Repeating the pattern of convening that we created during Summer 2020, the NA+DAH community gathered in June 2021 for a week’s worth of online meetings to discuss past progress and plan for future results. The framing questions used by the Leadership Team to open and conclude this meeting–questions that offer direct insight into the topics and tenor of the convening–can be found below.
Along with time for project meetings, conversations on particular topics requested by the teams, and other working sessions, we were honored to welcome two fantastic keynotes as bookends to this week. On Monday, Kit Messick of the Getty Research Institute presented a talk on the “Social Networks in Archival Context” project. On Friday, Tim Tangherlini of UCLA–a long time collaborator and colleague of both Anne Helmreich and Scott Weingart–concluded the convening with a talk entitled, “Connecting the Dots: Perspectives on Future Work in Humanities Network Analysis.” We were particularly thrilled to welcome Tim as our final speaker not only because his talk helpfully opened up the conversation on network analysis and digital art history to future perspectives, but also because it was his 2010 NEH workshop on network analysis that so deeply engaged Anne Helmreich and Scott Weingart, two NA+DAH Leadership Team members, in the field. Tim’s work served as a foundation for this workshop, and we were excited to hear his thoughts on all that has happened in the field of humanities-focused network analysis since the early days of his own engagement.
Prior to this event, the teams had produced a 2-page document outlining their final deliverable for the workshop. These documents formed the basis for a great deal of discussion at that virtual event, and were helpful not only to get the teams thinking ahead of time, but they also obviated the need for project presentations so that the teams could use as much time as possible to talk to one another about their progress, plans, and goals for the final stretch of NA+DAH. Teams were again paired based on shared interests and goals, and placed in breakout sessions to discuss their goals with one another.
- Kit Messick, “Social Networks in Archival Context”
- In this talk, Messing offered the NA+DAH community time to focus on the concept of reducing “archival diasporas” using digital techniques. Social Networks in Archival Contaxt (SNAC) is a collection of archival name authorities with interconnected links between entities (creators, subjects, and collaborators) and their collections. It collocates archival materials by or about a specific entity across the country in multiple repositories. Messing provided provide some background on the SNAC project history over time, demonstrated how entities and collections are linked, and showed graphic representations of social networks in SNAC.
- Tim Tangherlini, “Connecting the Dots: Perspectives on Future Work in Humanities Network Analysis”
- Tim presented his experience in the fields of text and network analysis, suggesting that, as a community, the community of humanists using these techniques is in its “toddlerhood.” He then went on to present fascinating open challenges to the field including network extraction from humanities sources, integration of netwok analysis with other ocmputational methods for the study of heterogenous cultura data, and dynamic visualization techniques.
Kit Messick is Manager of Special Collections Cataloging and Processing, Getty Research Institute at J. Paul Getty Trust and a member of the SNAC Cooperative.
Timothy R. Tangherlini is a Professor in the Department of Scandinavian at the University of California, Berkely. A folklorist and ethnographer by training, he is the author of Danish Folktales, Legends and Other Stories (2014), Talking Trauma (1999), and Interpreting Legend (1994). He is interested in the circulation of stories on and across social networks, and the ways in which stories are used by individuals in their ongoing negotiation of ideology with the groups to which they belong. In general, his work focuses on computational approaches to problems in the study of folklore, literature and culture.
Framing Questions for this Final Convening
Guiding Questions for the Opening Conversation
- What are you most proud of with respect to their project? Where have you made the most progress? What distances have you traveled?
- What’s one thing you haven’t yet learned or found out about networks that you still want to know (i.e., what have we missed)? What is the greatest obstacle you see in completing the plan you submitted, and how can we help?
- What are you expecting to get out of this week? What would most help you feel this is worth your time?
- What common challenges and opportunities might the teams share, e.g. challenges of visualizing the nature of relationships? How might “birds of a feather” learn from one another?
Guiding Questions for the Closing Conversation
- How do you see network analysis fitting into larger scholarly projects? Knowing what you know now, what role can/does network analysis serve in humanities projects?
- How do you see yourself using network analysis going forward in your career (no matter your stage)? Or more generally, digital methods?
- You were originally invited to apply as teams to this Getty Advanced Workshop, and we created a learning community across the various projects through convenings, webinars. In our discussion on Thursday, we talked about collaborations with technologists, librarians/archivists, fellow humanists. Knowing what you know now, how might you approach collaboration in the future based on these experiences and reflections?
- What are your hopes for this community (and to some extent sub-field of NA+DAH) going forward?