Posts in Category: news

Plans for Washington

In January I will relocate to Washington, DC for a few months to narrow my focus on Walter-related research, starting a new project on the Capitol dome.  I’m very excited to have recently received news that my application to the Dibner Library Resident Scholar Program was approved!  I’m grateful for this support from the Smithsonian, which will add to the support awarded earlier by the US Capitol Historical Society for the same project.

update from Sabbatical-land

This is the first direct link to the blog I keep to track progress during my yearlong sabbatical: “Summer in One Shelfie.”


This website has been pretty much on the DL for the last several weeks since its birth at a digital humanities workshop at George Mason University.  Technically it’s been open for business on the internets while I’ve been playing around with it, learning Page Builder and amazing my friends and family with new vocab (like “widgitized”). Ideally it will be the one-stop catch-all for my professional activities, including teaching, research, and also as a link to the growing repository of photographs that I collect during my travels.  Although, of course, it remains pretty open to continued tinkering, it’s time to move on to other projects that are supposed to be the meat of my sabbatical, so for now I will say the site is ready for prime time (if not quite “done”).  I would be happy to hear your comments and suggestions!  Thanks for stopping by.

Fun with Google Books Ngram Viewer

Today we tried out a  number of data mining programs.  I like the term “data mining:” it seems an appropriate way to think about digging deep, with some goal in mind, finding raw glittery things that need to be handed off to a skilled person to consider, judge, cut, polish, and set.

Graphs can be really compelling, for they so swiftly and decisively draw conclusions from piles of data–in this case, books published from 19th to 20th centuries analyzed for the frequency with which words appear. They’re also dangerous, I know, for they are certainly light on nuance. But I guess that is the role of the scholar: to understand the context and ask the further questions to properly position data that appears so spiffy and commanding into a broader consideration—or, alternately, to just go ahead and use it as proof of the devastation brought to centuries of architectural tradition (beauty) with the advent of anti-aesthetic concepts (space).  Especially considering this graph, in which the lines cross at 1907–the very year that Peter Behrens was named design director for the A.E.G.!–I can maybe see how a person might be tempted to do that.

StoryMap: Thomas U. Walter in Europe, 1838

This cool product is the result of many years of research into Thomas U. Walter plugged into a very easy-to-use internet tool.