Provost’s Blog

Written by Whitten

A new look at the humanities

Jul 20, 2014

Claudio Saunt, the Richard B. Russell Professor in American History, has received national attention for his interactive map that allows users to see how the United States expanded through the acquisition of Native American territories.

The humanities are timeless fields of study, but many of our faculty are using the latest in modern technology to enable new and striking insights into our history and culture.

Claudio Saunt, the Richard B. Russell Professor in American History and head of the history department in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has received national attention for his interactive map that allows users to see how the United States expanded through the acquisition of Native American territories between 1776 and 1887. The map allows users to see which tribe ceded the land and when, and popup boxes contain links to treaty texts. You can even type in your zip code to see when the area where you live became U.S. territory. The map, which has been featured on Slate.com and cited in The Washington Post, accompanies Saunt’s new book “West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776” (WW Norton, 2014). The book explores life outside the 13 colonies in the year that Americans declared their independence from the British, and The New Yorker recently placed it on its list of books to watch out for.

Dr. Saunt is one of three co-directors of the Digital Humanities Lab, a Faculty Research Cluster supported by the University’s Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. The Digital Humanities Lab provides a central location for digital humanities resources, the capacity to archive and disseminate digital research and the capability to train faculty, students and staff in digital applications. In short, the Digital Humanities Lab puts UGA on the leading edge of one of today’s most exciting areas of scholarship.

Saunt and DHL co-director Stephen Berry, the Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era, founded the website eHistory.org to connect the broader public with academic research. The Georgia Virtual History Project, for example, encourages citizens from across the state to document historic sites then makes that user-submitted information available to an audience ranging from eighth graders to tourists and academic scholars.

Another project affiliated with the Digital Humanities Lab is the Linguistic Atlas Project, which provides students and scholars from around the world with access to a vast collection of interviews conducted across America between 1930 and 1980. Because the interviews were conducted in a systematic way, they allow linguists to compare regional variations in speech. They also provide a unique perspective on the lives of ordinary Americans. Willson Professor in Humanities William Kretzschmar, an internationally recognized pioneering scholar and a DHL co-director, is the editor of the Linguistic Atlas Project.

The digital humanities have a long history at UGA, and the establishment of the Digital Humanities Lab last year means that we’ll undoubtedly be hearing about many more innovative projects in the years to come.

For more information

Previous Posts