Public Digital Humanities Certificate Scholars

Alex Ashland is a third-year PhD candidate in English. He studies nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, and will soon begin work on a dissertation, which tracks the emergence of documentary poetry in the United States. His project, entitled Mapping Whitman’s Correspondence, aims to visualize all available letters for Walt Whitman’s two-way correspondence. In collaboration with The Walt Whitman Archive and the University of Iowa’s Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, he is creating data visualizations that will enable users to identify trends and outliers in the poet’s writing activity, as well as provide a visual framework that could facilitate more nuanced research. This project will provide a window into the ways in which cultural production is intimately tied to both public and private systems of transmission. Indeed, these letters show Whitman thinking through and debating broad thematic concepts such as art, democracy, race, friendship, etc. But just as importantly we see the poet talking about the minutia of his own poetry and prose collections. How each section of Leaves will be organized, the images that are to be included, the typography and size of the pages—all of this can be found somewhere within the contents of the two-way correspondence.

Stefan S.


Stefan Schöberlein is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at the University of Iowa. He is a Research Assistant for the Walt Whitman Archive, the managing editor of the scholarly open access journal Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and a collaborator on Alex Ashland’s “Mapping Whitman’s Correspondence”-project. Stefan’s dissertation is centered on nineteenth century literature and its intersections with science (particularly neuroscience). For the Public Digital Humanities Certificate, he has focused largely on distant reading and authorship attribution methods. Based on his work with stylometry, Stefan has published on questions of disputed authorship in Edgar Allan Poe’s extended corpus (in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities), identifying, for instance, Poe as the author of a popular science pamphlet. For his capstone project Stefan hopes to expand on this research by either applying his methodology to another literary figure or including a wider array of possible Poe texts into his analysis.

Claire Szeszycki is currently a second-year SLIS student at the University of Iowa. Her interest is in academic libraries, and she is working on the Public Digital Humanities certificate. In the course Archives & Media, Claire worked on a mapping visualization of the history of Carnegie Libraries in the state of Iowa. By mapping these libraries and by creating visualizations of their data based on the CLIP website, Claire hopes to make new discoveries as well as create a new way for people to view the data and information. She uses ArcGIS mapping software for this project and Tableau for the data visualizations and other mapping elements and plans to expand on the Carnegie library concept for her Capstone project this upcoming semester - by creating more of an interactive map that includes photos and archives of these libraries, or by mapping Carnegie libraries in other states than Iowa.

Katherine Walden is a third-year PhD student in the American Studies-Sport Studies program and is also enrolled in the Public Digital Humanities Certificate. Originally from St. Louis, she received her BM in Musical Arts from Vanderbilt University (and now considers herself a recovering classical pianist and violist) and an MA in American Studies-Sport Studies at the University of Iowa. Katherine teaches a self-designed Rhetoric of Sport curriculum in UIowa’s Rhetoric Department. Her research interests include representations of baseball in American popular culture, community identity and sport fan communities; popular music and music tourism, sound studies; race and ethnicity, gender; media, digital humanities, archives. Her capstone project is a data-visualization project that uses Baseball-Reference.com data to track the post-World War II demographic shifts and globalization trends within Minor League Baseball.

Rebekah Walker is a second-year MLIS candidate in the School of Library and Information Science. Bekah received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature and history from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and currently serves as Director of Operations for Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL), an interdisciplinary curricular initiative in the University of Iowa’s Rhetoric Department that seeks to engage students with the community beyond the classroom. Bekah hopes to pursue a career in an academic library or museum that allows her to define and explore outreach possibilities to underserved communities and expand information access. To that end, her Public Digital Humanities Capstone project will utilize geographic information systems (GIS) methods to visualize the spatial association of American Indian populations to public and tribally controlled libraries in the United States. Using the robust annual public library data available through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and United States Census Bureau demographic data, this project aims to reveal potential disparities in information access and situate these results within the literature on culturally-appropriate information programming.