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News about the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab

Meet Our Team - Kim

Published November 23, 2017 by Rebecca Dowson

Hi, I’m Kim. I’m a Digital Fellow here at the DHIL, and a PhD candidate in the English Department. I started working in the Digital Humanities in 2012 as an RA for Dr. Margaret Linley’s Lake District Online. Dr. Linley was creating a digital bibliography and archive of the large collection of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Lake District travel literature housed at SFU Special Collections. I started working on the project knowing very little about DH, and very little about the Lake District, an area in the north of England whose mountains and lakes made it a popular tourist destination, and home or work for poets and writers like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Tennyson, John Keats, and Beatrix Potter. Experiencing the first stages of this large database project was a great introduction to both; I soon became familiar with large databases of digitized texts, like the Internet Archive and HathiTrust, and with the mix of travelogue, history, poetry, and landscape description that made up travel writing on the Lake District.

When it came to Digital Humanities methods, I read Stephen Ramsay’s Reading Machines and was pretty much hooked. During my time with the Lake District Online, I helped to develop the bibliographic metadata, which is something I’m really interested in. Metadata is an area in which the digital and the humanistic really overlap, as we try to find machine- and human-readable universal categories for the objects that sometimes defy classifications. Making decisions about what our data is can prompt us to rethink some of our assumptions about the objects we study. I feel the same way about TEI markup, another digital methodology that I am enjoying learning. Humans already mark up and assign categories to our cultural objects - how can machines help us do it or think about it differently? Over the last year or so, I've also become interested in open scholarship - the ways that scholars can connect with our objects of study, each other, and non-academic communities using free, online, public digital tools and platforms. I'm interested in engaging with and facilitating the practice of open scholarship, but I'm also interested in the way we talk about it, the assumptions that we make about it, and the metaphors that we use for it.

My dissertation project doesn’t require any intermediate digital humanities tools or methods, although I am eternally grateful for the search function on digitized texts and e-books! My work does, however, dovetail with my interest in the overlapping categories of the digital and the human. I look at representations of fainting in late-Victorian literature, and I’m specifically interested in the way bodies are represented in novels as behaving automatically, like machines.

I joined the DHIL last year, and I’m lucky to work with such an awesome group of humans. In my position, I get to do communications for the Lab, which I love - keeping in contact with our community and helping to organize events, for example. I’m also very happy that I get to support lab partners at various stages of their projects with things like data modeling, metadata mapping, and documentation.

If you’d like to connect, you can find me on Twitter: @kkodonnell, or by email: kkgilber@sfu.ca.

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