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New lecture series spotlights digital mapping in the humanities

By Leslie King | Emory Report | Jan. 21, 2016

A new series on digital mapping and the humanities begins Monday, Jan. 25.

All talks will take place in the Woodruff Library Jones Room at 5.30 p.m.

The series, “MAP IT: Little Dots, Big Ideas,” will feature cutting-edge projects that provide the Emory community and the public ways to consider a variety of approaches to use geo-spatial analysis in the humanities.

Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi, assistant professor of art history, conceived of and designed the series.

“Through my participation at the Kress Summer Institute on Digital Mapping and Art History in August 2014 and at the Association of American Geographers annual meeting in April 2015, it became clear that digital mapping projects are time- and resource-intensive collaborative endeavors that if executed well, will transform methods and knowledge in the humanities,” says Gagliardi.

She also found that a "one-size-fits-all" model for collaborative digital projects is unlikely to be successful because different types of research questions require working with digital experts familiar with the particular research questions at hand — "stated differently, the same expert in geo-spatial analysis cannot equally develop expertise to address questions in two different areas, for example in public health and in the humanities," she explains.

“MAP IT | Little Dots, Big Ideas aims to address these two observations by bringing to campus scholars in the humanities at different stages of their careers who are engaged in digital mapping projects,” she adds.

Another goal of the series is to inspire people across campus and beyond to consider possibilities for initiating and realizing their own scholarly digital mapping projects.

The digital journal Southern Spaces will video record the first in the series, “Tracing The Arctic Regions: Mapping Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Greenland,” lecture and publish it online.

“The timing of these lectures and workshops happens to coincide with Southern Spaces’ call for articles and multi-media projects that demonstrate innovative scholarly digital work going on around the country,” says Allen Tullos, editor of Southern Spaces.

While Southern Spaces has as its main objective the study of real and imagined spaces and places of the U.S. South, “we also like to feature outstanding digital spatial projects wherever they might originate,” he says.

“‘Tracing The Arctic Regions’ is a great way to launch both Professor Gagliardi’s lecture series with its wonderful line-up of speakers and our Digital Spaces article series," Tullos says. "We hope to continue this collaboration with the other speakers  throughout the semester.”

The following lectures are scheduled:

• “Tracing The Arctic Regions: Mapping Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Greenland” by George Philip LeBourdais, Stanford University, on Monday, Jan. 25

• “Enchanting the Desert: Visualizing the Production of Space at the Grand Canyon” by Nicholas Bauch, Stanford University on Monday, Feb. 1

• “Seeing Sound: Mapping Florentine Soundscapes” by Niall Atkinson, University of Chicago, on Monday, Feb. 15

• “The Potential of Historical GIS and Spatial Analysis in the Humanities” by S. Wright Kennedy, Rice University, on Tuesday, March 1

• “Mapping the Commercial Gallery System in Nineteenth-Century London” by Pamela Fletcher, Bowdoin College, on Monday, March 28

• “A Modern Old Master? Using Historical GIS to Chart El Greco’s Influence on the French Avant-Garde” by Ellen Prokop, Frick Art Reference Library, on Monday, April 11

Co-sponsors include the Emory Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, Center for Digital Scholarship, Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry; and the Departments of Art History, Environmental Sciences, French and Italian, History, Sociology, and Spanish and Portuguese; the Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods; Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program; the Laney Graduate School New Thinkers/New Leaders Fund; and the Hightower Fund.