Please evaluate THATCamp Jewish Studies

Thanks, all, for coming to THATCamp Jewish Studies, and particular thanks to Natasha Perlis for her help in putting it together and to Rona Sheramy for (among other things) getting us an extra projector at the last minute.

Please take half a minute to fill out an evaluation for THATCamp Jewish Studies — there are only two fields required: which THATCamp you went to and how useful you thought it was.

There’s space, of course, for you to say more, so feel free to wax loquacious. All evaluations are anonymous and are publicly available at http://j.mp/thatcampresults. Evaluations help future THATCamp organizers see what mistakes to avoid and help THATCamp funders judge whether it’s a worthy cause to support.

Enjoy the rest of AJS!

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Mediating Online Content and Countering Assumptions: An Exemplary Site

During Laura Leibman’s session on Jewish identity and the digital humanities, we discussed the potential of information technology, online content, and applications to either perpetuate or counter ideas about racial categories. When viewing films or using online archives, it is easy to assume that our students have context that is evident to us, when in fact they have not absorbed this context. In this post, I direct other participants to a site that is a promising example of how to address this issue. I mention the site because, this morning, several THATCamp participants (the majority of whom are scholars of Jewish studies) expressed interest in questions of memory, voice, and racial identity. As an English literature scholar who also works on Caribbean literature, I confront similar challenges of bringing together piecemeal information and “lost” voices, since West Indian and colonial American slaves’ “autobiographical” accounts were often mediated by white editors. Recently, I was impressed by the project of Cassandra Pybus, a professor of history at the University of Sydney. Her Web site is blackloyalist.info. It is an “online repository” for fragmentary items of information concerning individual black slaves who supported the British forces during the Revolutionary era and were liberated and evacuated in 1783. In her “About” section, she includes a column in which she explains “How Assumptions Are Made.” It enumerates different assumptions that researchers use in tracing kin relationships among slaves for whom genealogical information is limited or compromised. Using similar interfaces and categories, we can provide context for our students and general visitors to our online sites and content.

The site is:

http://www.blackloyalist.info/

If anyone would like further information on this, my e-mail address is nmwright@uchicago.edu

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Why is this THATCamp different from every other THATCamp?

I’d like to have a quick brainstorming session to collect (and share) ideas about the specific aspects of Digital Humanities that pertain to Jewish Studies. Are there any, or do they all fold under the general scope of the humanities?

I am interested at taking a hard look at content-specific resources; content-specific challenges (how relevant content is presented online); relevant practices and methodologies; language (and script) matters; instructional uses of social media; etc.

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Building online archives and exhibits with Omeka

I’ve taught many workshops on using Omeka, which is a tool for easily building online scholarly archives and exhibits, and I’d be more than happy to teach one or even two (Introduction and Advanced) workshops on it at THATCamp Jewish Studies. Here’s a couple examples of Omeka exhibits built at Denver University, one on the topic of “Pioneering Jewish Women of Colorado” and one on the topic of “The Loewenstein Family: A Story of Survival.”

Here’s a description (from an earlier workshop):

Omeka is a simple system used by scholarly archives, libraries, and museums all over the world to manage and describe digital images, audio files, videos, and texts; to put such digital objects online in a searchable databases; and to create attractive, customizable web exhibits from them. In this introduction to Omeka, you’ll create your own digital archive of images, audio, video, and texts that meets scholarly metadata standards and creates a search engine-optimized website. We’ll go over the difference between the hosted version of Omeka and the open source server-side version of Omeka, and we’ll learn about the Dublin Core metadata standard for describing digital objects.

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Sharing teaching and research tools

How about sharing those tools we find useful when teaching and researching?  It has become clear to me by reading people’s suggestions for panels, that I am not aware of all the tools people are using.  Come ready to share one tool with the rest of us!

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Categories: Session Proposals, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DigiBaeck and how to apply the assets

After 5 years of preparation, Leo Baeck Institute launched its digital archives, DigiBaeck, on October 16, to make fully accessible all of the documents and collections in the Archives pertaining to the German speaking Jewish world. I am curious to discuss and learn about possibilities of applying those holdings to the various branches of the educational field, how to reach out to different communities and to connect with similar or not so similar projects.

By digitizing the entire archive and not selectively prioritizing according to criteria of importance, the full spectrum of historical documentation can be explored and applied. In a world of constantly changing cultural paradigms, how do we anticipate usage of materials and exploration of topics? How can we recognize and integrate the needs of the different user constituencies?

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Categories: Archives, Digital Literacy, Open Access, Session Proposals | 1 Comment

Digital Mediums and Digital Literacies

I have become increasingly interested in three interrelated areas: 1) employing digital technologies in the classroom (iPads and Prezis); 2) utilizing digital spaces to open collaborative research projects (Comment Press); and 3) examining technology as a medium.  The relations among these three areas is somewhat obscure to me, but I sense an underlying concern with representation and exposure: how do particular technologies mediate content?  Using iPads in the classroom, for example, alters social dynamics even as it sustains a more vibrant syllabus—the technology mediates content in a way that both limits and expands.  Comment Press (a plugin for the popular WordPress blog platform) can support interactive collaborative work, but it enforces a form of navigation that I find both liberating and confining.  All this is to say that while I employ digital technologies to enhance my teaching and research, I am also increasingly aware of those technologies as digital mediums that represent images and texts in fascinating and frustrating ways.  I would like to think more about technology as a medium and the kinds of literacies we require to be more reflective users of it.

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Categories: Digital Literacy, Session Proposals, Session: Talk | 4 Comments

Making Jews in the Digital Humanities

I would like to propose a session in which THATCampers could discuss the relationship between Jewish Studies and recent debates about race and ethnicity in digital humanities.  I am particularly interested in talking about how certain platforms (digital archives, gaming, blogs, online genealogy sites, social media?) present either opportunities or pitfalls for thinking about the social construction of Jewishness.

On the positive side, I am curious about how digital humanities offers opportunities to discuss the boundaries of our discipline and who gets included and excluded from the rubric of “Jewish Studies.”  I mainly work, for example, on the Sephardic Diaspora in the Americas, so I tend to think about how scholarship can either reify or reject mythical views of authenticity of a “pure” Jewishness that is thought to have existed before the Sephardic displacement into the Americas or in medieval Iberia prior to forced conversions.  How might software (such as Omeka) that encourages visitor participation, for example, allow people visiting online archives to contest the definitions of either “Jews” or “Jewishness” in meaningful ways?  Likewise, how can we use online gaming to help raise questions about identity?  (Here I am thinking about games like Trading Races and AllLookSame.)  Does the digital world offer new ways to challenge students to think about the history of how Jews created their identities in relationship to and in dialogue with others?

I’d also like to talk about potential pitfalls of the digital world with respect to identity making.  To what extent extent are “charged assumptions” about race, ethnicity, or Jewishness replicated in either the digital world through systems, codes, or tools (See Koh Slide 31)?  How does digitizing Jews relate to larger debates about Race in the Digital Humanities and what it means to “digitize” race or ethnicity?

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Categories: Archives, Collaboration, Games, Museums, Session Proposals, Session: Talk, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Announcing THATCamp Jewish Studies

About

We are pleased to announce the first THATCamp Jewish Studies, to be held during the Association for Jewish Studies 44th Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois. THATCamp Jewish Studies will run from 9:00am-12:30pm on Sunday, December 16th at the Sheraton Chicago.  Registration is free if you are already registered for the AJS Annual Conference. Registration is $15 if you are not attending the AJS Conference.

What is a THATCamp?

THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It’s a small, informal meeting where humanists, social scientists, and technologists of all skill levels can explore issues related to Jewish Studies, technology, and digital media.  There are no formal presentations or prepared lectures; rather, THATCamp attendees create sessions, ideas, and collaborations on the spot and learn directly from one another.  Amanda French, THATCamp Coordinator and Research Assistant Professor at George Mason University, will assist participants with the session planning process both before and during THATCamp Jewish Studies.  Sessions topics may include any question, theme, or project related to Jewish Studies, technology, and digital media.  THATCamp is a project of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.  Learn more about THATCamps across the humanities by clicking here.

Who should attend?

You should attend if you are:

  • a Jewish Studies professor, graduate student, or independent scholar who is interested in or already using new technologies (social media, blogs, websites, text-mining programs, digital exhibits, etc.) in your classroom, research, or program building,
  • a librarian, archivist, or museum professional who would like to share or learn more about digital research or exhibit tools,
  • anyone with an interest in Jewish Studies and technology, such as social media; blogs; digital research tools; online publishing; digital teaching tools; crowdsourcing and so much more!

Where’s the schedule?

The schedule for THATCamp Jewish Studies is decided upon entirely by attendees, through a collaborative online process.  Sessions can be proposed by anyone, whatever your skill or experience level and topics can range from introductory to highly technical.  Participants will make suggestions and discuss their ideas online before the meeting and then the schedule and topics will be finalized at a brief gathering at 9am on December 16th.

What should I propose?

That’s completely up to you.  See the list of sample sessions at http://thatcamp.org/go/proposals/ for some ideas.  Discussion topics can include anything from how to use social media to promote your institution’s Jewish Studies program, to how to set up a course blog that will help promote discussion among your students,  to a discussion on using digital research tools to keep track of references, images, documents etc.

How do I sign up?

Registration for THATCamp Jewish Studies is now open – just complete the registration form!

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