A sentiment analysis graph from Alexandra Hill's digital project.
The Digital Scholarship Fellowship Program for 2020-21 concluded on March 2 with presentations by the participating scholars on their semester-long digital projects. The project asked the DSF scholars to draw on the skills and platforms they learned through a series of workshops offered by the DSF team and was facilitated by one-on-one consultations with the DSF team and other faculty mentors.
The resulting projects range widely in terms of both the topics and the digital platforms and strategies used for their explorations. DSF scholar Alexandra Hill’s project, “Mathematical Analysis of Mental Health in Literature,” explores the question, “How has the portrayal of mental health in English literature evolved over the past century?”
Hill described her approach as follows: “Via text mining/sentiment analysis/statistical techniques (using R), I will be analyzing fiction novels that influenced popular perception of mental health and the way the portrayal of mental health has changed, for better or worse, over time.”
Another project is a collaboration between two fellows, Madoussou Kromah and Alexis Jablonski, whose digital narrative project has the working title “Embodiment of Africa.”
Kromah and Jablonski state, “Our goal for this project is to investigate how common media representations of the African continent impact the mental health and self-perception of African students at St. Lawrence University. We hope to demonstrate that Africa and Africa people are not a homogenous body, as commonly portrayed (war-ridden, poverty-stricken, overcome with illness).”
Each student’s project work involves a set of consultations with members of the DSF team, engagement (in several cases) with faculty advisors, and participation in a set of digital scholarship workshops. The DSF team’s emphasis has been to encourage the scholars to explore topics that are meaningful to them and to use various digital approaches in a way that will result in a deepening of their digital skills and understanding. An initial workshop focused on project management and the use of a platform called Asana, which each student used to track their project’s development. This approach encouraged the students to document, track, and communicate regarding the various aspects of the project while forming a basis for discussion when the students consulted with the DSF team. Other workshops focused on web design using WordPress, using images and other media responsibly, how to conduct research interviews, and more.
While working with the scholars remotely has been a challenge, the DSF team notes that the scholars have found ways to engage successfully in the programming. The team has been impressed by the scholars’ curiosity regarding digital scholarship as well as by their level of focus and engagement with their digital projects.