Athens, Ga. – Two faculty members in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences are among seven recipients nationally of the 2013 American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowships. Associate history professor Stephen Berry and English professor William Kretzschmar will spend a year dedicated to a major project intended to advance scholarship in the digital humanities.
The ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship program supports digitally based research projects in all disciplines of the humanities and humanities-related social sciences. The program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, marked its eighth year in 2012-2013.
“The ACLS Digital Innovation Fellows program represents truly creative new pathways for scholarship and broadening the general body of knowledge,” said Franklin College Dean Alan T. Dorsey. “For UGA faculty to be awarded two out of seven fellowships in a national competition is a significant accomplishment and speaks to our commitment to advancing the humanities and social sciences.”
Among this year’s supported projects are a new searchable digital archive of coroners’ reports that allows scholars to view the Civil War-era South through the eyes of a crime scene investigator; a tool to explore Pompeii through a geographic information system model that maps bibliographies of existing scholarship onto relevant points throughout the archaeological site; and an online bilingual multimedia book that probes new directions in both performance studies and scholarly publication.
Berry is the Gregory Chair in the Civil War Era in the department of history. His teaching and writing focus on the Civil War as a lived experience, exploring how men and women reacted, were changed by and endured the conflict. Berry serves as associate academic director for external grants in the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, which supports his work in digital humanities.
Berry’s ACLS project on “CSI Dixie” digitizes, transcribes indexes and makes searchable coroners’ reports of four South Carolina counties for the years 1840-1880.
“The ACLS may not have a household name, but with Guggenheim, NEH and Mellon, these are the four coins of the realm when it comes to humanities funding,” Berry said.
“This would not have been possible without the Willson Center and the Office of the Vice President for Research, which have done so much to support pilot projects, facilitate applications and work to create a culture of grant-getting among the humanists on campus. This is a testament not just to two individual projects but to what can be achieved when all our horses are pulling in the same direction.”
Kretzschmar is the Harry and Jane Willson Professor in Humanities in the department of English. His sociolinguistic field site in Roswell, known as Roswell Voices, is the first North American member of the European Union’s Living Laboratories network, which promotes public and private partnerships involving technology and innovation. His project on “Computer Simulation of Speech and Culture as a Complex System” develops a multidimensional computer simulation that can model and display the process of emergence and adaptation of regional language differences.
“I could not have developed the computer simulations for the fellowship without working with two students, one here at UGA and one in Finland—our students make us better scholars,” Kretzschmar said. “This fellowship will allow me to pursue an idea I first wrote about in 1989, proving that sometimes it takes a long time for ideas to mature and become all that they can be.”