Digital Humanities Commons
Beginning in 2014, the Simpson Center will offer annual summer fellowships for faculty and doctoral students to pursue research projects that either use the affordances of the new digital technologies or explore the historical, social, and cross-cultural implications of digital cultures. Inspired by the value of open access, this annual program is called the Digital Humanities Commons. It has three primary goals:
- To animate knowledge—using rich media, dynamic databases, and visualization tools
- To circulate knowledge—among diverse publics
- To understand digital culture—historically, theoretically, aesthetically, and generatively
Beginning Fall 2013 and each fall thereafter, the Simpson Center will issue a call for proposals inviting UW faculty and graduate students working on their dissertations to apply either on an individual basis or in teams to the Digital Humanities Commons. Where research in the humanities is often undertaken by a single scholar, the Commons will enable faculty and graduate students to collaborate with each other on projects as well as with designers, information technologists, and librarians. In particular we encourage applications from people who are interested in using the multimodal platform Scalar, currently under development at the University of Southern California.
Up to eight scholars—four faculty and four doctoral students—will be selected; they will be required to be in residence for eight weeks during the summer and will meet periodically to share their research. In addition to summer salary, each person will have a research budget that can be used for expenses such as hourly support and software. For faculty, we anticipate offering $7,500 in summer salary and $2,500 as a research budget; for doctoral students, we anticipate offering $5,500 in summer salary and $1,250 as a research budget.
The Advisory and Selection Committee for the 2014 Digital Humanities Commons consists of Kirsten Foot (Communication), Tyler Fox (Information Technology), Ray Jonas (History), Ann Lally (Digital Initiatives, UW Libraries), Brian Reed (English), and Kathleen Woodward (Simpson Center).
For the past decade the Simpson Center has supported several major digital projects. They range from web-based archives of important regional historical material (see The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, led by James Gregory, History) to e-editions of canonical English literature (see the e-text of the A Version of the medieval poem Piers Plowman, edited by Míċeál Vaughan, English) and an interactive digital supplement to a print book (see Keywords in American Cultural Studies, co-edited by Bruce Burgett, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell). The Digital Humanities Commons represents an entirely new level in the Simpson Center’s sponsorship of digital scholarship.
The Digital Humanities Commons is funded in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant. In January 2009, the NEH awarded the Simpson Center a $625,000 Challenge Grant to support the digital humanities at the UW to be matched 3 to 1 by private donations. In 2010, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation gave $600,000 to underwrite the Digital Humanities Commons fundraising effort, and in February 2013, the Simpson Center met its goal of raising the required matching funds. The Digital Humanities Commons is supported by an endowment of $2.5 million.