Project Requirements

Each student in the certificate program will develop a project that involves some kind of substantive design or implementation component. This project should use digital methods to address a significant research question in the student’s field of study, and should result in both a practical component and a written reflection. The practical component could take many different forms, including but not limited to:

  • A data set or digital collection (with or without an interface)
  • A prototype or wireframe
  • A program or set of scripts or processes for accomplishing or furthering some research activity
  • A game or interactive narrative
  • A schema or specification for a data set
  • A set of data analyses and/or visualizations.

Whatever the format, the project should constitute a meaningful experiment, prototype, or component that contributes to some scholarly research objective. The final project may also be an element of a larger project such as a PhD dissertation.

Projects will be approved by the DH Certificate committee. Students should prepare three components:

  • A project “artifact,” as described above. The artifact may be submitted (depending on format) by sharing a link with the committee, or by providing a copy of the artifact via an appropriate medium (such as USB drive, Dropbox, GitHub, or email attachment). The committee will review the artifact in its original format, not via printout or other indirect means. The artifact should include whatever instructions are necessary to use, interact with, or examine it for purposes of assessment.
  • A written project description. This should be a document of approximately 3,000 words to include: a description of the project itself; an account and justification of the methods, tools, data, standards, and other details of implementation; and a bibliography (including references to any tools and standards used).
  • A project presentation to the NULab community of approximately 15 minutes, followed by about 15 minutes of questions. Presentations should demonstrate the project, explain its methods and rationale, and situate the contribution of the project within a broader field. Presentations will generally be scheduled for early April; students may also count presentations that are not part of the formally scheduled sessions, provided that those presentations are at least 15 minutes long and have at least 2 NULab faculty members in attendance.

Example Projects

Angelenos Incarcerated: The LA County Jail Oral History Project

Joanne DeCaro, Spring 2017

Project Description: The LA County Jail Oral History Project aims to document the conditions, culture and recent history of the LA County jail system through the oral histories of former and current inmates. The  project wishes to create an opportunity to grant an authoritative voice to the literally disenfranchised minority of the former and current local inmate population in Los Angeles County. Five oral histories have been gathered from those who were incarcerated in one of the LA County jails from the 1980’s to present day. The project’s long-term goal is to collect 80 to 100 oral histories to form a representative sample of former and current inmates, taking into account factors such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.

The underlying philosophical goals of the project are to provide an opportunity for inmates and former inmates to create authoritative narratives of their experiences in the LA County jail system in a manner that supports inmates regaining and reimagining ownership of their life stories surrounding incarceration, and to foster dialogue and understanding with the inmate community and the general public.

View the full project here.

The Digital Atlas of Southern Memory

Caroline Klibanoff, Spring 2018

Project Description: In an era of fervent memorialization and contentious debates about who and what should be commemorated in the public sphere, the conversation has largely been limited to physical monuments such as statues, plaques and landmarks. These structures advance narrow cultural narratives about the past, require significant capital to establish, and allow for no interaction or annotation by the public. As a result, there is little opportunity for most Americans to participate in what gets remembered – and yet the hunger is there, visible in heated debates, defaced statues and renamed spaces cropping up in communities across the nation.

With a theoretical underpinning in collected memory studies and public history, the Digital Atlas of Southern Memory (DASM) presents a prototype for a platform that can enable broader participation in the commemoration process. It aims to be an engine for doing what public history, at its best, should do: meet modern, digital audiences where they are; help them connect with their own history, and awaken a curiosity—and usually, an opinion—about what they hope will be remembered.

View the full project here.

History Needs New Heroes

Megan Barney, Spring 2019

Project Description: History Needs New Heroes seeks to reveal who gets presented as a “hero” in high school American history textbooks from 1945 to the present. Through close reading and content analysis of three recently published textbooks, this project identifies missing voices. As a result, this project will write new narratives on American heroes that can inspire students to find stories that they can relate to in the present day.

View the full project here.

DEV 3D: A Historic Project Toolkit

Lauren Bergnes Sell, Spring 2019

Project Description: Downtown Boston, MA, is brimming with historic sites and artifacts, but many of them remain inaccessible for a litany of reasons. 3D Modeling and digitization of spaces and artifacts allow greater accessibility to these spaces and artifacts that may lie behind geographical, financial, and physical barriers. This project utilizes the 18th-century tombs located beneath The King’s Chapel as a case study for exploring the role of these new technologies within exhibits and interpretive themes.

With a theoretical foundation nested in Yi-Fu Tuan’s “Space and Place: Humanistic Perspective” and 3D modeling and Public History theory, Dev 3D hopes to provide early blueprints and case studies for creating and implementing 3D models in a variety of ways within a historic/cultural space. The prototype toolkit contains a list of software, tools, and methods for constructing simple 3D artifacts that can be used to create 3D printed models, Augmented Reality apps, or digital exhibits.

View the full project here.


Rat(io)s in the Walls (of Text): An H.P. Lovecraft Digital Humanities Portfolio

Kenneth Haley, Spring 2019

Project Description: In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and a reassessment of his place in American literary history. Once relegated to the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the past 20 years has seen Lovecraft’s work added to publishing lines such as The Library of America, Oxford World’s Classics, and the Penguin Classics line. Meanwhile, numerous “omnibus,” “definitive,” and “annotated” editions of his work have been released from various publishers. How and why has work that was published in a cheap, disposable format survived to this day and garnered such attention?

Rat(ios) in the Walls (of Text) attempts to examine the “how” portion of that question through the application of various tools developed as part of the growing field of the Digital Humanities.

View the full project here.

The Birth of Boston

Molly Nebiolo, Spring 2019

Project Description: It has been difficult to visualize Boston’s early history prior to the first map of the city in 1722. In the late nineteenth-century, Boston cartographer Samuel Chester Clough attempted to remedy this problem by crafting maps of Boston using inhabitant data found in The Book of Possessions, but never completed the project. “The Birth of Boston” is a twenty-first century attempt at reviving Clough’s venture into discerning what Boston looked like and who lived there during its settlement.

“The Birth of Boston” is an interactive webmap of colonial Boston that allows users to click on land parcels to learn about each inhabitant that lived there in 1648. Clough’s maps are the basis for the geographic information we have on the land ownership of settlers, but the second resource for this digital project comes from the Annie Haven Thwing collection. At the turn of the twentieth century, Thwing researched and created a corpus detailing the lives of over 50,000 Boston inhabitants from 1630 to 1822. This database of citizen information was used to give a “face” to the names that Clough has depicted on his map.

View the full project here.

Visualizing French Muslims

Colleen Nugent, Spring 2019

Project Description: This project provides a new layer of context to the study of Muslims in France, through digital maps of the the three French cities with at least 10% Muslim population. The laws regarding secularism in France, however, provided an immediate barrier to information, with a law from the late nineteenth century banning the collection of any data regarding race or religion. Therefore this project uses Islamic institutions, such as mosques, private Islamic schools, and halal restaurants and markets as a metric of potentially determining levels of assimilation. These maps also include the locations of public transportation stops, both buses and metro, with an assumption that accessibility to public transport can serve as an indicator of assimilation. For comparison, there is a comprehensive map that also depicts the locations of Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues.
View the full project here.

From Grateful Friends

Katie and Megan Woods, Spring 2019

Project Description: From Grateful Friends explores public memory, the ways in which a collective group remembers its past. This project’s central focus is a prototype of a map that shows the physical forms of public memory (memorials, markers, museums, and a cemetery) of World War II in Luxembourg. Luxembourgers and Americans have worked to record and preserve the stories of their shared history from this time, with their mutual feelings of gratitude still present today.

A work in progress, the map will continue to grow with the addition of new stories and sites of memory. The map is joined by other tools visitors may explore: a historical timeline, blog, and resources. Through these elements, From Grateful Friends celebrates the coming together of two countries in war and reminds us of the richness of international friendship and camaraderie.

View the full project here.