What’s keeping us busy

Although we’ve recently posted new issues of the Armory Square Hospital Gazette, visitors to Civil War Washington know that the site has been fairly static for some time now. Thanks in part to the three-year Collaborative Research Grant we received from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the summer of 2010, we are, however, very busy behind the scenes. In fact, nearly all of our current efforts are such behind-the-scenes work. In addition to retooling the project GIS and relational database, as well as transcribing and encoding the petitions filed in the aftermath of the Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, members of the project team are pursuing a number of other research questions. These range from technical quandaries to more traditional humanities research.

On March 10, for example, project co-director Ken Winkle will present his paper “Civil War Washington: Interpreting a National Capital in Crisis and Transformation” as part of the Plains Humanities Alliance’s Research and Region Event, “Changing Places: The Geographic Turn in the Digital Humanities.” The panel presentation, which is open to the public, will begin at 3:30 p.m., March 10, and will be held at the Great Plains Art Museum at 1155 Q St., in Lincoln, NE. Ken Price will moderate the event, which will also feature talks from Eric W. Sanderson (“The Mannahatta Project: Integrating History, Geography and Natural Science to Explore the Place of Cities in Nature”) and Philip J. Ethington (“Deep Historical Regionalism: Los Angeles and the Institutional Ecology of a Global Metropolis”). Winkle also is at work on a book about Civil War DC and Abraham Lincoln. If the anecdotes he shared at a recent project meeting are any indication, the book should be both highly informative and a pleasure to read.

Other work-in-progress includes an upcoming conference presentation from Ken Price and myself at the Society for Textual Scholarship Conference, March 16-18. I’ll present on behalf of Price and myself at a roundtable session, “Digital Texts and the Spatial Turn.” In May, Price will discuss work related to Civil War Washington at this year’s American Literature Association conference, where he will talk about the Armory Square Hospital Gazette. At Digital Humanities 2011, Brett Barney, Price, and I will present our paper “Civil War Washington: An Experiment in Freedom, Integration, and Constraint.”

Meanwhile, Susan Lawrence is working with her students to research cases from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. Lawrence’s students have been correcting the OCR text of many of the cases and adding some preliminary encoding. Having the students do this work increases their attention to the cases as part of a larger close reading and analytical activity that asks the students to present findings from the cases and interpret those findings. Look for a posting from Lawrence in the near future about the pedagogical value of the correcting and encoding activity.

Also coming soon: a post from Brittany Jones, our undergraduate research assistant, who will talk about her work transcribing and encoding some of the petitions filed following the Compensated Emancipation Act.

~Elizabeth Lorang

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