Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

The Rise of Digital Humanities at Purdue University

The Rise of Digital Humanities at Purdue University

March 1st, 2021

By: Matthew Hannah

To go so far as to call this a “rise” may be a bit of exaggeration. After all, Purdue is well known for its commitment to innovative methodologies and cutting-edge areas of study. Certainly, this is true of the STEM disciplines, but it is also true of the humanities, social sciences, and information studies. Digital humanities, or “DH” as it is known to practitioners, is but one area that humanities, social sciences, and information researchers and students have been exploring and expanding for some time, and Purdue boasts a long history of important DH innovators and initiatives, from Kim Gallon’s groundbreaking work in Black DH to Sorin Matei’s innovative use of GIS maps to study historical topographies, from grant-winning projects such as Dino Felluga’s BRANCH and COVE projects to Bradley Dilger’s CROW. The humanities and social sciences at Purdue are always breaking new ground, expanding the boundaries of academic research.

students share their digital humanities research with one another
Above: research for a COVE exhibit by student in Rebecca Mitchell’s class at the University of Birmingham, UK, based on material in Cadbury Research Library’s conservation studio (pictured)

And yet it feels like something is happening here. When I arrived at Purdue as an Assistant Professor in the Libraries and School of Information Studies nearly three years ago, I was given a broad mission: build on existing efforts to develop a DH curriculum through collaboration with scholars across PULSIS and the College of Liberal Arts. I began collaborating with Erla Heyns, who had already been working tirelessly to promote and foster DH in the LSIS, to establish networks and find collaborators who might be interested in such a project, and we immediately began working closely with Venetria Patton, the head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, to design and implement undergraduate and graduate certificates in digital humanities. We identified stakeholders, hosted informational sessions and call outs, and designed and identified courses for this new certificate initiative. Dr. Patton tackled the undergraduate certificate, and I handled the graduate, in what has been a fruitful multi-disciplinary, multi-college collaboration in keeping with the very ethos of collaboration inherent in DH itself.

I am happy to announce that our efforts have launched two brand new certificates in DH to be offered at Purdue. Graduate students will now have the opportunity to complete a 12-credit certificate, comprised of two required core seminars and two elective seminars, which will cover important aspects of the field such as computational text analysis, digital archives, geospatial analysis, data management, and various other topics, with an eye toward developing a toolkit for their own disciplinary graduate research. Many of these seminars are regularly available in both LSIS and the College of Liberal Arts to provide flexibility for students. By the end of a graduate certificate, students will have designed, implemented, and launched an original DH project of their own. Undergraduates can expect to complete a 16-credit certificate, with four possible tracks (three of which must be completed): culture and society, digital literacy, programming, and visualization. This important set of topics will provide students a well-rounded set of technical skills and, at the same time, a critical apparatus with which to think about technology from a humanistic perspective.  

Digital Humanities graduate students with Professor Matt Hannah
Above: Cohort of graduate students with Dr. Hannah (center) in Digital Humanities Foundations (Fall 2019)

In teaching my graduate seminar, Digital Humanities Foundations, over the past few years, I find that graduate students at Purdue are hungry for innovative digital methods to apply to their research in the humanities and social sciences. Certificates provide formal recognition that students have developed important digital skills and thoughtfully applied them to their research in the humanities and social sciences. For many graduate students, an official accreditation can provide important recognition on their CVs and resumes, especially if they pursue careers outside the tenure track, in libraries or cultural organizations. For undergraduate students, a DH program offers the opportunity to combine their interests in the humanities or social sciences with interests in technology, data science, or computation. For some undergraduates, DH may even provide a vocabulary for meaningful careers after college in tech startups, non-profits, cultural organizations, or industry, which value the combination of liberal arts training and technical literacy. In essence, a formal education in DH seems like a perfect fit for a place like Purdue.

The hard work of our Purdue community—the exciting projects, innovative methods, grants awarded, and courses taught—have culminated in these new certificate programs, a recognition that Purdue will continue its leadership toward innovative educational offerings across campus. Certificates in DH will offer students exciting new avenues for study, and I have already seen how impressive their work will be. Thus, we rise.    

ILS Digital Scholarship Courses Offer Purdue Students Instruction in Data Science, Digital Humanities & More

October 28th, 2019

Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies (PULSIS) will offer four new digital scholarship-related information and library science (ILS) courses in Spring 2020. According to Matt Hannah, assistant professor of Digital Humanities, PULSIS, the courses are designed to provide students with important skills related to Digital Humanities, data science, archival science, and data management.
ILS 695, “Introduction to Computational Text Analysis” (3 credit hours); noon-1:15 p.m. Tuesdays/Thursdays; Instructors: Matthew Hannah and Trevor Burrows, postdoctoral researcher

Graduate Courses

  • ILS 695, “Introduction to Computational Text Analysis” (3 credit hours); noon-1:15 p.m. Tuesdays/Thursdays; Instructors: Matthew Hannah and Trevor Burrows, postdoctoral researcher
    This course will offer an introduction to text analysis using the scripting language R. Aimed at an audience of newcomers, especially from the humanities and social sciences, with no experience in programming. Students will learn a set of tools and methods, but will also think theoretically about the nature of text and textuality, signification, authorship and authority, the history of the book, and more.
  • ILS 695, “Digital and Analog Archives” (3 credit hours); 1:30-4:20 p.m. Wednesday; Instructor: Sammie Morris, professor and head, Purdue Archives and Special Collections
    In this course, students will engage both the theory and practice of archival work. Taught by University Archivist Sammie Morris, with support from a range of expert archivists, students will gain valuable experience regarding the practice of archiving and will contribute to an original digital archive of materials related to Purdue’s history.
  • ILS 595, “Data Management and Curation for Qualitative Research” (3 credit hours), 4:30-7:20 p.m. Tuesdays; Instructor: Kendall Roark, assistant professor, PULSIS
    This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to data management and curation for qualitative research, with a focus on the use, value, and organization of data, materials, infrastructure, tools and scholarly communication.

Undergraduate Course

  • ILS 230, “Data Science and Society: Ethical, Legal, Social Issues” (3 credit hours), 1:30-2:45 Tuesdays/Thursdays; Instructor: Kendall Roark, assistant professor, PULSIS
    This course provides an introduction to ethical, legal, social issues (ELSI) in data science. Students will be introduced to interdisciplinary theoretical and practical frameworks that can aid in exploring the impact and role of data science in society.

For a complete list of Spring 2020 ILS courses offered through the Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies, visit

Purdue Digital Humanities Prof. Selected as Fulbright Specialist, Plans to Teach DH in Morocco

August 29th, 2019

Matt Hannah, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies
Matt Hannah

Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities Matt Hannah has been busily laying the foundation for an ongoing and robust discussion about digital humanities (DH) and to advance digital scholarship overall at Purdue. Since he started at Purdue in March 2018, he has put together and delivered many DH workshops and contributed to many digital scholarship projects and efforts on campus, and is developing a DH Studio in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education (HSSE) Library.

Recently, he also launched the Digital Interest Group at Purdue, which will meet monthly. Group members will discuss key scholarship ideas, projects, and concepts in DH, computational social sciences, Critical Data Studies, science and technology studies, digital history, data science, and more. The first meeting is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11; visit to sign up for the group (location to TBD). According to Hannah (who goes by @TinkeringHuman on Twitter), the group will also tinker with various methodologies and tools, write and share code, and discuss digital projects.

“We imagine this interest group will become a hub for anyone at Purdue interested in digital scholarship broadly conceived,” he noted.

In addition to advancing DH at Purdue, Hannah will advance DH internationally, as he has recently accepted a fellowship as a Fulbright Specialist with a few institutions in Morocco to set up a DH boot camp for digital scholars there.

Below, Hannah shares more about his upcoming fellowship and the DH work he will be doing in Morocco over the next three years.

Q. How did you come to know about this opportunity?

Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Matt Hannah works in the programming language R in his office in the DH Studio located in the HSSE Library. In the spring of 2019, offered a text analysis workshop series using R.
Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Matt Hannah works in the programming language R in his office in the DH Studio located in the HSSE Library. In the spring of 2019, he offered a text analysis workshop series using R.

Hannah: Because of the work we’ve been doing in Digital Humanities at Purdue, I was contacted by Dr. Stacy Holden, an associate professor of history at Purdue, who specializes in the Middle East. She has been working in Morocco for many years, and she’s currently there on a Fulbright fellowship. She articulated an interest in Digital Humanities among faculty and staff she’s collaborated with in Morocco and suggested I apply for a Fulbright Specialist fellowship to organize intensive Digital Humanities workshops to be conducted over several days. I then worked with Dr. Christopher Lukasic to prepare an application, and, for a time, we weren’t sure whether our idea would be successful.

Q. You mentioned you will work with individuals in institutions in Morocco to set up a Digital Humanities boot camp. Tell me more about this project and/or projects. What will they entail?

Hannah: Fulbright Specialists serve shorter terms, generally around a particular project in which an expert in the field may be paired with an overseas institution to collaborate. Through Dr. Holden’s contacts in Morocco, I’ve been in communication with colleagues at Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tétouan and Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane to arrange week-long intensive Digital Humanities workshops. These workshops will cover the range of possible tools and methods so participants will gain a wide ranging set of skills in DH by the end of the week. In addition, I will coordinate with faculty and staff to consult on existing projects and initiatives.

Q. What do you hope to achieve with your boot camps?

Hannah: I am hoping to develop great relationships with Moroccan digital humanists and develop a strong network of international collaboration around the topic of digital scholarship. In addition, I plan to consult with faculty working on DH projects and lend assistance where I can. Finally, I hope to develop an intensive curriculum that I can teach at other universities around the world. I’m grateful to Fulbright for making such international relationships possible.

Q. What is the timeline for your boot camps over the next three years? Any collaborators you want to recognize, share information about?

Hannah: I’d love to visit other universities in Morocco to conduct similar workshops. Often, Digital Humanities gets discussed as though it were only an Anglo-American phenomenon, when we know scholars around the world are doing dynamic and exciting work. I also hope to develop this boot camp series into an offering I can teach at other international universities and colleges, as well as offer to interested parties at Purdue.

Q. Any other information that will be important to include that isn’t touched on the questions above?

Hannah: One key aspect of the Fulbright role is to gain knowledge from my hosts. I’m very much looking forward to discovering what Digital Humanities looks like in the Moroccan context and, through a process of collaboration, to expand my own scholarly horizons through the sustained conversations made possible by the Fulbright program.

For more information about DH at Purdue, contact Hannah at

Libraries to Host “The American Soldier Transcribe-a-Thon” in Honor of Veterans Day

November 7th, 2018

Purdue Libraries Presents "The American Soldier Transcribe-a-Thon" 2018Join Purdue Libraries for “The American Soldier Transcribe-a-Thon,” a Digital Humanities event in commemoration of Veterans Day.

From 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13 in the Humanities, Social Science, and Education (HSSE) Library (Stewart Center, room 142), individuals are encouraged to come and transcribe original and uncensored commentaries written by soldiers who served during World War II and were asked to reflect on their service.

The transcribed commentaries will be saved and made available digitally to students and scholars around the world, providing an important resource for future research.

“These commentaries provide a wealth of information about the soldiers’ lives, their hopes and anxieties about returning to civilian life, and their thoughts about the Army,” explained Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities Matt Hannah.

“The American Soldier Transcribe-a-Thon” at Purdue is sponsored by Purdue Libraries and is open free to the public. No technical expertise required, but participants are asked to bring a laptop computer on which to transcribe. Registration is available at

The annual event is organized by Virginia Tech, and many individuals and entities across the U.S. participate every year.

Learn more about the project at

Call for Proposals: Digital Humanities Travel Grants for Purdue Grad Students, Innovation Grants for Faculty

August 28th, 2018

Digital Humanities - Purdue University LibrariesPurdue University Libraries Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities (DH) Matthew Hannah is seeking proposals from Purdue University graduate students for DH travel grants and from Purdue faculty for DH innovation grants. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the deadline of May 1, 2019. More information about each grant opportunity is below.

Digital Humanities Travel Grants

These travel grants are available for Purdue University graduate students who are traveling to a conference to present original work occurring at the intersection of the humanities and technology. Funded areas of scholarship include: Digital Humanities, media studies, Science and Technology Studies, humanities informatics, scholarly editing, book studies, data science, archives, or museum studies. As part of the Integrative Data Science Education Ecosystem, and provided by the Digital Humanities Studio and Purdue Libraries, these travel grants will provide up to $600 for travel to a conference. While any graduate student is eligible, the presentation must relate to the intersection of technology and the humanities.

To apply or request more information, submit your abstract and a brief CV to Hannah at by May 1, 2019. (Applications will be accepted until the deadline.)

Digital Humanities Innovation Grants

Are you a Purdue University faculty member planning to add digital tools, methods, or media into your existing humanities course? Are you planning to propose a new course with digital tools, methods, or content in the next few years? As part of the Integrative Data Science Education Ecosystem, the Digital Humanities Studio and Purdue Libraries are offering innovation grants of $2,000 to faculty who will be significantly redesigning or revising their syllabi in the coming years to incorporate more digital methods, tools, or content into existing or new courses. These incentives provide funds for training, conference travel, equipment, or other support in the development or redevelopment of courses to include innovative digital methods and tools.

To apply or request more information, submit a brief CV, the syllabus you plan to revise, and a 1-2 page course proposal detailing the planned modifications, including discussion of new tools, methods, assignments, content, or other changes to Hannah at by May 1, 2019. (Applications will be accepted until the deadline.)

Purdue Libraries to Host “Tinkering Humanist” Digital Humanities Workshop Series This Summer

May 30th, 2018

The Tinkering Humanist Workshop Series sponsored by Purdue University Libraries
Registration for each workshop is required and available online at Please complete one registration form for each workshop you plan to attend.

One of the hallmarks of Digital Humanities is the notion of “tinkering,” of exploring new tools and technologies that faculty and educators can use in their scholarship and teaching. In a series of workshops sponsored by Purdue University Libraries, Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities Matthew Hannah (based in the Humanities, Social Science, and Education, or HSSE, Library) will introduce you to these new tools and discuss some ways to implement them in your research and pedagogy.

The individual workshop descriptions, with time/date location information, are listed below. All workshops are open free to Purdue University faculty members, students (undergraduate and graduate), and staff members, but registration is required and is available online at Please complete one registration form for each workshop you plan to attend.

Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities Matt Hannah
Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities Matt Hannah

Topic Modelling with Voyant Tools

3-4:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 27
Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC) 3045

Have you ever wished you could simply press a button and see the major topics of a novel or book of poetry? With this workshop on Voyant Tools, you can easily create topic models of any text. A topic model shows the most frequently used words in any given body of text, which allows scholars and teachers to design interesting and innovative lesson plans. Professor Hannah will begin with a discussion of “data” in the humanities, and he will direct you to some great online resources for accessing the plain text documents you will need for analysis. Workshop participants will then create a topic model of a corpus of poems, including word frequencies, text visualizations, and word tracking. Instructor will provide text to analyze. No technical expertise required. Register (required) at

Social Network Analysis Using Gephi

3-4:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 11
WALC 3045
Social network analysis is one of the growing areas in Digital Humanities research. Scholars and teachers are increasingly looking for easy-to-use software to visualize connections and relationships. In this workshop, you will learn the basic theory behind social network analysis including how to generate and insert data. We will create visualizations of some data provided by the instructor or you can bring your own! We will conclude by considering the pedagogical possibilities of social network analysis for the humanities classroom. No technical expertise required. Register (required) at

Digital Publishing with Scalar

3-4:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 25
WALC 3045
If you have ever wished you could have your students build a multimedia project for your class but weren’t sure how to do it, this workshop is for you! We will discuss the basics of Scalar, a free software platform for innovative digital publishing. With Scalar, you can add photos, text, music, videos, and other media to an essay, creating a hyperlinked rhizomatic publication that fully immerses the reader in a topic through a multitude of media. Even more exciting, Scalar allows you to visualize your materials, and we will consider the ways that adding quantitative data to your project’s benefits or detracts from your work. Because Scalar is so widely adopted by online repositories such as Hathi Trust, you can access the materials in the workshop or bring your own. We will also discuss the pedagogical possibilities for Scalar and look at some sample student projects. Materials needed: digital objects videos, sound files, and pictures. No technical expertise required. Register (required) at

Mapping Time with Timemapper

3-4:45 p.m. Wednesday, August 1
WALC 3045
Timelines are important components of humanities education and research. Whether charting the transmission of knowledge or the march of history, timelines allow us to visualize vast periods of time into easy-to-read infographics. With this workshop, participants will create their own timeline visualizations using Timemapper, a free and accessible timeline software. The skills you learn here will allow you to assign your students new explorations into the humanities and social sciences. No technical expertise required. Register (required) at

Digital Archiving with Omeka

3-4:45 p.m. Wednesday, August 22
WALC 3045

Have you ever wanted to incorporate archival research into your classroom? With Omeka’s free archiving platform, you can assign students to upload content and create their own archives. This easy-to-use platform offers exciting possibilities for your lesson plans, allowing students to explore original material using the Dublin Core metadata standards used by libraries and museums for digital content. In this workshop, we will discuss what Dublin Core is and how to access and use Omeka. Each participant will bring three digital items (music, video, PDFs, texts) to begin creating an original archive, and we will discuss the various metadata categories, as well as the plug-ins, offered by Omeka. Materials needed: 3 digital items. No technical expertise required. Register (required) at

For more information, contact Hannah at