HathiTrust Research Center Awards Four ACS Projects

The HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) is pleased to announce the award of its second round of Advanced Collaborative Support (ACS) projects. For the first time, HTRC accepted proposals requesting non-consumptive, computational access to in-copyright materials for research purposes, marking a significant milestone for the HathiTrust. Scholars working in a broad array of fields from institutions around the world submitted proposals, and just four were awarded ACS.

Each awardee will be provided dedicated HTRC staff time to support their research of material in the HathiTrust for a period of three to six months. Proposals were reviewed on their feasibility, research methodology, and compatibility with HTRC staff resources, as well as the availability of their requested data and potential to positively benefit the wider HTRC community.

Four projects were selected in this round:

  • “Fighting Fever in the Caribbean: Medicine and Empire, 1650-1902,” Mariola Espinosa, University of Iowa: This project seeks to explore the history of yellow fever in the Caribbean by comparing how the disease was described by residents of the Caribbean to the European perspective, including through sentiment analysis of text referencing yellow fever. Her work will be visualized spatially in a map generated with support from the University of Iowa’s Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio. She will build a corpus of text from the HathiTrust Digital Library related to yellow fever and filth in the Caribbean to track the use of the terms “filth” and “filthiness” from 1650 to 1902.
  • “Inside the Creativity Boom,” Samuel Franklin, Brown University: This project will map the increasing use and shifting meanings of the words “creative” and “creativity,” with a particular focus on the twentieth century. A custom “creativity corpus” will be assembled and processed to identify linguistic patterns via a number of text analysis and natural language processing techniques. Brown’s project will make use of the functionality developed for HathiTrust + Bookworm.
  • “The Chicago School: Wikification as the First Step in Text Mining in Architectural History,” Dan Baciu, Illinois Institute of Technology: This project will look at the Chicago School of architecture and examine its history of reception over the last 75 years, as well as identify patterns in its international spread and influence. Baciu will use named entity recognition in his analysis, notably deploying the Wikifier tool on a large sample corpus of HathiTrust data for the first time.
  • "Signal and Noise and Pride and Prejudice: Toward an Information History of Romantic Fiction,” Dallas Liddle, Augsburg College: This project will test two hypotheses about information theory and information density as they relate to a digital humanities approach to studying Romantic-era British fiction. First, it is hypothesized that the concept of "information" as described by mathematical information theory may help digital humanists evaluate the information density of textual forms. In turn, it is sometimes alleged that the popular and critical success of the novel in British print culture after 1815 is related to increased information density and sophistication of information encoding. These hypotheses will be tested through a range of assessments of the information structures in the writings of Jane Austen, Walter Scott, and their contemporaries.

HTRC anticipates releasing the next RFP this fall for projects starting in early 2017. The HTRC ACS program is funded in part by HathiTrust, Indiana University, and University of Illinois