University of Wisconsin–Madison


Spring 2018

James P. Danky Fellowship Applications now open!  Due May 1, 2018. For more details go to the James P. Danky Fellowship webpage.









Fall 2017

Colloquia Schedule

Multispectral Imaging Coming to the University of Wisconsin

Multispectral Imaging Lecture and Demonstration

Mike Toth, R. B. Toth and Associates

Wednesday December 13th
10:00-11:30 am
Memorial Library, Special Collections Seminar Room, 9th Floor



2017 Danky Fellowship Lecture – Joshua Mitchell

Monday, November 13
12:00 p.m.
4207 Helen C. White Hall

Watch the recording

Print Culture in Prisons: Promoting Entertainment in the Penal Press
Joshua Mitchell, University of Southern California

In the mid-20th century, state and federal prisons across the United States and Canada allocated funds to publish newspapers and magazines for an imprisoned readership in monthly or weekly installments. Hundreds of imprisoned journalists organized under a loosely associated network called the Penal Press, and traded their publications by mail to institutions across the continent. This talk examines the visual strategies used by imprisoned journalists to advertise upcoming film screenings and other entertainment activities at their respective institutions. Through the archive of the Penal Press, we learn that imprisoned spectators possessed shrewd evaluations of the moving images presented to them, and used movie screenings as occasions to critique the institutional settings in which they lived. The talk will use examples of movie advertisements that appeared in a wide variety of Penal Press papers, including The Candle (Wisconsin State Prison), Ohio Penitentiary News (Ohio Penitentiary), Menard Time (Illinois State Penitentiary), and Rikers Review (New York City Penitentiary), all of which are part of the collection at Wisconsin Historical Society.

Spring 2017
Colloquia Schedule

The Shadow of Empty Shelves: World Literature and the National Socialist Pact with Books
Dr. B. Venkat Mani
Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic

Friday, March 10
4 p.m.

4207 Helen C. White Hall

Drawing on his recently published study, Recoding World Literature (2017), in this lecture, Mani focuses on the role of the state in the construction of world literature. Mani argues that investigations of library and print cultural histories assist in understanding the relationship between the “republic” and its “reading public.” The lecture will focus on the first half of the 20th century, presenting Nazi Germany as a case study, sharing archival finds that have made into the book.



President Lincoln and His Medium, With His Spirit Cabinet, Whose Direction He Implicitly Obeyed

Intuitive Historiography in the Archive
Cheryl Spinner
Duke University

Thursday, April 6
12:00 p.m.
4207 Helen C. White Hall

Over the course of this talk, Dr. Cheryl Spinner provides a model for what she calls “intuitive historiographic methods” as a way to approach the archives of the nineteenth-century spiritualist movement. The movement began in 1848 when two sisters in Rochester, NY claimed to hear messages from the spirit world through mysterious knockings that corresponded to Morse code. Spinner argues that the positivist bent of traditional historical analysis is not always useful when assessing whether or not spiritualist testimonies are reliable historical documents. Spinner draws on Jay Monaghan’s analysis of Nettie Colburn Maynard’s expose, Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist? (1892), to show how intuitive historiography can help us approach these perplexing accounts when traditional empirical methods simply fail us. Maynard after all asserts Lincoln sought the spirit medium for political guidance and sat on a floating piano in the White House during a séance. Spinner then asks, “How do we navigate archival materials that insist on the seemingly impossible?”

This talk will be of special interest to historians of Wisconsin given that the first spiritualist college, The Morris Pratt Institute, was founded in 1889 in Whitewater, WI. Whitewater was often called the “second Salem,” an analog to one of the east’s most witchy cities, and the Midwestern hub of spiritualist activity. Spinner draws on examples from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s archives on local spiritualists to demonstrate intuitive historiography in action.

From Document to Documentary: Engaging the Public in Digital Humanities with Video 
Katie Buehner
Head of Rita Benton Music Library, University of Iowa

Lecture – Monday, April 10
12:00 pm
4191 CAT LAB, Helen C. White Hall
Workshop – Monday, April 10
College Library, Room 2257

From her experience producing over 100 successful online video series, including “If Books Could Talk,” Ms. Buehner will share her knowledge about creating exciting and accessible educational videos for public engagement in humanities scholarship.  Her hands-on workshop will provide tips and tools, many of which appear in her forthcoming book  A Music Librarian’s Guide to Creating Videos and Podcasts: Music Library Association Technical Reports (Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2017). 


From Documentary to Social Media: Engaging the Public in Digital Humanities with Social Media 
Colleen Theisen
Outreach and Engagement Librarian, Special Collections, University of Iowa

Lecture – Tuesday, April 11
12:00 pm
Bunge Room 4207, Helen C. White Hall
Workshop – Tuesday, April 11
College Library, Room 2257

As Outreach & Engagement Librarian at The University of Iowa Special Collections, Ms. Theisen has published on the culture of social media in New Directions for Special Collections: An Anthology of Practice and has presented papers at several conferences.  Her lecture will address how and why to create an institutional/organizational social media identity for use in making collections accessible and engaging a wide public.  Her hands-on workshop will discuss the tips and tools she uses for promoting humanities research projects to both academic and public audiences online.

Fall 2016
Evening to Honor James Baughman
Thursday, October 27
5-8 p.m.
Wisconsin Historical Society
Please save the date for an evening honoring Jim Baughman’s personal and professional legacy, including his significant intellectual contributions to American history. The event is currently being planned and will feature a tribute to Jim’s scholarship by media historian David Nord, as well as a panel of former undergraduate and graduate students.

25th Anniversary Symposium
Thursday, November 10, 4 p.m.
Memorial Library, Room 126
Join the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture to celebrate 25 years of scholarship

  • John Cole, Library of Congress Historian
  • Wayne Wiegand, Historian and Co-Founder, Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture
  • James P. Danky, Historian and Co-Founder, Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture

Brownbag Talk
Thursday, November 10
4246 HC White Hall (SLIS Conference Room)

All the Facts: A History of Information in the United States since 1870
Jim Cortada
University of Minnesota

Spring 2016
“Gender and Big Data: Finding or Making Stereotypes?”
CHPDC Annual Lecture

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.10.54 AMLaura Mandell
Professor of English and Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture, Texas A&M University
Friday, April 15 at 4:00 p.m. Bunge Room, 4207 Helen C. White Hall
Reception with light refreshments to follow.
In his book Macroanalysis, Matthew Jockers argues that we have reached a “tipping point.” Now that we have so much digital data, we can use techniques and methodologies used to explore big data: text mining, topic modeling, machine learning, named entity recognition, etc. Two problems confront digital literary historians of women writers who wish to apply these methodologies. First, the number of women writers who published works before 1800 in Britain and America, as well as the number of their publications that have been preserved, is small compared to men, a problem compounded by how few works by early modern women writers are currently being digitized: roughly 4% of 307,000 volumes in the Early English Books Online and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online were written by women writers. Second, many of the data analysts currently comparing what they call “female writing” to “male writing” propagate rather than interrogate stereotypes about women and women writers. Sociologists have worked on such problems, and in this talk, I will outline some of their strategies and discuss how literary critics who wish to perform macroanalysis might make use of them. Data scientists in the commercial world have worked on the problem of representing minorities “fairly” even when they are represented by a small sample. Thanks to the robust history of feminist theory and criticism, we have the means for generating vocabularies, taxonomies, and ontologies for semantic searching and supervised topic modeling that differ from those generated through big-data techniques that naïvely privilege historically oppressive discourses. Second, the need to shift from quantitative to qualitative analysis (and back again) is augmented when analyzing textual data produced by minorities. I argue that, once again, the concern for social justice enhances intellectual work by effectively demonstrating the inadequacies of claiming “new” discoveries based upon “statistical significance” alone. DHRN is a part of the Borghesi-Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshops in the Humanities, sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with support from Nancy and David Borghesi and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 5.46.56 PMFiled Under Negro: Documenting Black Students at the University of Wisconsin, 1875-1940.
Harvey Long
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Tuesday February 23, 12pm, Bunge Room, 4207 HCW

SLIS MA student, Harvey Long discusses his research on race and university archives via the process of searching for and discovering the records of students of color at the University of Wisconsin before 1940.



The Memory Exchange: Public Mourning at the National 9/11 Memorial Museum
Sarah Senk
University of Hartford
Thursday, March 10, 12 p.m., 4th floor Helen C. White Hall (4191F – SLIS Library)
The Memory Exchange- Public Mourning at the National 9-11 Memorial MuseumImplicit in the design of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum is the notion that its commemorative space affirms a pluralist collective of individuals who, despite their varying degrees of spatial or temporal proximity to “Ground Zero,” are encouraged to bear witness here and now. By radically broadening the notion of what constitutes a witness, the museum displaces a sense of unified historical time with the time of the individual subject, implying to visitors that the time that matters most is that of their own personal experience of “9/11,” even if that experience happens fifteen years later in the museum, and has no firsthand experiential antecedent. In this lecture, I examine how the museum produces an ostensibly all-inclusive notion of witness – a configuration whose inclusivity belies the ways in which it is premised upon the replication of the self-identical. If the traditional archive represents the past in isolation, the 9/11 Museum gestures to a fundamental re-articulation of what we think of as the there and then, constituting a new form of personal memory that is no longer based on proximal witnessing, but nevertheless comes to constitute historical knowledge.