Distant reading. . .

Task:  Write a short post, considering how distant reading might apply to your individual projects.

Right now I don’t see distant reading connecting to my churchscape project as it currently stands.  I see potential for distant reading with other work I’m doing, but I am painfully aware that I don’t have good useable data with which to work.  That’s my current stumbling block.  Existing bodies of digital materials in good shape for text mining don’t relate very directly to my research interests.  And the task of creating such bodies of material on my own seems quite daunting.  Perhaps more feasible as a collaborative effort with other scholars in my field?

Thoughts on non-textual sources

Music:  While I have used music in my teaching for at least one class period in most of my classes each semester, Mike O’Malley’s presentations provided some new tools and ideas for providing more sophisticated and frequent work with sound.  I will definitely use the national jukebox in my US survey class.  The idea of the genealogy of a song for an assignment is one I will also likely utilize in a class this coming semester.

Film:  I attempted my first class film assignment last year with mixed results.  The tools we examined and practiced (a bit) today give me more confidence and some new ideas for continuing with such assignments.  For example, the students and I spent considerable time locating open-license appropriate music tracks for their films, never thinking of the possibility of creating our own tracks in Garage Band.

I like the idea of either replacing a traditional research paper with a film (as a publicly available digital history project), or offering it as an option for students.  Our work was encouraging and made me feel less concerned about students spending more time on mastering technology than on research, analysis, and interpretation.  I still feel some concern about the fact that my students use a mix of macs and pcs, and I don’t feel very confident using the basic windows movie-making tools.

Scalar:  This was the most challenging tool for me today.  It was interesting to look at and hear Celeste talk about, but I’m struggling with how I would use it or when I might suggest that it is appropriate for my students.

Churchscape: Clay County, MN

In this project I plan to develop a website examining the churchscape of Clay County, Minnesota.  The concept of churchscape includes considering not only the physical church structures/houses ofworship, but also the social, cultural, political and economic significance of the communities who worshipped there.I hope to begin by mapping locations of church buildings in the county over time from the early settlement years (1870s) to the present. I would also like to include the following components:

  •  Map layers that showing change over time in the locations and number (density) of churches.
  • I would like viewers to be able to click locations and learn more about the buildings and congregations there (through text and/or primary source images, documents).
  • Ability for viewers to contribute their own images, recollections, and/or documents to the site, or to allow me to digitize materials for inclusion on the site.

It may be more realistic to begin with a particular denomination or time period that would be valuable on its own (Lutheran chSkree Township Plat Map excerpt, 1909urches, nineteenth century churches. . . . ), but would also provide a model when seeking funding to develop the project on a larger scope?