IATH takes scholarship into the 21st century

By Jon Bowen, A&S Online, September 2003

Ray describes the collaboration between IATH fellows and staff in similar terms. "Most IATH projects start out with a modest vision on the part of a fellow," he said. But once a fellow joins the Institute's team, he or she begins having weekly meetings with IATH staff to hash out development and design. That's where the envelope gets pushed. "We talk about expanding beyond the way you might've originally conceived it. They say, 'What other things would you like to do?' Each fellow is expert in the scholarship, but transformation into the digital environment calls for new thinking."

New thinking will be the theme of the day at IATH's 10th Anniversary Symposium , taking place in the South Meeting Room of Newcomb Hall, September 25-26. The symposium, which is open to the public, will include presentations by noted IATH fellows such as Ayers and McGann, as well as John Unsworth, the founding director of IATH.

The symposium will evaluate the Institute's past work and also chart a course for humanities computing at U.Va. in the years ahead. The outcome of the symposium will be a blueprint for IATH's future.

IATH's presence at U.Va. is already driving a new focus on digital work in the humanities at the University. One sign of this focus is the creation of a new MA program in digital humanities, which will be offered beginning in Fall 2004.

Meanwhile, IATH's fellows and staff, working in their quarters in the west wing of Alderman Library, go on building a digital storehouse of data that spans the breadth of the humanities. Given the boundless limits of the Web, one of the prime quandaries for IATH fellows is knowing when a project is actually done.

"That's a problem with IATH projects -- they're so open-ended," Ray said with a laugh. As for his Salem Witch Trials archive, he plans to continue his work until the time comes for younger minds to take the controls. "There are other scholars in other institutions who could take it over. I'll turn it over someday."

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