Announcing NINES Scholarships for DHSI 2014

The Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria provides an ideal environment for discussing and learning about new computing technologies and how they are influencing teaching, research, dissemination, and preservation in different disciplines.

As a sponsor for the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) 2014, NINES is offering five tuition-free slots to scholars of nineteenth-century literature and culture interested in the digital humanities. Early registration for tuition at DHSI usually costs $950 (student rate $500).

Anticipated course offerings for this year’s workshop (June 2-6) include:

  • Text Encoding Fundamentals and their Application
  • Digitisation Fundamentals and their Application
  • Fundamentals of Programming/Coding for Human(s|ists)
  • Understanding the Pre-Digital Book
  • DH For Department Chairs and Deans
  • Advanced TEI Concepts
  • TEI Customization
  • A Collaborative Approach to XSLT
  • Electronic Literature in the Digital Humanities: Research and Practice
  • Feminist Digital Humanities: Theoretical, Social, and Material Engagements
  • Geographical Information Systems in the Digital Humanities
  • Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities
  • Physical Computing and Desktop Fabrication for Humanists
  • Augmented Reality: An Introduction
  • The Sound of Digital Humanities :: Sound in the Digital Humanities
  • Visual Design for Digital Humanists
  • Cultural Codes and Protocols for Indigenous Digital Heritage Management
  • Digital Humanities Databases
  • Data, Math, Visualization, and Interpretation of Networks: An Introduction
  • Understanding Topic Modeling
  • RDF and Linked Open Data
  • Drupal for Digital Humanities Projects
  • Out-of-the-Box Text Analysis for the Digital Humanities
  • Games for Digital Humanists
  • Conceptualising and Creating a Digital Documentary Edition
  • CWRCShop
  • ARC, or the Advanced Research Consortium

More information about these courses, and the Summer Institute itself, can be found at the DHSI website.


Send a 1-2 page description of your research interests, their relationship to digital technologies and your reasons for wanting to attend the DHSI summer school to by October 15th, 2013.


New Peer-Reviewed Resource: Ruskin at Walkley

Ruskin at Walkley

NINES is pleased to announce the newest addition to our esteemed group of peer-reviewed resources: Ruskin at Walkley. Congratulations to Project Leader Dr. Marcus Waithe, Matthew Groves, and the entire Ruskin at Walkley team! The project reconnects the Ruskin Collection at Sheffield with its original physical setting in a cottage in the Sheffield suburb of Walkley. In the process, the work reconstructs the physical experience of navigating through the St. George’s Museum by taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital form.

You can browse and search the new resources in NINES via this search. Be sure to head over to the site itself and explore its many treasures for a dynamic journey into the past.

Image of the Week: Cats and Monkeys


Today’s image of the week comes to us from The Poetess Archive. Entitled The Cat’s Paw, the image appears in Forget Me Not, A Christmas and New Year’s Present for 1831. Created by artist Robert Graves and engraver Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, the piece depicts a monkey using a cat’s paw to push what appear to be hot chestnuts into a fire. Fear not: as pained as the cat appears to be, a gang of kittens lurks nearby, ready to pounce and save their friend.

Back to School


For many of us, the beginning of the school year is just around the corner. In honor of the occasion, please enjoy an image of the week that comes to us from The William Blake Archive“The School Boy” from Blake’s Songs of Innocence. Here is hoping that the upcoming schooldays hold more joy you than they do for the speaker of the poem!

Image of the Week


This image of the week comes to us from The Yellow Nineties Online. Aubrey Beardsley’s illustration here graced the front cover of volume 3 of The Yellow Book: An Illustrated Quarterly, published on October 3, 1894.

Image of the Week

The Valley of the Shadow of Death Radiolab recently re-aired an episode that featured this 1855 photo from the LOC’s collection of Roger Fenton’s Crimean War photographs. As the Radiolab post describes, “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” is at the center of ongoing debates about “truth” and photography. Was the photograph staged? Did Fenton move the cannonballs onto the road?

Image of the Week


In celebration of the first days of August, please enjoy this image of the week, which comes to us via The Willa Cather Archive. Titled “Sailors in Vallejo,” the photograph’s source is the George Cather Ray Collection from Archives and Special Collections at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. Included in a letter dated August 12, 1908 from G.P. Cather to his mother Franc Cather, the image depicts two sailors in a park in Vallejo, California.

Image of the Week: New Arrivals

New York Arrives 8/9/14

In honor of my new arrival here at NINES, please enjoy an image of the week that celebrates all things new and in movement. The photograph above, “New York Arrives,” shows the U.S.S. City of New York and comes from the George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.

Updating Metadata

It’s official: we at NINES are revising the genre lists we use for our RDF.

The original impetus for this change was a thought-provoking ARC meeting we attended a few months ago, in which we discussed expanding Collex to include several new nodes—MESA, REKn, ModNets—which will aggregate digital objects from the medieval, Renaissance, and Modernist periods, respectively.  Once we began to consider objects outside the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we found that a many of our genre tags became unhelpful or even irrelevant.  How, for example, could we call a manuscript a descriptive generic term, when such a large portion of the text-based medieval objects would be in manuscript form?  Would such a term be useful any longer? What about genres like “family life,” “life writing,” and “ephemera”?  How were we defining these terms and could we sustain a consistent definition across time periods?

These questions led me to wonder, in a more abstract sense, about how and why we use metadata at NINES.  Every time we aggregate a new collection of digital objects, we append to each piece several descriptive elements, so-called data about data.  These elements allow us to preserve certain characteristics about each object—its form, its subject, its applications, etc.  Tagging such elements also allows us to catalogue and search for items by group or type from among the ever-growing collection.  (It would, after all, be difficult to sift through 992,000 digital objects without any sort of filtering system.)  It also gives us a sense of what NINES can make available to our users, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of our various collections.  At the moment, for example, we offer our users 17,869 objects on the subject of “Education,” but only 196 on “Architecture.”

The danger, however, is that tagging an object allows us to preserve only some of its characteristics.  Those that we do not tag we implicitly dismiss as “less important.”  We create our list of genre elements with care, but we cannot anticipate every eventuality.  In many instances, we will undoubtedly fail to prize important elements, which will then be lost in the shuffle.

What’s more, in separating and delineating the objects available to readers, we also make judgments about the users viewing them.  Every time we choose to tag something as “Education” or “Architecture,” we surmise not only about what that object represents, but also about the person to whom that object will be helpful.  Someone working on a project about education, for instance, will likely not search through the “Architecture” genre.  As aggregators, though, we cannot know how different projects will employ individual objects.  By tagging the objects ourselves and at our own discretion, we potentially limit not only their meanings, but also their applications.  We can, of course, tag a particular digital object in several different ways, but the crux of the issue remains: by making judgments about the nature and meaning of the digital objects in these collections, we influence the way our users view and interact with those same objects.

Now, as we go about reconsidering our metadata for NINES and for the other ARC nodes, we have an opportunity not only to reconsider the objects in our archives, but the way we want viewers to study them.  If we can change our genre elements, how will that change the way others’ view them?  How can we create the best system to maintain a well-categorized, well-differentiated collection of objects while still allowing our users the freedom to make their own choices about their purpose and implications?