June 2015 – November 2016

Cohorts of Women in Biographical Collections (CWBC), a collaboration of Collective Biographies of Women (CBW) and Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), enables in-depth research on cohorts of historical women by uniting textual study of 1,200 collections of biographies (CBW) published 1830-1940 with data on persons, documents, entities, and networks extracted from 2.6 million archival descriptions in 3,000 repositories (and growing). CWBC will create innovative procedures for biographical-archival data exchange, as well as a Cohort Analysis Prototype (CAP) for comparison of cohorts (sets of women related by type of book or by occupation, nationality, period, etc.) and diverse networks; visualizations and discoveries in open-access code, white paper, and publications. The tools and process for sharing and maintaining identities and visualizing textual, archival, and social cohorts and networks will be shaped and evaluated by an international board of expert advisors.

Read more about the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant here.

Page Barbour

GRANT PERIOD – Rennie, do you have this?

In the diverse landscape of research at the University of Virginia, we (CBW) proposed an initiative to help remove three common obstacles: first, specialized research can be isolated according to historical periods or national boundaries, within or across disciplines; second, when faculty succeed in digitizing materials and creating a website, too often other scholars in their respective fields don’t make use of this access, while students at all levels and the public may miss opportunities to learn from or contribute to a project; and third, the innovation potential of computing and online display can become ends in themselves and remain distrusted by more traditional scholarship. In an attempt to address these central concerns, CBW proposed “Moving People, Linking Lives: An Interdisciplinary Symposium,” two days of sessions at UVa that involved renowned experts on narrative, prosopography, digital humanities, and our respective specialties. Symposium participants focused on the common aims of the projects presented and shared innovative research methods and discussed potential public access to human archives using today’s digital tools.

ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship

January – December 2014

In literary studies, prosopography is still an unfamiliar concept, and the widespread production of collections of lives has received little attention. Third-person, nonfiction lives invite large-scale comparative analysis in relation to historical and geospatial as well as biographical data, beyond the study of various editions of a single novel or the literary oeuvres of one or more authors. The invitation is all the more compelling when biographies are presented in groups, in an extensive bibliography and database intersecting these narratives, collections, persons, and events. Can digital tools enable close, critical interpretation or networked nonfiction narratives on a big-data scale in large archives? Can teams of editors consistently tag or locate variations among many version of individual lives and interrelated types of personae and publications? To address questions, Alison Booth and CBW collaborated with Worthy Martin and Daniel Pitti in IATH, as well as narrative theorist Suzanne Keen of Washington and Lee University, to create Biographical Elements and Structure Schema (BESS) with transformative potential for theories of narrative and prosopography and DH.

Read more about the American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship here.

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