Public Launch of Digital Portobelo

Renee Alexander Craft, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Curriculum in Global Studies, and one of two inaugural DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows, publicly launched her digital humanities project, Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation. This collaborative project was built with the Digital Innovation Lab using DH Press.

Renee Alexander CraftThe project was unveiled at a two-part lecture/presentation, “The Devil is in the Details: Engaged Qualitative Research and the Digital Humanities.” This launch event focused on the “front stage” and “behind the scenes” processes that created Digital Portobelo, an interactive online collection of ethnographic interviews, photos, videos, artwork, and archival material that illuminate the rich culture and history of Portobelo — a small town located on the Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama best known for its Spanish colonial heritage, its centuries old Black Christ festival, and an Afro-Latin community who call themselves and their cultural performance tradition “Congo.”

In the first part of the event, Alexander Craft talked about how she came to study Portobelo, how her research has evolved over time, and how she developed the digital project in tandem with her monograph, When the Devil Knocks: The Congo Tradition and the Politics of Blackness in 20th Century Panama. She shared triumphs and challenges, and stressed the deeply collaborative nature of her work.

In the second part, Pam Lach, Project Manager for Digital Portobelo, deconstructed the project, revealing the processes and workflows developed to create the project. Her PowerPoint, along with all additional resources for those interested in creating similar digital oral history projects, is available at

This project received support through an inaugural Digital Innovation Lab/Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship, a program of the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, which is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Check out Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation!

Michael Newton Receives Saltire Award

Newtown recieved Saltire AwardDIL/CDHI Technology Lead Michael Newton is the inaugural recipient of St. Andrews University Scottish Heritage Center’s Saltire Award for “outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Scottish history and culture.” The Scottish Heritage Symposium marks its 25th year convening in Laurinburg, North Carolina, the site of the largest settlement of Scottish Highland immigrants in eighteenth-century North America.

This award recognizes Dr. Newton’s innovative and prolific research in the field of Scottish Studies. His latest book, The Naughty Little Book of Gaelic, was also launched at the Scottish Heritage Symposium. The book is the first detailed discussion of “adult” texts in Gaelic.

Read more:  BBC  |  Herald News

Seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Digital Humanities

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks to fill a twelve-month post-doctoral fellowship position in public digital humanities. This fellowship is a part of the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, which is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This fellowship is hosted by the UNC Digital Innovation Lab, which is administered through the Department of American Studies. The initial appointment will be for a period of 12 months. Continuation of the position for a second year is possible, contingent upon available funding.

The fellow will serve as the UNC-Chapel Hill Scholar in Residence for the History Center in the renovated and restored Loray Mill complex in Gastonia, North Carolina. This iconic structure — the largest textile mill in the South when it opened in 1902 — will reopen in the summer of 2014 as a 450,000 square foot residential (300 apartments), commercial, and retail hub for this city of 72,000 (20 miles from Charlotte, NC), which was once the center of textile manufacturing in the state. Both the mill and the surrounding 30-block mill village are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Responsibilities of this position include:

  • working with the staff of the Digital Innovation Lab to develop and deploy (on-site and online) the Loray Digital Archive: an online, multi-media, digital archive of materials relating to the social, cultural, and economic history of the mill, the mill village, and the wider community
  • working with the Gaston County Museum of Art and History, the Gaston County Public Library, other community organizations, and property managers to develop, execute, and evaluate public programming designed to engage residents, visitors, and community members with the history of the mill and the village
  • conducting original research on the history of the mill and its community, and disseminating research findings through digital and non-digital forms to academic and non-academic audiences
  • working with members of the community to recover and document their family histories and connections with the mill and the mill village
  • working with community partners and the DIL, to develop and execute a summer (2015) field experience in digital public humanities, based in the History Center
  • working with community partners and the DIL to incorporate community-contributed materials and oral history interviews into the Loray Digital Archive
  • teach or co-teach (with a UNC faculty member) a graduate level course in digital public humanities spring semester 2015.

The fellow will be based in Gastonia, but will be expected to spend some time each month in Chapel Hill on a schedule to be worked out with the Director of the Digital Innovation Lab.

The fellowship carries an annual stipend of $45,000 (plus benefits). The position is supported by a $5,000 fund for research, programming, travel and other costs. The start date for the position is negotiable between August 1 and October 1, 2014.

Further information regarding the mill renovation, the planned history center, and the Loray Digital Archive is available here.

For more information about the position, or to apply online, visit

2014 DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows Announced

The Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, the Digital Innovation Lab and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities are pleased to announce the 2014 recipients of the DIL/IAH Faculty Fellowship in Digital Humanities:  Lucia Binotti, Professor of Spanish, and Anne MacNeil, Associate Professor of Music.

Part of the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, the DIL/IAH Faculty Fellowship allows outstanding faculty at all ranks to explore the possibilities of digital humanities for extending their research, teaching, and engagement with audiences beyond the university. These fellowships encourage research at the intersection of traditional and engaged scholarship, the effective use of digital technologies in research and teaching, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Binotti and MacNeil will work with the Digital Innovation Lab to create and launch their own digital humanities projects by December 2014. The fellowship provides $15,000 in project funds, as well as a course release in the fall semester, and in-kind project management and technical development support from the Digital Innovation Lab.

Lucia Binotti: How Do You Say It?

Lucia BinottiA Professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Lucia Binotti holds a PhD in Hispanic Renaissance Languages from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She earned her M.A. in Romance Philology from the Università degli Studi (Pisa).

Binotti’s research crosses the borders between literary criticism and cultural history. Her work focuses on Renaissance material and cultural history, and on the mechanisms that construct linguistic and cultural identity. She has worked on linguistic theories on the origin and development of the vernaculars, on the establishment of historiography as a discipline, and on the strategies that were used to synthesize the civic values of the Renaissance into the ideological tenets of the Spanish Empire. Her new book project analyzes the discourses and rituals that constituted illicit, transgressive sexuality among early modern Spanish elites.

Binotti comes to the digital humanities through her collaboration on a previous project, Gnovis: Flowing through the Galaxy of Knowledge, which was awarded a NEH Digital Startup Grant in 2011. Gnovis was envisioned as a navigation engine that would allow users to visualize semantic relationships between entities by diffusing traditional and rigidly enforced boundaries among humanities disciplines, allowing the user to visualize connections between subjects and across disciplines that would otherwise not be immediately apparent. Binotti was an early adopter of DH Press, testing it in her Honors Study Abroad in Rome last year, and she plans to use it again this summer.

Binotti’s fellowship project, How Do You Say It?, is an interdisciplinary and community service oriented project, in collaboration with Professor Cynthia Rizo of the School of Social Work at UNC. The project aims to deploy DH Press to crowd source, layer, map and visualize information about varieties of the Spanish language used to address Latino/a audiences when discussing the prevention of intimate partner violence. The project’s ultimate goal is to assess whether the choice of different varieties of Spanish targeted more specifically to a local sub-group of the larger Latino/a community might increase the success and effectiveness of textual literature (brochures, signs, advertisements) as well as spoken interactions (from support services, doctors, social workers, etc.) in preventing and educating about domestic violence. As Binotti explains, “The project’s results will have direct impact on the development of culturally appropriate interventions for this vulnerable population of survivors.”

Anne MacNeil: POPP: Parsing Ottaviano Petrucci’s Prints

Anne MacNeilAn Associate Professor in the Department of Music, Anne MacNeil holds a PhD in the History and Theory of Music from the University of Chicago. She earned an MA in Music History from the Eastman School of Music and a BMus from Ithaca College.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MacNeil taught at Northwestern University and the University of Texas at Austin. Her areas of specialization include music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, music and spectacle, commedia dell’arte, opera, performance studies and historiography. Her current research encompasses the use of boats, barges, and waterways as venues for music performance and as modes of travel, especially for noble women, to entertainments in and around Renaissance Mantua; early-modern laments; operatic settings of tales of the Trojan Wars; and the intersections of music, ceremony, and biography in the lives of Margherita Farnese and Eleonora de’ Medici.

MacNeil’s fellowship project grows out of her work on IDEA: Isabella d’Este Archive. This continually evolving project is an interactive, interdisciplinary research and learning environment for scholars, students, educators, and the general public around the world. Taking as its inspiration and focus one of the most influential figures of the Italian Renaissance, Isabella d’Este (1474-1539), IDEA offers new ways to explore the history and culture of early modern Europe. IDEA’s primary materials are Isabella’s letters, music, and art collections, as they evolved during her reign as the marchesa of Mantua. These resources map a world where politics, art, music, family life, business, and social relations intertwined, prior to the modern separation of many of these concerns into separate spheres.

MacNeil’s fellowship project, POPP: Parsing Ottaviano Petrucci’s Prints, is the first music project for the IDEA environment. As MacNeil wrote in her proposal, in the typical transcription of Renaissance music, something is often lost, since modern music notation “imposes a uniformity of spacing, metric accents, and text underlay that are foreign to early modern music.” With this project, MacNeil aims to “develop a digital program for working with sixteenth-century printed music that bypasses transcription entirely and thereby preserves the metric quality and independence of parts that characterize this music in its original sources.”  She believes this will lead to a deeper understanding of the compositional techniques, theories, character, and practices of Renaissance music. Additionally, this will provide insight into the interactions between emerging print technologies and humanistic conceptions of music and music-making in early modern Europe.

MacNeil will work with the Image and Spatial Data Analysis Division of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Together, and in collaboration with the Digital Innovation Lab, they will design a prototype tool to engage with the metric structures of Renaissance music; to reveal patterns of musical gestures and suggestions of performance practices that are obscured by modern notation; and to apply, by automated process, heuristics developed from contemporary music theory treatises to the analysis of scores created by Ottaviano Petrucci, the first music printer. This tool will allow students and scholars to manipulate Petrucci’s scores visually in order to see and hear interactions among the parts, to explore differences between modal and tonal behaviors in the music, and to see analytical concepts derived from contemporary music theorists in action. This project will benefit a wide audience, including undergraduate and graduate students, music historians and theorists, and non-specialists in diverse humanistic fields.

MacNeil was also recently awarded an ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship for Mapping Secrets, another project connected to IDEA. Mapping Secrets will develop a tool for mapping networks of secretarial practices and administrative recordkeeping in the act of letter writing, using the notes, drafts, copies, and letters from the archive of Isabella d’Este. MacNeil begins this fellowship January 2015.

DIL Collaborates in Development of Loray Mill Digital Archive and History Center

"Firestone Cotton Mills, Gastonia, N.C." n North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

“Firestone Cotton Mills, Gastonia, N.C.” in North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

The Digital Innovation Lab is partnering with the Gaston County Museum of Art & History and the Gaston County Public Library to help develop a public history center and digital archive for the Loray Mill Redevelopment Project in Gastonia, N.C. The mill was once the largest textile mill in the South, and was the site of Gastonia’s bloody 1929 labor strike. Firestone took over the mill in the 1930s, where the company manufactured tire cord until 1993.

Efforts to redevelop the 600,000-square-foot, 110-year-old building began in April 2013 and are expected to be completed this summer. The redeveloped space will be mixed-use, with commercial and event space as well as residential space.

The developers have set aside prominent space for the creation of a history center. The DIL is already hard at work creating a DH Press project that maps the residents of the 1920 Mill Village. Learn more about what the DIL is doing.

DIL’s Lebanese Migration Project Opens at Museum of History

Mapping Early NC Lebanese HouseholdsThe Digital Innovation Lab has created a new project which opens February 22 at the North Carolina Museum of History as part of the “Cedars in the Pines – The Lebanese in North Carolina: 130 Years of History” exhibit. Mapping Early NC Lebanese Households uses DH Press to visualize Lebanese households in select North Carolina cities from 1900 to 1930, allowing visitors to explore the geography of Lebanese communities and learn more about Lebanese immigrants, their families, and others — such as boarders — with whom they lived. Additional features — including Household Spotlights — delve deeper into the stories of particular families, providing narratives of their experiences as immigrants in North Carolina in the early twentieth century.

Mapping Early NC Lebanese Households was created in collaboration with the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies at North Carolina State University and RENCI. It is both a website and an interactive digital component of the “Cedar in the Pines” exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. The exhibit will from from February 22, 2014 through August 31, 2014.

Special thanks to everyone who made this possible, especially:
Stephanie Barnwell, Project Manager
Joe Hope (RENCI), Web Developer
Michael Newton, DH Press Lead Developer
And all of our undergraduate and graduate practicum students who have contributed to the project over the years.

Check out the digital project |  Learn more about the exhibit

Postscript: The project team was on hand for the Opening Reception on Friday, February 21. We had the opportunity to talk to members of the Lebanese-American community, guide them through the project, and help them find their ancestors among the many maps in our project. It was an incredible honor to be included in the evening, and we learned a lot about how to make the project even better.


DH Press Recognized in the 2013 DH Awards

I am thrilled to announce that DH Press came in as Second Runner Up in the “Best DH Tool or Suite of Tools” category for the 2013 Digital Humanities Awards. 511 votes were cast in our favor. This public recognition reflects the hard work and dedication of the entire DH Press Team, past and present, without whom the we would not have gotten this far.

DH Press Project Team
Project Manager: Pam Lach
Developers: Joe Hope (RENCI), Michael Newton (DIL/CDHI)
Current Project Team: Stephanie Barnwell
Past Members of Project Team: Jade Davis, Bryan Gaston, Chien-Yi Hou, with contributions from Joe Ryan (ITS Research Computing)
DIL Director: Robert Allen

And a big thanks to our Clients and Partners: Renee Alexander Craft (Communication Studies and DIL/IAH Faculty Fellow), Seth Kotch (Southern Oral History Program), Michelle Robinson (American Studies), Anne Whisnant (History/American Studies), and the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies at NCSU. Check out their projects!

Look for more good things to come with the upcoming release of DH Press 2.0!

DIL-linked First Year Seminar featured on UNC Homepage

DIL Director Robert C. Allen’s First Year Seminar, AMST 53H: The Family and Social Change in America, was featured on the UNC Homepage this week. This DIL-linked undergraduate course is the first on campus to take advantage of newly-digitized pre-1923 newspapers from the North Carolina Collection, digitized in partnership with and

This offering of the course is the first to fully incorporate the methods and materials of digital history in the teaching of and learning about family history, and the first to use the digital resources developed for genealogical research as a way of documenting and illuminating the experience of other families, particularly those who have lived in North Carolina since the mid-19th century.

Read the full article.

Michael Newton Joins DIL/CDHI as Technology Lead

The Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative and the Digital Innovation Lab are pleased to welcome Michael Newton to our team as the Technology Lead.

Michael Newton comes to digital humanities work with strong qualifications in both information technology and the humanities. Newton graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Computer Science, which he earned while working at a popular computer game company. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and has published extensively in that field. In 2007 he was awarded a Digital Humanities Initiative grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a digital collaboratory for Celtic Studies which was hosted for several years by iBiblio.

As the Technology Lead, Newton will use his experience in information technology and the humanities to provide technological support for a wide range of digital humanities projects. We are thrilled to have him as a member of our team.