5CollDH Undergraduate Symposium 2020:

A Virtual Showcase

The 5CollDH Undergraduate Symposium was an annual event organized by the Five College Blended Learning and Digital Humanities initiative. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 symposium, which took place on April 23 at 4pm EST, went fully virtual. The main focus of the three-hour symposium was a virtual showcase of research and exploration conducted by the 2019-2020 cohort of Five College Digital Humanities Undergraduate Fellows. A virtual showcase is certainly different from the previous, in-person iterations of the symposium, but in the spirit of DH we adapted the event to make fuller use of the technologies at hand. The fact that attendees did not have to be physically present turned out to be, in some ways, a benefit. We included a panel of our Five College Post-Baccalaureate Fellows, past and present, as well as a conversation between the 5CollBLDH Director Eric Poehler and 5CollBLDH Advisory Committee member TreaAndrea Russworm. Numerous former 5CollDH undergraduate fellows joined us for our online symposium and were active users of the chat feature. In some ways, the 2020 symposium made space for a virtual DH fellows reunion of sorts.

Join our our Twitter conversation for the Symposium using the hashtag #5CollDHFellows.

View our recordings from the virtual showcase below, or watch the whole YouTube playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKowKCD4QJGsKN2awzHsJV0Vi3_Kq-zmk.

Introductory Remarks

Eric Poehler
Director of Five College Blended Learning and Digital Humanities

Then and Now: Reflections on 5CollBLDH

Conversation: TreaAndrea Russworm and Eric Poehler

TreaAndrea Russworm
Advisory Committee Member for Five College Blended Learning and Digital Humanities, 2016-2017 Director of Five College Blended Learning
Eric Poehler
Director of Five College Blended Learning and Digital Humanities

Written Reflections From Former 5CollDH Undergraduate Fellows

Evan Young
2019-2020 Post-Baccalaureate Blended Learning and Digital Humanities Fellow

Panel: Post-Baccalaureate Reflections From Across the “Eras”

Jeffrey Moro
2013-2016 Post-Baccalaureate Resident in Digital Humanities
Alex Brenon
2018-2019 Post-Baccalaureate Blended Learning and Digital Humanities Fellow
Evan Young
2019-2020 Post-Baccalaureate Blended Learning and Digital Humanities Fellow, Panel Moderator

Project Showcase: Presentations by the 2019-2020 5CollDH Undergraduate Fellows

“Loose, Informal” Connections: Black Women Prisoners and the Black International
Destiny Wiley-Yancy
Smith College Senior

Wiley-Yancy’s project is a digital carceral history about the lives of two incarcerated women during the mid-twentieth century global black freedom struggles in the United States and South Africa. This project seeks to bring together prison narratives and visualization of space to examine the meanings of freedom for imprisoned black women. This project draws upon a range of methodological techniques such as literary analysis and biographical narratives in order to map a geospatial history of incarcerated women. The textual sources employed connect prison writings, poetry, prison correspondence, editorials, pamphlets, and memory to understand the lives of two women: Ericka Huggins, who was imprisoned in Connecticut from 1969-1971 and Theresa Ramashamola, who was imprisoned in Pretoria from 1984-1991. Huggins and Ramashamola–though separated geographically, temporally, and spatially across the global black freedom struggle—lived parallel lives. Their lives, seemingly unconnected, call us to rethink evidence of linkages within the “black international,” or universal emancipation, unbounded by national, imperial, continental or oceanic boundaries. Read more about Destiny Wiley-Yancy.

Bulls in a China Shop: The Asian-American Struggle for Place
Vivian Nguyen
Smith College Senior

Nguyen’s project is a digital curation of political art and texts that seeks to illustrate the evolution of Asian-American identity and the Asian enclaves that would eventually become known as “Chinatowns”. In exploring the duality of Asian-American representation as one that is desired yet feared, championed yet continuously othered, this project invites a conversation on belonging and the fragility of Americanness. Read more about Vivian Nguyen.

Arteries of the Empire: Relays in the Frontier Region of Qing China
Tian Xia
Amherst College Freshman

The Manchu rulers of the Qing Empire, China’s last dynasty (1644-1912), incorporated Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang into its imperial sphere and created the territorial foundation for the modern Chinese states. The Qing constructed a large network of postal and military relay stations across the vast empire, connecting these newly conquered, far-flung frontier regions with China proper. To a great extent, it was these routes that tied these culturally disparate areas together and integrated them into an inseparable unit, ultimately contributing to the vast territory that China holds today. Using Historical GIS, Xia’s project reconstructs the the Qing Empire’s major road system as an interactive map with a corresponding digital database. Raw data for the project are drawn from various historical geography sources including, official records of the Qing Court, travel Logs of government officials and scholars, and old pictorial Maps. All of these sources will be tied together with geospatial information from Harvard’s CHGIS as well as other self-produced datapoints. Read more about Tian Xia.

The Infrastructural Landscape of Ancient Tharros: A GIS Approach to Recording a Roman City
Cinzia Presti
UMass Amherst Senior

Water and water management in the ancient world has become a perennial topic, but to date the subject of water infrastructure in Roman Sardinia has been understudied. Presti’s project combines traditional archaeological surveying with geospatial methodologies in order to collect and examine data related to water management in Roman Tharros. The objective of this project is to model and analyze Tharros’ infrastructural elements, including the city’s sewers and drains system, cisterns, roads, and roofing environment to better understand how the urban infrastructure impacted the daily lives of Romans living at Tharros. Potential paths for and volumes of drainage in the excavated and unexcavated portions of the city were modeled to illuminate the impact of the water systems’ rainwater and waste management in both the domestic and public spheres, and determine in what conditions potential breakage points in the system may occur. Read more about Cinzia Presti.

Metrics of Success in South Asian Contemporary Art
Shreeansh Agrawal
Amherst College Senior

Agrawal’s project deals with the question of what it means to be a ‘successful’ artist in South Asia today. Having combined data science and art historical approaches, looking at auction sales and biennale/museum representation for artists over the last 20 years, the project creates a series of interactive network graphs that locates South Asian contemporary artists in a dataset by the number of auctions, biennales, museums, fairs and exhibitions. Read more about Shreeansh Agrawal.

Closing Remarks and open Q&A period

Eric Poehler
Director of Five College Blended Learning and Digital Humanities
Evan Young
2019-2020 Post-Baccalaureate Blended Learning and Digital Humanities Fellow, Panel Moderator
2019-2020 Five College Digital Humanities Undergraduate Fellows