Throughout March, SEASR and I-CHASS hosted humanities and social sciences research teams selected for their diversity of approach and interest:

Global Middle Ages: “Global middle ages” is a term in Medieval Studies that designates an interest in the middle ages across the world, i.e., non-Western societies.  The research group (Susan Noakes, French and Italian, Medieval Period, U. Minnesota; Geraldine Heng, Medieval and Women’s Studies, English, U. Texas-Austin; Ayhan Aytes, doctoral candidate in Communication at UC-San Diego, and also a medievalist) thus intends to create a digital resource that establishes and enriches researchers’ understanding of how non-Western societies contributed to medieval European culture (approximately 500-1450 ce).  The design for this project is centered on a mapped narrative of cultural influences coming out of Africa (e.g., the former provinces of Rome in the north, including Egypt; later, Islamicized Africa, especially Moorish civilization; and, later still, Western Africa as a site of empires as well as the transatlantic slave trade).  It will thus ground the historical for users through appeals to their temporal, visual, and spatial imaginations.  As with digital timelines, such mapped narratives tend to offer waypoints to users at which they can “stop” to browse in-depth information provided in a variety of media forms.

Peace and Nonviolence:  This project brings together researchers who have worked to promote peace and non-violence through informed activism.  They are uniformly interested in the social causes of violence.  Steven Valdivia, Independent Scholar (former Executive Director, Crisis Intervention Network-LA), and Fernando Hernandez, Education, CSU-Los Angeles (emeritus) are two researchers working on LA gangs.  They are especially interested in how governmental responses to poverty, minority status, and gang activity have fostered gang formation and violence.  They are seeking means of counteracting gang formation that might be recommended as public policies.  One theory they hope to prove is that the militarization of response to gang activity has worsened rather than improved gang violence.  The researchers from the Southern Poverty Law Center (Mark Potok and Heidi Beirich) are interested in research subjects that fit their civil rights mission, which the center pursues through its “tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.”  They are especially concerned with researching the formation of hate groups (e.g. white supremacist), particularly how they hail new members.

Digital Portfolio Project:  Virginia Kuhn (Research Assistant Professor, Associate Director of the Institute of Multimedia Literacy, USC School of Cinematic Arts) has just led the first class through a new, intensive program at IML.  Their senior year culminates in a major multimedia design project, producing a finished piece with support work for each of the 30+ students.  Because archiving technology is increasingly available and because the new program is an important focus for the school, Dr. Kuhn wants to find a stable and innovative means for archiving these projects and retrieving information from them—with her ultimate goal being to produce a persistent, state-of-the-art pedagogical resource at USC, one that could serve as a model for other programs.  According to Dr. Kuhn’s official faculty bio, the “project was recently awarded a large (3 terabyte) allowance of storage space on SDSC’s TeraGrid.”  Consulting on the project are ISU’s Cheryl Ball, a specialist in digital composition and rhetoric (English) and Editor of Kairos, and Elijah Wright, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science.

We are working with these teams to apply and further develop SEASR’s capabilities, and will feature their projects in a SEASR community-building workshop later this summer.

Leave a Reply