Lab 5 – Finding Data

Today we are learning from Kevin Walker from the UA Libraries about strategies for finding and working different types of data.


For your final project, you will explore some aspect of religious culture in the US between 1980 and 2010 using the Longitudinal Religious Congregations and Membership File (state or county) and at least one other data source of your choice. It could be textual data, social media data, statistical or survey data, geospatial data …, whatever you think will help you better understanding and present your research.

For your lab, create a blog post that discusses project ideas and possible data sources. First, write up a 1-2 sentence idea for your research topic. Then explore the resources that we have covered today in class and come up with a short-list of 2-4 data sources that you think might be useful for your final project. For each source provide:

  • the name of the data source (such as the Religious Landscape Study from the Pew Research Center, Twitter, or the Adventist Digital Library)
  • a link to some example data (datafile, book or other textual resource, hashtag search results)
  • a sentence or two describing what questions you think you might be able to explore with that data.
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Reflection 2 – Data for Religious Studies and Digital Humanities

Question: What counts as data for the study of religion? What can and cannot be captured as data?

Write a 500-1000 word blog post reflecting on the role of “data” in digital humanities projects in Religious Studies. Use course readings and your technical work to propose an answer to the question of what constitutes data for the study of religion. Be sure to use complete sentences, correct grammar, and citations.

Due Friday, November 6th at midnight.

Lab 4 – Tidy Data

Your reading today was probably one of the more technical pieces you’ll read in this course. Tidy Data is written for statisticians to discuss the problem of organizing data. I find that this piece is useful one for introducing some of the concepts involved in data work and for introducing you to how statisticians think about data. These are the people we are stealing methods from, and it is important to understand their concerns and assumptions as we think about how we bring those methods and tools into the humanities.

So, my goals for today:

  • Learn some of the vocabulary around data
  • Practice thinking about data as something to be organized and operated on.
  • Think a bit together about why one might one tidy data and what the costs might be of tidy data

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Lab 3 – Accessibility

For our lab, we will be learning from Melissa Green, UA’s Technology Accessibility Specialist with CIT/OIT, about different ways people with disabilities access digital content.


Your homework is to evaluate the digital humanities site you have selected to review for accessibility. You do not need to do the whole site – chose a select page or two that includes core features of the site.

Your accessibility review should evaluate how well the site meets some of the basic web accessibility standards. Read the Introduction to Web Accessibility from WebAIM to learn about the core elements of accessible web documents. Use the WAVE Accessibility Tool or Accessibility Insights* to generate a report on how well your digital humanities site meets basic web accessibility standards. Both tools have video introductions that you should watch to learn how to use them: WAVE introduction video; Accessibility Insights introduction video.

*For Accessibility Insights, FastPass mode is sufficient for our purposes, but you are welcome to explore the full assessment.

Additionally, your accessibility review should evaluate the site in relation to inclusive design principles. Who is the assumed user? Who is excluded from the site? What types of changes might produce a more inclusive design?

Your review should be 500-1000 words and posted to your blog. Include the report generated by the accessibility audit tool (screen shots will work for our purposes).

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Lab 2 – HTML

There are many interfaces for presenting and accessing digital scholarship, but almost all of them, at some point or another, come back to the internet and the world wide web.

Today we’re going to explore some of the basic building blocks of the internet. The goal for this assignment is to think about how the pages that you are creating with WordPress work, so that you are better able to control your WordPress site and to evaluate the DH projects you interact with.

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Reflection 1 – Presentation of Digital Projects

Question: What difference does the interface make? How does the medium of interaction affect the possibilities for research? for thinking?

Write a 500-1000 word blog post reflecting on the role of “interfaces” in digital humanities projects. Use course readings and your technical work to propose an answer to the difference made by the interface of a digital project. Be sure to use complete sentences, correct grammar, and citations.

Review a Digital Humanities Project

Prepare a 10 minute presentation on a digital humanities project in Religious Studies. Your presentation should:

  • Guide the class through of the major features of the project
  • Provide a description and assessment of the project goals, design, data sources, and analytical methods
  • Offer an evaluation of the overall project using at least one of the course readings so far.

You should use a combination of slides and live interactions with the project site.

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Welcome to Fall 2020

Welcome to Digital Humanities in Religious Studies, Fall 2020 edition! I for one am excited for the semester and I hope you are too.

I hope you have been following the Religious Studies blog over the summer for news on how we are approaching the fall semester. If not, go ahead and read our department plan for running a safe semester.

A few things to let you know before we begin on Thursday.

First, given the uncertainty surrounding the semester and the fact that at some point you may need to isolate, this course is being run as “remote first.” This means that regardless of what happens, our primary platform for interaction will be digital in the form of Zoom calls and a course Slack channel. Think of it as prep for working from home for your future jobs.

Second, I have been following the news and am making the call that we will begin the course with no “in person” option. This means that on Thursday, August 20th, I will see you in our Zoom meeting room and we will talk through the nuts and bolts of how this is going to work. You will receive the meeting room link via email and Slack.

And finally, the syllabus is live here on the course website so you can look around to see what I am planning for us this semester. The course is be structured with Tuesday discussions and Thursday “labs” to give us a mix of theory and hands-on technical work every week.

Please email me at any time – – if you have any questions, concerns, or particular challenges with regards to the fall semester.

I am looking forward to meeting you, virtually for now and in person in the very near future.

– Jeri