All posts by Alexandra Margolin

#dhcc16: Space in Time; or, What We See Depends on When We See It

We recently wrapped up our DH Summer Institute for faculty from across the Claremont Colleges. At the end of the week-long intensive workshop we asked participants if they would be willing to write up their experience as a blog post. The brilliant and enthusiastic Char Miller, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, jumped at the opportunity. So below we hand the website over to hear about the Summer Institute (and much else) in his words….


If you are tall enough, and I’m not, you could peer out of the large, north-facing, four-pane window in the Digital Humanities Studio on the third floor of Honnold Library in Claremont and gaze on a striking tableau. In the deep background are the chaparral-cloaked, rough folds of the San Gabriel foothills that rise up to Mount Baldy, the range’s visual apex. Pull your eyes down to the foreground and a different view comes into focus. Imported stone pines and eucalypts, and a green sweep of lawn, establish the x-and-y axis that is filled with other geometric shapes, concrete sidewalks that radiate out at right angles from the library connecting pedestrians to Dartmouth Avenue to the west, stately Garrison Theater to the immediate north, and to McAllister Center and Scripps and Claremont McKenna Colleges to the east. Nothing is out of place, all grows according to plan: this built landscape tightly structures the spatial dimensions of how we move through it and how we see it.


Claremont Colleges Digital Library.”>Fast backward 115 years, a difficult act of imagination that historic photographs can stimulate. Consider this Claremont Colleges Digital Library.”>black-and-white shot from the Claremont Colleges Digital Library, shot at the corner of what was then Warren (now College) Avenue and 7th Street, roughly a block south of Honnold Library.  The mountains are vastly more prominent in this more unstructured terrain: the dirt road barely intrudes as you eye is caught first by the snow-capped high country. Filling the fore- and middle-ground is the alluvial fan that over the millennia has built up as floods roared out the canyons, carrying tons of debris into the valley below. This rough ground—which the Tongva called Torojoatngna, the Place Below Snowy Mountain—is carpeted with an apparently untrammeled sage shrub and chaparral—boulder-littered, largely treeless, open. However rumpled, the terrain is probably less pristine that it might seem. The Tongvan and other First Nation people of Southern California used fire to manage for the resources that wished to extract—materials they invested in their rituals and ceremonies and that provided food and shelter. What we are looking at, in short, is what archaeologists have dubbed an “indigenous landscape.”

Claremont Colleges Digital Library.”>Aerial_view_of_ClaremontIts indigeneity has been buried beneath hardened roadbeds, gridded streetscapes, and the manifold structures that constitute the Claremont Colleges; an environment that signals its distance—historically, intellectually, even by the choice of which species to plant and where—from that earlier time and place. This was a distancing freely chosen: Pomona College’s first landscape architect, Ralph Cornell, a member of the class of 1913, knew a great deal about endemic habitats and how they functioned, but promoted the concept of a “College in the Garden,” a conceit around which the larger community, this “oasis,” replicates still. An origin story that my students in EA 199 Native American and Environmental Histories happily troubled in zine and commentary.

Interior Dialog

What would it take to reimagine the traces of that earlier biome? How might we peel back what the bulldozer flattened? How might the digital humanities enable us to re-see what we have rendered invisible? To make the past, present?

Those questions, among others, led me to join with some wonderfully sharp 5C colleagues as part of the 2016 DH Summer Institute. For a week we sat indoors getting schooled in the various tools and techniques we might employ to reconceptualize our teaching and scholarship; to disrupt what we thought we knew.

It worked. One sure sign is that I have absolutely no sense yet how I might incorporate what I have learned about.

  • Thick networks: how build to build them, who has access to them, and for what purposes
  • Tyranny of the tool: Miriam Posner’s apt caution not to let the technology dominate the content
  • Multimodal thinking (which I interpreted as akin to multimodal transit; that is, the layering of different forms of transportation to enable fluid interconnections, transfers, movement)
  • Visualization: Erik Loyer challenged us to use “grids and gestures”—not words!—to identify our research. Mine shakily sketches out the northerly perspective from the DH Studio window (I didn’t peek, promise)

The full array of insights and puzzles is deeper and longer, and some of its depth and length is captured in the stream of tweets my peers and I generated while trying to absorb what we were hearing. Woven together, these digital expressions have created an ecosystem of ideas and insights, a habitat at once virtual and vital.

They comprise as well an electronic space that is as material as the lost landscape I’d like to reconstruct.

Char Miller is the W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, and author most recently of America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses, and Grasslands and the forthcoming Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream.

DH@CC 2016 Summer Institute Schedule

We are excited to announce our 2016 DH@CC Summer Institute Schedule!

The Summer Institute will run daily from 10am-4pm the week of May 23-27. All Claremont faculty and staff are welcome to attend any sessions that are of interest. All morning sessions will run from 10am-12pm and all afternoon sessions will run from 1pm-4pm. There will be a lunch break each day from 12-1pm.

The Institute will be held in the Claremont Colleges Library. All talks/lectures will be in the new Digital Humanities Studio (DHS) on the third floor of Honnold. All workshops will be held in the Keck Learning Room (KLR).

Please note that the second floor of the Library will be undergoing construction the week of the Institute. You will be able to access the building either from the Honnold South Entrance (outside the cafe), or the Bridgeway (underneath the bridge that connects the two floors).

Please watch the talks given by last year’s Summer Institute speakers prior to the Institute. They can be found here.

The Schedule
-Morning Session (DHS): Introduction to Digital Humanities and resources available
-Afternoon Session (DHS): Speaker Jonathan Alexander discusses DH pedagogy. Please watch Liz Losh’s talk prior to the session.

-Morning Session (DHS): Speaker Miriam Posner provides an introduction to DH and DH scholarship. Please watch Tara McPherson’s talk prior to the session.
-Afternoon Session (KLR): ArcGIS Workshop

-Morning Session (DHS):Speaker Erik Loyer discusses Data Visualization. Please watch David Kim’s datalogical methods and mapping videos prior to the session.
-Afternoon Session (KLR): Omeka and Tableau Workshops

-Morning Session (DHS): Speaker Patty Ahn about DH pedagogy. Please watch Laila Shereen Sakr’s talk prior to the session.
-Afternoon Session (KLR): Scalar Workshop

-Morning Session (DHS): Small group consultations with DH@CC team
-Afternoon Session (KLR): Reflection and Wine & Cheese Reception

Please email Alex Margolin at with any questions.

DH@CC’s Two New Courses for Fall 2016

DH@CC Fall 2016 CoursesAre you a Claremont Colleges undergrad intrigued by the thought of doing research and production using 21st Century technologies? Perhaps you’re at the Claremont Graduate University and interested in Digital Humanities methods? Whether you’re experienced in these topics or not, we’re excited to offer you two new course offerings for the Fall 2016 semester.

DH 150: Digital Humanities Studio
Design and Publish Humanities Projects with 21st Century Tools

T/Th 11:00am-12:15, Fall 2016 (register via CMC)

HUM 340A: New Worlds for All
Digital Humanities Research Methods in Settler Colonial Studies

Wed 4:00pm-6:50, Fall 2016 (register via CGU)

For more information about DH 150, to acquire a registration code, or two set up a meeting to discuss your interest, contact Dr. Daniel Michon, Faculty Director of the Mellon DH Grant. For more on HUM 340A please contact Dr. Ashley Sanders, Director of the Digital Research Studio.

Announcing the 2016 DH@CC Grant Winners

We are excited to announce the 2016 Faculty Programs Recipients!

The selection committee, comprised of faculty from across the 5C’s and members of the DH@CC staff, received over thirty applications for our 2016 programs and choosing our final group of recipients was a difficult process. Digital Humanities at the Claremont Colleges (DH@CC) takes an expansive and inclusive approach: scholars who use digital methods in their teaching, research or publication and/or are considering the digital, as humanists, in their teaching, research or publication.

The Summer Institute recipients are: Tanja Srebotnjak, Erika Dyson, Nancy Macko, Todd Honma, Paul Faulstich, Tamara Venit-Shelton, Sarah Sarzynski, Char Miller, Virginie Duzer, and Kyla Tompkins.

The Course Development recipients are:

Vivien Hamilton, History, Harvey Mudd College

Professor Hamilton will be redesigning the course Popular Science since the 19th Century. This course will examine the ways in which science has been written and displayed for non-specialist audiences from the early 19th century to today. As the course moves into the late 20th and early 21st century, they will examine popular science online, on websites, blogs and comics, asking how and whether these new modes of communication allow greater engagement and participation from more diverse communities. Additionally, Professor Hamilton hopes to work with the class to write simple python scripts in order to engage with digitized primary sources.

Anne Harley, Music/Humanities, Scripps College

Professor Harley has proposed to redesign the course Mobilizing Art: Creating Activist Performances. THe course exAMINES the following questions: How does political art function differently than activist art? What strategies do effective activist art and political art deploy? What can we learn from late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century activist and political art performance in the U.S. and Asia, as it played out in visual art, theatre, music, dance and multimedia?   The course culminates in the deployment of student-directed and student-performed activist art works coordinated by members of the class and presented publicly, and/or for the students of the Scripps College Academy. With support from this grant, one project will focus on the collection and curation of an activist archive/exhibits focusing on activism, and art activism in particular, at the 5Cs.

Kathleen Yep, Asian American Studies, Pitzer College

Professor Yep has proposed to redesign the course ASAM94: Community Health which examines the following aspects of human existence: wellness and injustice.  As an interdisciplinary course from the discipline of Asian American Studies, ASAM94: Community Health explores how social factors (poverty, war, migration, citizenship status, language barriers, age, and racial ideologies) negatively impact wellness  in Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities.  Inspired by C.Wright Millsʻs “sociological imagination” or the intersection of history and biography, this class will combine digital humanities and community engagement to document life stories of immigrant and refugee elders. The project draws from a six-year partnership with Literacy for All of Monterey Park (LAMP). LAMP is an adult and family literacy program that furnishes language classes, computer classes, citizenship classes, and individual tutoring. College students will facilitate English-as-a-Second-Language conversation classes with and for Asian and Pacific Islander immigrant and refugee elders at LAMP. Using Ira Shorʻs and Paulo Freireʻs critical pedagogies, the Claremont College students will digitize photographs and personal artifacts and record immigrant and refugeeʻs stories of chronic stress and wellness.

Harmony O’Rourke, History, Pitzer College and Ruti Talmor, Media Studies, Pitzer College

Professor O’Rourke and Professor Talmor proposed a new course that will examine contemporary Africa from a historical perspective, focusing on African art, culture, and politics since the 1970s. The broad purpose of this course is to expand our understanding of how to generate knowledge about the more recent past outside of traditional sources and in a manner that privileges diverse perspectives within civil society.Through the use of digital tools such as Omeka, WordPress, and video, students—in collaborative projects—the students will be challenged to locate and digitally curate a diverse set of primary sources in order to build complex understandings of African experiences after colonial rule. These projects will be accessible to the general public as well, with the goal of engaging with both local and global—especially African and African diaspora—audiences.

Ethel Jorge, Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Pitzer College

Professor Jorge has proposed to redesign an upper division Spanish course Los Angeles, The City and Its People which explores the lives of Angelinos and the urban spaces they inhabit; the presence of the Latino community and other ethnic groups in the city; racial backgrounds and their contexts; and economic inequalities, frictions, and social struggles, historical and contemporary. The class includes weekly daylong exploratory field trips in Los Angeles, selected readings, classroom discussions, reflection papers, and a capstone project or paper. This project aims to add to the course some of the technological and social media skills that students will need to thrive in the 21st century, and to integrate digital humanities with language learning and critical pedagogy. It will also enhance the community engagement aspects of the course through recorded interviews of community members, GIS studies of neighborhoods, and students’ own explorations of significant areas of the city using mobile technologies on site.

Feng Xiao, Asian Languages & Literatures, Pomona College

Professor Xiao has proposed a new course entitled Chinese Language in Society. Using a systematic data-driven approach, this course introduces the current trends in research on Chinese language learning (e.g., sociolinguistics and second language development). It addresses two broad questions: how a second language is learned? and how social and cultural norms are encoded in the use of Chinese? Students are expected to increase their understanding of the mechanism of second language acquisition and knowledge of Chinese linguistics. They will also develop their academic skills such as using statistical software (e.g., SPSS), searching digital databases (e.g., MLA, LLBA, and PubMed), and doing corpus analysis. In essence, the proposed course attempts to situate the domain-specific learning in the context of domain-general learning theories, which prompts an interdisciplinary perspective on learning Chinese language and culture.

Dru Gladney, Anthropology, Pomona College

Professor Gladney has proposed to redesign the course AN 150: Anthropology of Religion, Myth, and Ritual. There has never been an digital dimension to the course. The central question of the course will be the quest for meaning through religious myth and ritual as evidenced in sacred social space.  Students will be asked to digitally interact with and map sacred social spaces through a wide variety of texts and media. This project aims to add to the course some of the technological and social media skills that students will need to thrive in the 21st century, and to integrate digital humanities with language learning and critical pedagogy. It will also enhance the community engagement aspects of the course through recorded interviews of community members, GIS studies of neighborhoods, and students’ own explorations of significant areas of the city using mobile technologies on site.

Jonathan Petroupoulos, History, Claremont McKenna College

Professor Petropoulos has proposed to redesign the interdisciplinary course History 88: Museums and Leadership. It is a history, art history, politics and leadership studies course, all at once.Museums and Leadership is divided into four units: the first concerns the history of art museums in the West, from the British Museum and Louvre in the 18th century to the Met and vanity museums today (among other topics).  This unit engages intellectual history (Kant, Winckelmann, and others had a lot to say about museums), and, of course, art history. The second unit focuses on antiquities in museums. The third quarter explores Nazi art looting and restitution issues, focusing on leadership issues that arise in conjunction with this issue.  The final unit is about how museums function (boards, etc.), how museums are evolving (the above-mentioned “vanity museums”), and how the art market relates to museums. The students will be given more freedom in the redesigned course to determine their own questions and direction. The goal is that students undertake a digital project that they can then present to the class. This work can be topical (the expansion of the Met, which now holds over 3 million objects), or issue-oriented (e.g., the problem of forgeries), or even activist (e.g., combatting the looting of antiquities by ISIS in Palmyra and other parts of the Middle East).

Geert Lovink, USC Media Arts + Practice PhDs, and RUST LTD to Converge on the Claremont Colleges

The presentresolved legal conflict between the FBI and Apple regarding access to the iPhone of the San Bernardino murderers is only one stage in the larger theater of privacy and government regulations made famous by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Though even this broad conversation is part of a grander narrative on cultural values in our era of the Internet and social networks. Rather than letting the FBI and other government entities dictate those values, various theorists, activists, and hackers (hactivists, so the speak) have been working on the front-lines to create a balance between our personal lives and the networks we often take for granted. Coming to the Claremont Colleges to illuminate these stakeholders in the field called “tactile media” is a distinguished scholar on the topic, Geert Lovink, sponsored by the the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry at Pitzer College.

Lunch Talk – Geert Lovink
Politics of Mask Design: Critical Internet Culture after Snowden
April 15 | 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Founders Room
RSVPs are required. Please email Rachel Durkin in the Dean of Faculty Office at

In conjunction with DH@CC, we’re excited to follow-up Lovink’s talk with a salon on media activism featuring activist gamers from Los Angeles and San Francisco in conversation with Lovink. They will be coming to our new Digital Humanities Studio on the 3rd floor of the Claremont Colleges Library in the evening as we showcase activist games that the gamers themselves helped create.

Salon on media activism with LA hactivists/gamers at DH@CC Studio
April 15 | 4 – 6 p.m. | Honnold/Mudd Library
LA-based Activist Gamers:
Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz (RUST LTD & USC Media Arts + Practice PhD candidate)
Luke Noonan (RUST LTD)
Emilia Yang Rappaccioli (USC Media Arts + Practice PhD student)
Tonia Beglari (Browntourage & USC Interactive Media & Game Design MFA Candidate)
San Francisco-based Activist Gamer:
Cayden Mak (18 Million Rising)

We hope you’ll join us for both events on April 15th!

DHarmony expands Digital Humanities at the Claremont Colleges, sees launch of the DH Studio

Aptly named DHarmony merged various Digital Humanities activities at Claremont Colleges Library and Digital Humanities at the Claremont Colleges (DH@CC) into a single-day event on April 8th. In the morning, Digital Scholarship Librarian Ashley Sanders provided an overview of Digital Humanities to faculty, staff, and graduate students in attendance at this new event which replaces last year’s Spring DH Symposium. The morning’s featured speakers were Occidental Center for Digital Liberal Arts Director Daniel Chamberlain and Music Assistant Professor Shanna Lorenz, who provided all in attendance a detailed set of examples from Occidental’s successful digital scholarship program. Wrapping up the morning were project reports from Claremont Colleges faculty, showcasing the ways in which technology is aiding research, writing, and publication at the colleges

The afternoon saw the first official activity in the new DH Studio on the 3rd floor of the Claremont Colleges Library. A Scalar workshop, provided by ANVC/Scalar Program Manager Curtis Fletcher, demonstrated the award winning publishing platform to new users and featured the first use of The Studio’s new 70-inch interactive display. The afternoon finished with a mixer, introducing faculty interested in DH methods to experts and resources at the Library and DH@CC.

With the success of DHarmony the growing Digital Humanities community at the Claremont Colleges looks forward to further activities that make up “DH Month” in April.

Apply for the 2016 Digital Humanities Summer Institute!, a collaborative project at The Claremont Colleges directed by Pitzer Prof. Gina Lamb”>The Summer Institute is an immersive, week long experience for faculty who are interested in learning more about what digital humanities is, understanding critical debates in and around digital humanities, and how to understand and use digital tools. There is a $1,000 stipend for attending. The 2016 DH Summer Institute will be held from May 23, 2016-May 27, 2016.

Throughout the week participants can expect a wide selection of presentations and hands-on sessions led by scholars working at the forefront of the digital humanities. Key topics at the symposium will include: discussions regarding the definition of the digital humanities and its uses, DH criticism, the advantages to infusing humanities courses with the digital, and controversies in the field. Hands-on sessions focused on getting started with tools such as Omeka, Scalar, video production and post production, mapping, and GIS.

Application is closed

The deadline to apply is Sunday, March 13, 2016.
Continue reading Apply for the 2016 Digital Humanities Summer Institute!

Apply for the 2016 Digital Course Development Grant Cycle!

As the DH@CC Mellon grant is focused largely on pedagogy, one of its major activities is Digital Course Development. The DH@CC initiative offers competitive Digital Course Development grants of $6,000 to 5C professors who will use the funds to develop or redesign courses that focus on or make use of digital tools. The grant cycles will take place over three years and result in a robust offering of up to 25 DH courses which will be taught at least twice during the life of the DH@CC Mellon grant.

Faculty who are awarded Digital Course Development grants may also apply for funds to hire undergraduate or graduate student assistants to collaborate with. With the help of the Honnold Library staff, students and faculty will together design and implement digital media projects that further enable their DH courses to succeed in the classroom.

Application is closed

The deadline to apply is Sunday, March 13, 2016.
Continue reading Apply for the 2016 Digital Course Development Grant Cycle!

Coming Soon: Tool Shed at the Honnold Library

Curious about Google Glass, Arduino, data visualization, or how to create multimedia projects? Wish to augment your technical knowledge when creating digital humanities projects? The Digital Tool Shed can help!

In addition to the makeover planned for the Digital Humanities Studio, the GIS Lab at the Honnold Library is going to be renovated over Summer, 2016, to provide an accessible, technology-rich, inviting space for the Claremont Colleges community to explore digital research tools. Experts in various technologies will be on hand to answer questions and provide tutorials, workshops, and consultations. This space will also available for professors, librarians, and graduate students to try out innovative pedagogy in a technology-rich active learning center, and it will provide the perfect showcase to present digital projects, unique primary sources, and more!

Conveniently located down the hall in the Library, the Tool Shed will be the primary partner facility of the Digital Humanities Studio for supporting multimedia-centered student and scholarly production. The Tool Shed will include flexible furniture, hardware, such as DSLR cameras & kits on loan, a “green screen”, post-production software, data analysis software, and a data visualization wall. Plans for an audio studio and oral history recording studio are also in the works.

Have questions? Please contact Ashley Sanders at

Scripps Humanities Institute 2016: Interventions and Resistance

Our colleagues at the Scripps College Humanities Institute have put together their 2016 program of lectures, performances, and workshops around the important topic of violence against races, classes, and genders in the U.S. From their site:

“As agents of greater change, they further the urgent and necessary work of dismantling systems of inequality and social injustice and provide us with pathway to how activism and social justice can better shape our world.”

The workshops are limited to Scripps students (with reservation required), but the rest are mostly free and open to the public. There will certainly a variety of content to stimulate potential digital projects for Claremont Colleges students and beyond. Full info at: