HathiTrust + Bookworm in the service of student teams for 4humanities.org student contest

Dr. Sayan Bhattacharyya, from the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ran a Creativity Workshop for the Shout Out for the Humanities Student Contest. He wrote about his thoughts on the contest in a blog post. An excerpt is below:

“I ran a workshop earlier this month  here at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to ‘incubate creativity’ for interested students who attended with the purpose of participating in the Shout Out for the Humanities Student Contest organized by 4humanities.org.

Both undergraduate and graduate students can participate in the contest that 4humanities.org is organizing. The theme of the contest is:

“Why is studying the humanities–e.g., history, literature, languages, philosophy, art history, media history, and culture–important to you? To society? How would you convince your parents, an employer, a politician, or others that there is value in learning the humanities?”

 I noticed that humanities centers at several universities (UCSB, UI Chicago and IUPUI@Indianapolis among them)  were already planning workshops to “incubate” submissions to the context by students, and so it seemed to make sense to organize a workshop right here at UIUC, because it occurred to me that:

 (1) The content/topic of the contest itself is (or ought to be) of interest to all of us who care about the humanities

(2) Not only the  HathiTrust+Bookworm tool (which, of course, is what this blog is about), but also the Word Similarity Tool (built by David Mimno of Cornell using text data provided by the HathiTrust Research  Center) potentially allow some of the students to build interesting philological arguments in support of what they choose to write about the theme — through discovering historical  lexical trends associated with words having to do with the humanities, and exploring the trends of how other words have tended to co-occur with those words over different, particular time-spans of historical time. Basically, with the help of these two tools, students would be able to build “philological” arguments to provide context for their thesis / argument.”

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