Art + Technology: New Perspectives on the Humanities – St. Thomas E-Learning And Research
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Art + Technology: New Perspectives on the Humanities

What is the Digital Humanities Grant Program?   

The Digital Humanities Grant Program is a collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and STELAR (St. Thomas E-Learning and Research), which was established to increase awareness and participation in the blending of two complementary fields of study, Art and Technology. It offers grant funding for faculty and graduate students whose proposals are chosen by the selection committee. Sound interesting?  Come to the information session on how to apply for the next round of grants on Thursday, December 5th (5:00-6:00 pm) in the STELAR Smart Classroom (OSF LIB LL21 St Paul campus) to get details on the application process and see project examples. Read on for a rundown of currently funded projects that recently participated in a mid-point showcase.

In the spring of 2019, the Digital Humanities Grant Program awarded three grants to support projects that merge art and technology in the areas of Virtual Reality, Story Mapping, and Machine Learning. On 10/29/19, the grant winners participated in a showcase to display their work in progress. In addition to faculty and staff, the gathering included students from Emily James (Associate Professor of English) “Modernism and Its Afterlives” class.    

Learning together Oct 29     Eric presenting learning

The Arts provide boundless content and expertise which can be exhibited and explored in novel ways using emerging technology. The grant program is funded by generous donations from Dean Yohuru Williams and STELAR, who provided seed money and technological expertise for the initial round of grants. 

Presenting This Year’s Projects 

 The committee reviewed proposals last year and chose three excellent and diverse projects for funding. Two faculty projects and one graduate student project were funded. A recap of the projects:  

Professor Gretchen Burau submitted a project on the culture and art of the Asmat people in Indonesia that utilizes ArcGIS Story Map technology to create interactive maps that allow viewers to regional cultural differences and similarities tied to the geographic locations of this diverse tribal culture. 

Gretchen presenting learning

Professor Laura Zebuhr is exploring the nature of Eros in the writing of Thoreau. This project uses machine learning and a contextual word search algorithm developed by STELAR to explore all 10,000+ pages of Thoreau’s published works and private journals for commonalities, correlations and coded messages that would be impossible to notice through reading and study alone.  

Laura presenting learning

Graduate student Theresa Malloy’s project is an Ethnographic Virtual Reality work that highlights the activity of Appetite for Change, which works in North Minneapolis to build community through urban gardens and food markets. Theresa’s work allows the viewer to step into the garden to experience it in three dimensions while learning more about the organization and their work. 

Theresa presenting learning

 When completed in late Spring 2020, the projects, as well as the technology used to produce them, will be highlighted in the STELAR Showcase, allowing visitors to interact with the three works and to learn more about how the technology is used in order to inspire further works that blend art and technology. 

More Background on this Partnership 

How the Partnership DevelopedThe program grew out of the vision and initiative of Professor Alexis Easley (English Department) who then reached out to Brett Coup (AVP of Academic Technology) to discuss the concept of Digital Humanities and how we could promote and support them. From that conversation evolved the idea of a grant program. Alexis took the idea to Dean Yohuru Williams (College of Arts and Science) who provided funding, while STELAR agreed to provide the coordination and technical resources necessary to produce the projects.   

Leadership TeamThe DHGP committee members are representative of interested parties across the university, with Ann Zawistoski. Associate Director of Research and Instruction for Libraries and Information Services, Tommie Marrinan, Assistant Professor in Computer and Information Sciences, Salvatore Pane, Associate Professor of English, Alexis Easley, Professor of English, Brett Coup, AVP of Academic Technology, and Eric Tornoe, Associate Director of Research and High-Performance Computing. This group creates the documents, runs the application process, selects grantees from the applicant pool, and assists the grantees in the execution of their project. Heather Shirey, Associate Professor of Art History, served as Faculty Mentor to Theresa Malloy, the grad student winner.  

For questions on the grant, contact Eric Tornoe or anyone on the leadership team! And watch for a future STELAR Stream announcement on the spring 2020 in-person learning showcase.   

This post was written by Eric Tornoe, Associate Director of Research and High-Performance Computing with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

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  • Reply Digital Humanities Grant: Updates and Invitation for New Proposals! – St. Thomas E-Learning And Research December 9, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    […] first round of grant-supported projects are underway, with grantees engaged in projects that range from ethnographic virtual reality, an interactive […]

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