work is a productive tension between qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding musical instruments and musical bodies.

Professor, Music, Princeton University  -  Scordatura: On Re-Mapping (and Mapping) the Body to Sound

Marit J. MacArthur
Marit J. MacArthur  |  Abstract
When we say that poet X reads with a neutral or expressive tone, what do we mean? This project adapts and improves pitch-tracking tools—commonly used by linguists to analyze the fundamental frequency of the human voice and intonation patterns—in order to refine methodologies and terminology used by humanities scholars concerned with sound and performance. The first phase will develop a simple, user-friendly interface for pitch-tracking, drawing on two open-source software programs, Praat and ARLO (Adaptive Recognition with Layered Optimization). These tools will then enable new empirical research on recordings of individual performances, as well as distant listening projects (analogous to distant reading), using machine learning on the “big data” of audio archives to study trends in performance and oratory. The project, which draws on the expertise of linguists, machine learning scientists, and media artists and designers, is hosted by the ModLab at the University of California, Davis.

Associate Professor, English, California State University, Bakersfield  -  Poetry Performance and Pitch Tracking: Tools for Sound Studies