hartsea's blog

Connected Histories

On Monday November 9th I went to a sponsored Miami University Humanities Center talk called "Connected Histories" at Bachelor Hall. Professor Robert Shoemaker, 18th-century historian from Sheffield University, and Professor Tim Hitchcock of the University of Hertfordshire, spoke about digital repositories of 18th-century history funded by the British government that they have created especially for the sake of preserving "other" histories.

I thought the projects they spoke about were so fascinating that I wanted to share it.

Their finished project is called The Old Bailey Online. It's the proceedings of London's Central Criminal Court from 1674-1913. It's a fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. In addition to the texts themselves, the site provides historical background and information about related sources. There's even a trial of the day!

Some of their upcoming projects build on the ideas of connecting texts to related sources. One is called Plebian Lives and the Making of Modern Lives. It will use recent technical advances in the creation and analysis of multiple digital resources to create a comprehensive electronic edition of primary sources on criminal justice and the provision of poor relief and medical care in eighteenth-century London. It's going to allow users to register and add biographical information to a wiki, among other things.

The other is called Connected Histories, which is going to be a new community and website for aggregating digital resources in British History. It will point to sources like British History Online, the Burney Newspaper Collection, Parliamentary Papers, Charles Booth Online Archive, Collage, etc.

Perhaps the most exciting project will be a Firefox extension called Scrutiny. It will be used for entity recognition within research data. It will be able to scan web pages selected by individual users and highlight entities that it thinks will interest them. Users will be able to train Scrutiny to identify entities which are relevant to their field of research both by using pre-defined, subject-specific 'entity recognition files', and by refining Scrutiny´s understanding of their personal interests through an iterative process of accepting or discarding the suggestions which Scrutiny presents. Scrutiny will be developed using natural language processing, including `named entity recognition´ based on a Bayesian learning methodology.

I'll be honest I don't understand all the details (I got the above wording from their website), but Scrutiny will be designed to help researchers shift through the large number of documents now available digitally to find what is relevant to their research. The example they gave during their lecture was domestic violence. In the 18th century the term domestic violence didn't exist, but there were still cases of it (namely one spouse killing another). Scrutiny could be trained to find matches between one case that was definitely domestic violence and then other cases located in another collection.

The Old Bailey Online can be used now. The other projects should be finished in February or March of 2010. I'll keep you posted, especially as I hear more about Scrutiny!

Between the Covers

I love the title of this new book. It got you to check out this post, didn't it? Between the Covers: The Book Babes' Guide to a Woman's Reading Pleasure (King Library Z1039.W65 H36 2008 ) is a collection of book recommendations for women. It's written by Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel, creators of The Book Babes blog. They cover over 500 books on topics including friendship, sex, finances, health, family, career, etc. Categories include "Babes We Love," "Ages and Stages," "Love, Sex, and Second Chances," and "Babes Without Borders." Each book listed has a short but helpful blurb. You'll find fiction and non-fiction (and even some poetry). You'll also find classics and best sellers. Based on one of their suggestions, I plan to pick up Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands: A Moral and Amorous Tale very soon!

Teaching Literary Research: Challenges in a Changing Environment

If you teach literature classes (or other Humanities-related classes), you might be interested in a new book called Teaching Literary Research: Challenges in a Changing Environment, edited by Kathleen Johnson and Steven Harris. It's available at King Library PN73 .T43 2009. This book has essays written by various professors and librarians examining different aspects of teaching literary research. Topics covered include: information literacy, teaching English majors, teaching non-English majors, research as inquiry, curriculum changes, literary methodology, genre study, use of technology in literature, collaborations between faculty and librarians, etc. There's a particular emphasis on new technologies and the effect it's having on literary research. For instance there's a chapter called "The Changing Nature of the Book: Literary Research, Cultural Studies, and the Digital Age." Teaching research skills will continue to be an important topic as students continue to need to learn how to navigate the ever-increasing amount of information available to them. As explained in the introduction of the book, "The students engaged in the literary research process have, likewise, changed with each generation, becoming greater consumers of technology, if, perhaps, remaining somewhat ignorant of effective research methods. Our contributors discuss the challenges instruction librarians and literature faculty face in this ever-changing environment" (2). This book would be helpful for both college-level instructors and high school teachers. If you're interested in this topic, you might also want to check out the Research Competency Guidelines for Literatures in English.

Writers Harvest Benefit Reading


The 17th Annual Writers Harvest Benefit reading will be held this Thursday at 7 pm in Leonard Theatre. Readers this year include Creative Writing faculty members, such as cris cheek, Eric Goodman, Steve Lansky, Margaret Luongo, and Kay Sloan, with one or two possible late additions. We have books by many of these faculty members at King Library. Here is a sampling:

Part, Short Life Housing: Poems by cris cheek. King Library PR6053.H433 P27 2009

Child of My Right Hand: A Novel by Eric Goodman. King Library PS3557.O583 C47 2004

The Patron Saint of Red Chevies: A Novel by Kay Sloan. King Library PS3569.L544 P38 2004

Suggested donation is $5 for students and $10 for faculty. Donations will be divided equally between the Family Choice Pantry in Oxford, Serve City in Middletown, and the Freestore/Foodbank in Cincinnati. This year's Writers Harvest is part of a larger effort on campus: Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Down in Mississippi



Miami University's production of Down in Mississippi: A Gospel Play with Music by Carlyle Brown starts October 1st and continues through October 10th.  This perfomance will be the world premiere.  The production is part of the events surrounding the "Freedom Summer, Unity, and Change: Then and Now" conference scheduled for October 9th-11th.

You'll find a lot of great information about Freedom Summer in the Western College Memorial Archives.  You'll find photos and documents there.

In addition you might want to check out our Digital Collections.  You'll find a useful African-Americans at Miami University Collection.  You can also browse some of the Freedom Summer Collection.

If you're interested in learning more about African-American theatre, you might want to check out Alexander Street Press's Black Drama 1850 to the Present.  You might also check out a couple of these book titles:

The Fire This Time: African-American Plays for the 21st Century by Harry Elam and Robert Alexander.  King Library PS628.N4 F57 2004

Best Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African-American Playwriting edited by Chuck Smith.  King Library PS627.N4 B47 2007

Black Heroes in Monologues by Gus Edwards.  King Library PS3555.D925 B55 2006

Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama by Tejumola Olaniyan. King Library PS338.N4 O43 1995

Reading Contemporary African-American Drama: Fragments of History, Fragments of Self edited by Trudier Harris.  King Library PS338.N4 R43 2007

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week will be celebrated from September 26th to October 3rd.  Here at King Library we are getting a head start with two displays that will be shown starting September 21st and lasting through most of October.  There's a display called "Banned in America" on the first floor of King in the vestibule.  Among other things it features this interactive map.  The map shows where all the book challenges from the last year took place.  On the ground floor of King in the Instructional Materials Center (IMC) there's a display of children's books that have been challenged and/or banned over the years.

If you can't resist reading a "forbidden" book, you can see a list of  some challenged books that we own at King Library by going to our GoodReads site and finding our Banned Books Display 2009 shelf. 

Miami University Libraries's banned-books-display-2009 book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Almost as good as a trip to the British Library

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Under Ground

The British Library has a neat collection of virtual books on their website.  You can look at the books using their "Turning the Pages" software.  This software allows you to leaf through the books and magnify the details.  Books include a Bible for Ethiopia, the first atlas of Europe, an early work of Jane Austen, and selected sketches from Leonardo da Vinci.  My favorite one is Alice's Adventures Under Ground.  Click on the picture above to see it.

Citation Practices for International Students Workshop on 9/14

This workshop, jointly produced by the University Libraries and the Howe Center for Writing Excellence, will provide an overview of the citation process, geared especially to international students.  Kate Francis, Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, and Eric Resnis will be presenting.   We will talk about why citations are needed, how to cite, and resources that can be utilized.  Feel free to come with your questions.  The workshop will be on 9/14 from 4:00-5:00pm in King 27.  You can register here.  Space is limited to 15, so register now!


Update: A second session has been added on 9/24 at 1:00pm.  You can register here for that session.

New Collection of Autobiographical Writings

We have a new collection of autobiographies in our collection.  It's called Gay American Autobiography: Writings from Whitman to Sedaris.  It's edited by David Bergman and can be found at King Library PS508.G39 G39 2009.  The collection draws from letters, journals, oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies from the last century and a half.  It includes American men of African, European, Jewish, Asian, and Latino heritage.  The experiences portrayed are varied and fascinating.  You'll find writings by Henry James, Minette, Edmund White, David Wojnarowicz, and many others.  The collection includes many out-of-print and hard-to-find works and is well worth checking out!

Zany Serial Story, Website to Launch (or why I want to go to the National Mall)

I really wish I could be at the National Mall in D.C. on September 26th this year.  As part of the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival, Jon Scieszka is leading "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure."  He'll start out a chain of celebrated authors writing a serial adventure story with the following words:

This story starts with a train rushing through the night.  The full moon lights the silver rails winding around dark mountains, through deep woods, and over steep gorges of jagged rock and one freezing cold rushing black mountain river.  I wish there was enough time to describe all of the funny (and touching) twists and turns – especially the Elephant Clown Party – that led up to now. But there isn’t. Enough time. Because there is a ticking clock. And the two passengers we care most about don’t know anything about it.

Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Nikki Grimes, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, and, Gregory Maguire are among the celebrated authors who will also contribute.

If you're like me, and are pretty sure you won't be able to make it to this event, you can console yourself by checking out the this website Lifelong Literacy on September 26th to see how the story progresses.

You might also check out books written by some of the authors listed above.  Many of their books can be found in our very own Instructional Material Center on the ground floor of King Library.

Here are a few titles you might be interested in:

Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka.  King Library, Ground Floor, IMC, Juv.  PZ8.S3134 St 1992

Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems by Nikki Grimes. King Library, Ground Floor, IMC, Juv.  PS3557.R489982 H67 1999

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Di Camillo.  King Library, Ground Floor, IMC, Juv. PZ7.D5455 Be 2000


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