Digital Writing Workshops

What would it look like to write a research paper that utilizes the rich interactivity we experience everyday on the World Wide Web? To build a digital project for a class assignment where readers can more fully explore your evidence and argument through digital media, maps, visualizations, or augmented reality? What are the affordances of interactive media for research and scholarship, as well as writing, storytelling, and communication, more generally?

Join us for a series of workshops and talks at the Ahmanson Lab on emerging practices and tools in digital communication, writing, and scholarship. This series is meant to bridge digital praxis and theory and to help students work as well as think digitally. Workshops will offer hands-on training in digital methods and platforms -mapping, interactive timelines, data visualizations, and online scholarly writing- while talks will inform training sessions by offering broader questions and theories about the nature of interactive media.

All workshops are aimed at beginners; no prior experience is required. 

All events will be held at the Ahmanson Lab located on the third floor of Leavey Library (Map).


Conquering Digital History / Digitizing Conquest History: New Questions, Answers, and Methods for Historical Study

Jeremy Mikecz, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Digital Humanities, USC

January 16, 3:00-4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab | LVL 301

In the past few decades, researchers have increasingly relied on digital tools to analyze datasets, large and small - whether they be quantitative databases or collections of digital texts. They use maps and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to explore geographic patterns, Social Network Analysis to examine networks of relationships, and various other data visualizations to reveal other hidden patterns found in this data.

Less attention has been paid to how these tools can help answer specific historical questions in new ways and guide a research project from start to finish. In this presentation, Jeremy Mikecz will share methods he has developed, borrowed, or modified to answer historical questions. In particular, he applies these methods to a research topic which, at first glance, may not seem conducive to digital analysis: the Spanish invasion and "conquest" of Inka Peru. How does this story of conquest change if we interrogate colonial texts using digital tools to identify the people, places, and events these texts neglect? Does the triumphant story of Spanish dominance told by these texts hold up under scrutiny when native people are placed back on the map and reinserted into the story of conquest? How can we use digital methods to rewrite history from below?

Mikecz will propose answers to these questions while discussing a wide variety of digital methods researchers can use to answer historical questions: from digital text analysis, to data visualizations, and 'mood maps.' Lastly, this presentation will seek to demystify some myths about digital scholarship: namely, that applying these methods requires buying expensive equipment or software, participating in formal training, and surmounting a steep learning curve. Rather, Mikecz will show some first (digital) steps that any researcher can take to enhance their scholarship.

RSVP for this talk.


Getting Started with Data Visualizations

February 13, 3:00-4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab | LVL 301

This workshop will center on the use of information visualization in scholarship from a rhetorical, design and cultural perspective. The workshop will include an overview of datasets, design principles for their presentation, and a survey of tools for the creation of both standard and novel visualizations. The workshop will end with a brief hands-on exercise for creating a basic visualization.

RSVP for this workshop.


Introduction to Digital Mapping and GIS

March 20, 3:00-4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab | LVL 301

Participants will learn the basic functionality of leading mapping platforms CARTO and MapBox and will walk away with a basic digital infrastructure in which they can plug-in thier own research project. During the workshop participants will work with prepared data and maps featuring the GreenBook, HOLC maps, and other materials specific to Los Angeles.

RSVP for this workshop.