Directors: Drs. Richard Lane and Daniel Burgoyne

Summary

The MeTA Digital Humanities lab is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and VIU’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities. In the first phase of the lab’s operations, media and text relationships were explored, as well as the development of a prototype online database application called the Media Text Assemblage. In the lab’s second and current phase of operations, the primary focus is on Big Data Analysis for Humanistic Research. The lab also develops innovative ways of utilizing digital tools for exploring arts and humanities research questions. Faculty and students are trained in transferable digital skills, such as coding and text encoding, and we facilitate transdisciplinary research within a digital laboratory environment. Current members of the lab are VIU professors in English Richard J. Lane, Daniel Burgoyne, Sally Carpentier, and Ian Whitehouse, as well as Professor Sasha Koebler (Music) and Professor Frank LoPinto (Computer Science). Student members and/or supported researchers include: Jordan Day, Lyndsay Church, Megan Wolfe and Zoe McKenna. Recent events include research seminars on Machine Learning & Topic Modelling, and Research Applications for Machine Learning, both examining interdisciplinary crossovers between the humanities and computer science with participants from VIU’s Science, Computer Science, and various Arts and Humanities departments. The research project Big Data in the Humanities: Understanding Literary Tradition and the Canon through the Application of Deep Data is also situated in the lab, with a related research seminar series under way involving VIU undergraduates and faculty. A major project supported by the MeTA DH Lab and directed by VIU Computer Scientist Frank LoPinto, is called the Pixelstream Communications Project, delivering educational web content via TV/cable to remote or impoverished communities, currently being trialled with VIU Powell River. Research outputs include two books: Doing Digital Humanities, and The Big Humanities: Digital Laboratories/Digital Humanities (2017); peer reviewed essays were published in Scholarly and Research Communication. Other activities include a digitally recorded interview with Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke. Curriculum development that emerged from the lab are two new undergraduate courses in digital humanities.

MeTA DH Lab 2018 — Projects 

We develop innovative ways of utilizing digital tools for exploring arts and humanities research questions. Faculty and students are trained in transferable digital skills, such as coding and text encoding, and we facilitate transdisciplinary research within a digital laboratory environment. We collaborate with other digital humanities research centres and groups in Canada (with our main partners being ETCL, DHSI and INKE at UVic) and we undertake collaborative research projects, e.g., the current INKE SSHRC application.

We are currently aligning our research with the SSHRC Future Challenge goal five:

  • How can emerging technologies be leveraged to benefit Canadians?  & 5E:
  • How might Canadians be affected by new developments in “big data,” data analytics and information management?

Current Projects (Examples):

1.         Interdisciplinary research with VIU Computer Scientist Frank LoPinto:

Pixelstream Communications Project delivering educational web content via TV/cable to remote or impoverished communities; trial with Powell River; technology and space for student researcher/intern provided by MeTA DH Lab

2.         Supporting PhD research for Music Professor Sasha Koebler, who accesses Music software in the MeTA DH Lab as well as utilizing research infrastructure and space.

3.         (Machine) Reading One Million Texts: Technological Innovation through Topic Modelling in the Digital Humanities — digital humanities project lead by Professor Lane, involving interdisciplinary research, other profs/students/etc.  The FOCUS is humanistic BIG DATA. Second sub-project here is: Big Data in the Humanities: Understanding Literary Tradition and the Canon through the Application of Deep Data

4.         Integrating Open Source Digital Humanities Research Tools Into The Humanities Curriculum — digital humanities project lead by Professor Lane, in its second full year.

WE SUPPORT up to five fully funded students/faculty per year to attend the intensive DH research and training Digital Humanities Summer Institute at UVic.  WE SUPPORT student and faculty research through providing specialist software, such as the Oygen XML Editor; the MALLET machine learning language; and the Women Writers Online digital research library.

We HOLD research seminars, e.g., forthcoming Machine Learning & Topic Modelling: Interdisciplinary Crossovers between the Humanities and Computer Science; last year: literary influence & the digital humanities—developing research questions and humanities computing methodologies.

OUTPUTS include: two books (Doing Digital Humanities & The Big Humanities: Digital Laboratories/Digital Humanities (2017); peer reviewed essays were published in Scholarly and Research Communication.  Other activities undertaken in the MeTA DH Lab include a digitally recorded interview with Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke.  Curriculum development that emerged from the lab included two new undergraduate courses in digital humanities. 

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