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Faculty and Students Join the DHSI Learning Community

June 09, 2014

In June 2014, members of the English Department attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) at the University of Victoria. "The whole DHSI experience was generous and actively intelligent,” declared Ryerson instructor Aaron Tucker, “I'm looking forward to working with a number of the people I met on the trip." Aaron was joined by faculty Jason Boyd, Dennis Denisoff, and Andrew O’Malley, as well as graduate students Alison Hedley (Communication and Culture) and Chelsea Miya (Literatures of Modernity). A recent graduate, Chelsea will be continuing her studies in the PhD program in English at the University of Alberta this September.

The DHSI adopts a community-based approach in providing opportunities for the exploration of a range of computing technologies and the discussion of the digital humanities in research, teaching, and creative production. Over the five days of the summer institute, Ryerson attendees took a range of intensive courses from “Games for Digital Humanists” to the more specialized “A Collaborative Approach to XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations)” and “Advanced TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) Concepts.” In addition to the classes, readings, and homework that are part of the courses, attendees could attend unconference sessions, plenary talks, and “Birds of a Feather” debates.

Ryerson attendee Andrew O’Malley observes that, in addition to the benefits of his course in “Digitisation Fundamentals,” “at least as productive was just being in an environment where everybody is thinking and talking about creative ways to use digital technologies in their research and in their classrooms.” PhD student Alison Hedley agrees, adding "importantly, I'm now conversant enough in [XSLT] that I know how to ask questions of the experts when I'm stuck!"

In addition to taking courses, Ryerson attendees found various other ways to participate. Jason Boyd led an “Introduction to Digital Humanities” and co-led an "Introduction to Project Management" workshop for DHSI@Congress at Brock University in May. At the DHSI Colloquium, Alison presented “The Yellow Nineties Personography,” a project developed over the past year by Alison and Dennis Hogan (a graduate student in the Literatures of Modernity program who will take up his PhD at Brown University this fall). At a reading prompted by the inaugural "Introduction to Electronic Literature in DH: Research and Practice" course, Aaron Tucker gave a demonstration of and reading from his “Chessbard” project, developed here at Ryerson.

These examples reflect the DHSI’s and Ryerson’s interest in attendees not simply taking in the offerings, but contributing to the intellectual dynamism and collegiality of the event and the international DH community. The English Department attendees thank the office of the Provost Mohamed Lachemi for making this experience and training possible, through the Centre for Digital Humanities.