Propose a session

All THATCamp CAA attendees are active participants in setting the agenda. This conversation will begin on-line and continue at THATCamp. After the completion of your registration, you will be expected to contribute to this page and to the discussions that follow. This will jump-start programming and provide a forum for proposing and honing session topics with colleagues.

Why are sessions proposed this way?
Proposing sessions before a THATCamp and building a schedule during the first session of a THATCamp ensures that session topics are current, and that unconference participants will collaborate on a shared task. An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “We’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively. We’re here to get stuff done.”

Here are the kinds of sessions people generally propose at THATCamp:

General discussion
Sometimes people just want to get together and talk informally, with no agenda, about something they’re all interested in. Propose a session on a topic that interests you, and if other people are interested, they’ll show up to talk about it with you.

Writing session
A group of people get together to start writing something. Writing can be collaborative or parallel: everyone can work together or by themselves to write an article, a manifesto, a book, a blog post, or a plan.

Working session
You’re working on something (a website, visualization, digital publication, etc.), and you suspect that other participants might be able to help you with it. You describe problems you want solved and questions you want answered. This is not an hour-long demo; you should come with specific questions or tasks you want the group to help you with.

Grab bag
Indefinable by definition.


  • To add a new session proposal, leave a message in the text box below
  • To leave a comment or ask a question about a proposal already listed, hit “reply”

82 Responses to Propose a session

  1. Jessica Aberle says:

    The session I would like to propose regards graduate education in Art & Architectural History for the 21st century. How can we make graduate students more competitive on the market? Should they have classes on DH, grant writing, job applications, teaching, social media, InDesign/Photoshop, GIS, etc- skills, perhaps? How do we balance these skills or new approaches to scholarship with a more traditional approach? Or do we need to? Should grad students be encouraged to produce a DH project that may be more collaborative in nature rather than the long form thesis/dissertation? What would that project look like? How would it be evaluated? What types of resources/support would a grad student need?

  2. Renee says:

    A general discussion about teaching art history online — what are some best practices? What are tools we can use? What do people’s courses look like? What skills do we want online art history students to learn? Is this a moment to rethink how we approach survey classes?

  3. jdecker1 says:

    I am interested in discussing, and learning more, about circuits of access: what avenues are the best (most effective, friendliest-for-beginner, low-to-no cost) means for gathering materials to incorporate into my own digital art history spectrum. And, related, what is an effective means of keeping access open and long-term for continued re-use. Here, I am thinking of storage. Rather than taking a powerpoint to the classroom, or a sleeve of notes, what am I carrying with me to the face-to-face, blended, or wholly online teaching experience (a CMS platform such as Moodle or Blackborad, another space in the cloud, saved bookmarks/tabs on a web browser, other means)?

  4. Paula Gabbard says:

    This is an issue near and dear to me, but I’m happy to hear other issues and participate anyway that might be useful.

    When I consider purchasing electronic art books from our library vendor, there is no indication anywhere on the website whether images in the book have been redacted. I can preview a certain number of pages on the vendor’s website, but if I don’t happen to run across a page where an image is supposed to be before the preview ends, I won’t
    know whether all the images are there or not. Previewing to find out if I’m getting what I’d be paying for can take up to 5 minutes, and in the end, I still may not know.

    Art librarians have complained to the library vendors who say they receive their metadata from e-book distributors, and can’t possibly do the work to see if all the images are there and add this into their records given the volume they work with. E-book distributors make the exact same claim—they say they receive their metadata from publishers, and can’t possibly review each title to modify the metadata when
    images have been redacted. Publishers are typically indifferent to our frustrations because they are not often very enthusiastic about the idea of libraries acquiring electronic art books in the first place.

    If I do buy an electronic art book, and discover images have been redacted, I can’t “return” the purchase. The final insult: catalogers have explained they too have no time to discover the problem, so when the electronic record appears in our online catalogs,
    there is no hint that the book is incomplete.

    Frankly, I’ve heard image related frustrations from readers in other fields too: scientists have complained that e-books sometimes have graphs and charts that are too small to be eye readable, with no mechanism for making them big enough to read.

    How can librarians and scholars work together to pressure publishers to supply e-book vendors more honest meta-data about the electronic books they are offering?

  5. Nancy Ross says:

    I like the idea of an art history online best practices session.

  6. S Falls says:

    I’d like to talk about how distance education will move us further away from early technologies that replicated the slide and closer to those that are more experiential. In particular, how can studio courses be taught online? And are there technologies for teaching art history in a different way? Do these new pedagogies alter and/or expand teaching methodologies? And in terms of nuts and bolts, how do libraries archives (or should they) the media parts of online learning? Sorry for all the questions– obviously, this should be a general discussion!

  7. I’d also be very interested in a discussion of the pedagogy of teaching art history online. Additionally, I’d be more than happy to discuss how conceives itself as a new tool for learning outside of more traditional art-historical information formats (texts, lectures).

  8. I’d like to propose a working session around ImagePlot ( or another similar tool. How does software like this, which can visualize large sets of images in numerous ways, shape the kinds of inquiries, analyses, and projects that art historians pursue? I propose that the theoretical/methodological discussion combine with using ImagePlot or another tool, to really pick apart how it works and the strengths/limitations by working through a set of images, how to set parameters for this kind of approach with either attributes of the works themselves (saturation of color, brightness, etc) and/or existing metadata about the images.

  9. Suz says:

    Hi, everyone.

    I propose a general discussion session focused on the research process and on the role technology plays in each step of that process. How do specific technologies complement or change an artist’s or art historian’s methods for creating an end product? What technologies are on his or her wish list for future research projects?



  10. Gwen says:

    I would like to discuss how museums are using technology to further the study of art history. Museums can use these technologies to promote their own collection (see for example:, as well as the study of art history in general (see for example: How do different museums approach this? Are there any best practices? How are big museums approaching this, versus small museums?

    Also, I’m particularly interested in how museum libraries are embracing these technologies. There are really two sides to this question. First, what technologies (journal databases, OPACs, online indexes, digital collections, etc.) are they using to support research? And second, what technologies can be used to instruct library users?

  11. Arezoo Moseni says:

    Libraries and E-books
    As e-books are mushrooming, what is the role of higher education institutions and leading public libraries in art and architecture e-book publishing? Do they have a responsibility to set and share the best standards that would eliminate the current problems? Libraries continue to struggle with reinventing themselves and creating a new range of services that are at times competing with museum services. Since the late 1990s, libraries have been engaged in digitizing and sharing their special collections as they ponder digital preservation issues. Should they change gears and consider e-book publishing as a major component of their mission? Should they collaborate and form a consortium with art museums publications to oversee and generate the best and most innovative practices in art/architecture e-book publishing? How can students as e-book users be involved in this process? How can educators and librarians who are in direct contact with potential e-book users advance the level and love of learning about art and architecture history through the use of e-books? What are the accessibility, financial and social ramifications?

  12. SBrisman says:

    The Internet and the Printed Image: Problems and Possibilities

    The distribution of printed images, a communication technology of the 15th century, and the internet, have several features in common, such as their abilities to share information, and opinions among audiences who otherwise might not connect.
    This session has two purposes. The first is to share resources that allow for the study of printed images online, and second, to discuss how these resources open new avenues of scholarship, or set limitations on the study of printed images. The outcome will be some understanding of the intersection of online images and print scholarship, and the formulation of suggestions of how to make resources more useful to historians of prints.

  13. Beth Gersh-Nesic says:

    I would like to participate in a session on teaching online. I teach online for two different colleges on two different platforms: Moodle and Blackboard. And I would like to participate in a session that considers teaching art history conceptually, using the students’ ease with “curating” to express themselves. Is anyone encouraging projects on YouTube, wikis, Pinterest, or something completely new.

  14. Aure Moser says:

    Art Genome Projects

    Perhaps this has already been proposed, but I’m interested in running a working session on new tools for managing art knowledge online, anything from the semantic web graphs and ontologies for art collections to social networks coordinated around art tastemaking algorithms. I’m interested in predictive modeling of collections management and retrieval as well as new systems for storing, archiving and machine learning to curate art preferences through crowdsourced and content curation math. I’m interested in how people are attempting to diagnose and engineer art taste online focusing on things not strings.

    Some examples of services/art libraries/social collections I’d like to dissect:

    Art Stacked:


  15. Nandi says:

    We would like to propose a session about the challenges and prospects of teaching Latin American, or any non-Western art history, with digital resources. Based on the current available online resources, many of which focus on European or American art, the offerings are limited when it comes to Latin American, Asian, African, and Pacific art. What is the current state of Latin American digital art history? What can we expect going further? Is there a place for non-western art histories in the Digital Humanities? And how can we –as a community of scholars– contribute to the emergence of these resources? This presentation will provide an assessment of pre-existing digital resources in Latin American art history and follow up with ideas for expansion and improvement.

    – Maya Jiménez, Kingsborough Community College (CUNY)
    – Ananda Cohen Suarez (Cornell University)

  16. JBurns says:

    I propose a discussion of the
    digitization of manuscripts, illuminated and/or printed. This topic could
    relate to a couple of the early posts regarding the use of museum libraries in
    aiding research, as well as the post regarding the study of printed images
    online. I would like to engage with questions of virtuality and materiality,
    aesthetic experience, and preservation and exhibition. New technologies are
    making manuscripts widely available through online collections and therefore
    lifting the previous limitations on viewing these works. In the past the only
    way of studying them in full was in person or through photographed slides. We
    are still in the process of discovering how to use new digital resources to
    their full advantage, as well as encountering the problems that accompany
    digital preservation. These digital collections from libraries or museums aid
    research but at the same time provide a new manner of viewing, altering the
    visceral engagement with manuscripts. How and why does technology change the
    reception of these works and in what way does it further the study of art

  17. Abram Fox says:

    I’d like to propose a general discussion session on
    gamification, or “the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in
    non-game contexts” (thanks, Wikipedia). The term has been a subject of debate,
    and so in particular I’m interested in discussing how games principles can be
    used to earnestly enhance and transform the educational experience – see the
    productive examples from Anastasia Salter (
    and The Pericles Group’s two year sequence for teaching middle school Latin (–
    while avoiding the “easy and repeatable bullshit” warned against by Ian Bogost
    What are ways in which art history, a colorful, dynamic, bold discipline, is
    best suited to encourage the act of play as a pedagogical practice? And what
    are some digital tools that can best be
    utilized or repurposed toward that end?

  18. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis says:

    I am also interested in discussing how do we make DH projects (online archives, etc) an more recognized part of the study of art, architecture and archaeology – how can we as faculty and students make / get departments, major learned societies, to see these projects as being worth as much as the traditional monograph. Science departments already recognize the ability of someone to get grants or innovative work, etc, but the humanities still often want the monograph – the traditional way of doing things – does this need to be a top down process or how can we change things from the bottom up? Would creating prizes (like a best dissertation prize) recognizing outstanding digital work that is innovative help this? Some learned societies (like the Society of Architectural historians) have already done this to an extend with a prize for the best digitally enhanced article. Or are there other ways to do this?

  19. Alex Brey says:

    Working Session: Visualizing Data for Art History

    I’d like to propose a working session to develop a data visualization using D3: . We could start by looking at some visualizations made with D3 and a brief overview of the library’s strengths, as well as a discussion of illustrative vs. analytical visualizations (brush up on your Tufte!). Then we could get into brainstorming meaningful visualizations and hacking on a preliminary visualization that I’ve been working on, either of the conservation data from a medieval manuscript or of something else that I come up with between now and the camp, possibly geospatial.

    D3 also excels at presenting streaming data, so part of this workshop could be exploring the applications of dynamic visualizations in a field which is perceived as static, even by many of its practitioners.

    Warning: I am an art historian who took a year of Java, NOT a computer scientist. I’ll do my best, but I can’t guarantee my explanations will be lucid, or even correct. Javascript and the Document Object Model still baffle me sometimes. This is the wild west of digital humanities, so be ready to get your hands dirty with some code in github.

  20. Alex Brey says:

    Writing Session: Illustrating the New Art History

    In the past, art publishers have pushed the limits of the industry to incorporate new technologies ranging from chromolithography to facsimile-quality color separations into their books. Debates about image rights in ebooks, however, have pushed art publishers to the back of the digital innovation line.

    While the photo is far from dead, new technologies for representing objects and art historical data are popping up every day. Examples include:

    Deep zooming:
    Hybrid 2D/3D models:
    Photorealistic models:
    And navigable virtual environments:

    How can we integrate these new technologies into digital publications in exciting and meaningful ways – ways that will make the institutions hoarding image reproduction rights super jealous! How might giving readers the ability to zoom or explore virtual spaces necessitate changes in the way we write? Come write an illustrated manifesto with me!

  21. I would also like to propose a general discussion session on how new publishing technologies, such as SCALAR ( can be utilized for art historical scholarship. This session would function as a means to brainstorm ideas about how we, as art historians, can push our scholarship forward through novel publishing technologies.

  22. Carl Schmitz says:

    Fixing on best practices might be a great way to focus the conversation. Assuming the group will include those operating in roles across (and outside) the instruction spectrum, this context could uniquely valuable.

  23. I’m most interested in the intersection between technology and art history pedagogy, particularly in the classroom as opposed to teaching art history online. I’d like to propose a working session on innovative use of technology in the classroom. Now that software such as Panopto has become widely available on campus, I’ve been considering “flipping the classroom” (where students would engage in interactive presentations at home before coming to class, in substitution of the traditional in-class lecture/discussion). I can see the great advantage in providing background instruction in a more dynamic way and in advance of class time, since in reality, sad as it may be, very few students actually read textbooks. What would the “flipped” art history in-person class time look like? It could become quite experiential and exploratory since students interacting with presentations before class would reduce the in-class time limitations that certain technologies present. What are some potential roles of technology in that new dynamic class time? What kinds of experiences and activities (using technology to various degrees) would build on the at-home interactive presentation? What are those resources? And what are some things to consider when designing those interactive at-home presentations? Of course this discussion is pertinent to those who do not plan on “flipping the classroom.” Even within a more traditional model of in-class instruction, how can technology be used more efficiently?

  24. Paulina says:

    i would like to explore how other academic departments, specifically the library, can support projects/teaching that faculty members are involved with.

  25. nfinzer says:

    I am interested in discussing the incorporation of faculty research and digital humanities projects into the digital repository. In the past being a Visual Resources Librarian has meant managing images for faculty and now it encompasses managing an array of digital assets. How best can librarians work with faculty to ensure their needs are being met?

  26. nfinzer says:

    I am interested in discussing the incorporation of faculty research and digital humanities projects into the digital repository. In the past being a Visual Resources Librarian has meant managing images for faculty and now it encompasses managing an array of digital assets. How best can librarians work with faculty to ensure their needs are being met?

  27. Martha Hollander says:

    I’m also very interested in a session about both online and hybrid teaching. Currently I use Blackboard as “one-stop shopping” for all course info and materials and the gradebook. I also ARTSTOR, and supplement classroom time with BB blogs and Voicethreads. I’m also experimenting with the traditional “big-screen” model in various ways, having students generating the images themselves, via searches, during class, etc. Their assignments often involve curatorial projects in any form thei choose: powerpoints, videos, Tumblr, etc.

  28. Martha Hollander says:

    Hi Jenny, this sounds like the session Renee has proposed (above). I’m experimenting with online/classroom combinations and other issues you’re describing. I’ve got the some of same questions. I hope we’ll all end up in a workshop!

  29. Martha Hollander says:

    What an interesting idea. I’ve been thinking about it ever since my teenaged son introduced me to Portal and Assassin’s Creed. Seriously. I entirely agree that there should be a way to introduce gaming ideas into teaching, without having to be code experts ourselves – and without ending up with so-called “educational games” which, according to my informants, are generally a yawn.

  30. Martha Hollander says:

    As someone working on both a monograph and a DH project, I’m interested in this too. A search for “grants digital humanities” yields nothing beyond NEH startups for institutions. I wonder how the DH-status issue dovetails with the topics of a) e-books, and b) illustrating digital art history, both proposed below. My project, for example, is an online illustrated translation, somewhere between an e-book and a website, with archival aspects built in. What is it? Who will “own” or host it? How do I get some funding support for it? And so on.

  31. Laetitia says:

    I’d be interested in this, especially if we were to address not just online teaching, but our approach to digital tools in the survey more generally. Blended courses seem to be more common than online ones still, but what are the new tools people are using that go beyond the mere translation of the slide lecture into digital side-by-side PPT presentations? Assignments that capitalize on digital media? Best practices, yes and skills, but does anyone have outcome assessments?

  32. Laetitia says:

    I firmly believe the cinder-block survey textbook is obsolete (and has been for ages), but what are the techniques and tools for teaching content without the book? Data I collected in 2004 suggested students stopped coming to lecture when we posted all the digital images online, but now we are all posting at least required images for tests (if not those from each PPT) in Luna, ARTStor etc. But images without content are useless. What other tools are people using besides the lecture (or podcast) and the digital ‘database’ of prescribed images? Is there a better toolkit than just stuffing the digital equivalent of the slide lecture and monument list into course management systems? (I don’t see students at this level reading scholarly articles.) I think some of this connects with Renee’s post on best practices and approaches to the survey, but I’d like to explore this in hybrid or blended classes, not just online.

  33. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis says:

    I would also like to discuss this – I have a book I am finishing too and I have been trying to think about where to house the “archive” of my materials associated with the project that will not go into the book but may be of interest to other scholars / students. So a slightly different concern but connected

  34. alhelmreich says:

    Proposed Session: If we understand that digital humanities is composed of these four general areas of analysis:

    a) text analysis

    b) image analysis

    c) spatial analysis

    d) network analysis

    I believe a session in which we could could brainstorm together significant and
    worthy research questions that could be answered using one (or more) of these
    methodologies (and then, if time permits, figuring out what tools, if any, exist
    to do the proposed project.)

    Some sites that might be useful for opening up the discussion re. methodologies and tools:

    Digital Research Tools/Project Bamboo:

    Digital Humanities Methodologies at Oxford:

    Stanford University, Digital Humanities:

    If I had to priority rank- I would put text analysis first because I am
    frankly surprised that art history has not taken this up more readily given how
    heavily we rely upon text-based sources.

  35. thatcampcaa says:

    Posting on behalf of Claire Kovacs:

    I would like to propose a general discussion session on how digital technology can be utilized within methodological approaches to art history – brainstorming applications, appropriate software, etc. I am particularly interested in how various Geographic Information Systems, SEASR (, or Network Workbench ( can be utilized to map out data and assist in analyzing art historical data. Perhaps this session could be linked somehow to the proposed sessions on D3, museum technologies and ImagePlot software.

  36. Jared Simard says:

    Hi Jessica, I would like to contribute to this proposal session. I recently presented on DH skill sets at the CUNY IT Conference. To begin, is time spent learning a new tool or software time away from research? As more graduate students and faculty researchers enter the field of digital humanities, does a more centralized effort best dispense knowledge to an inherently multi-disciplinary community. Is collaboration among digital humanists the answer? As Ramsay so provocatively put it, is learning coding/programming languages necessary for digital humanists to build? Assuming a certain proficiency is, how can we, as a community, facilitate the acquisition of that knowledge? How can we harness modern pedagogy in language instruction and apply that to the current fleet of self-learning tools such as W3schools ( or Codecademy ( Do we want to confront the economic model that coders/programmers operate under or find a collaborative solution within the vision of DH? Will we all need to apply for big grants to pay programmers to build beautiful tools and websites for our DH projects or can we disrupt that model? I look forward to participating in this conversation.

  37. Jared Simard says:

    And from the perspective of doctoral students, how can we help faculty members to allow/accept digital humanities projects as dissertations, or even accommodate dissertations and research with digital components? Do/Will digital projects count towards tenure and promotion? How much of this is dependent upon generational differences?

  38. Kimon Keramidas says:

    I would love to be involved in a conversation such as this. It might also be valuable to think about how and why hybrid and online provide different challenges for art history pedagogy. We have been doing a wide range of work in creating alternative digital media assignments over the past three years at the BGC and I would both love to share that work and here what others are doing.

  39. Kimon Keramidas says:

    I think one of the reasons that art history has seemingly not taken up digital humanities work is that much of so-called DH work has stemmed from work being done by historians and researchers in English programs, disciplines that are far more text-based than art history. Rather than adhere to these already establish methodologies, I would like to see if we could ask the question of whether Digital Humanities as a movement satisfactorily addresses the needs of scholars of both visual and material culture, and if it doesn’t how can art historians start experimenting with and developing their own methodologies that best exploit digital media. In particular, I think that art historians could lend a critical eye to a sudden fascination in visualizations that are often taken at face-value in their ability to actually deliver valuable information and make a cogent argument.

  40. Christine Sundt says:

    A discussion of how to make art history and other humanities fields more dynamic in electronic or online texts — beyond what we can do with images — is my suggestion for a discussion topic. With electronic resources such as ebooks and early periodicals, which allow us to go to freely accessible historic versions of important texts (Google Books, HathiTrust, Internet Archives, Project Gutenberg), why are we still quoting and referencing materials that are on library shelves or in deep storage in archives? Could we make better use of electronic resources and perhaps excite readers with a more dynamic presentation of our research findings? I’m also thinking of how this type of access opens up resources to those who read our books and articles but who do not have access to great libraries. It’s more than just providing better access to images, which we can also do more creatively; we must start thinking about how to bring this field to life in ways that are currently possible, but which we haven’t fully explored or exploited.

  41. Marian says:

    I would like to propose a discussion session on the steps to establish and maintain a DH project, especially at institutions where there is not an infrastructure already in
    place to help faculty and students. What can art historians do to get a project stated, get training, find collaborators, find funding, negotiate where and how their projects will be
    stored and disseminated? What resources are out there to help?

    Let’s share experiences: I’ve been to an NEH-funded training institute, have had some success working with librarians and historical institutions on beginning a project; what has worked for others?

  42. Anne McClanan says:

    There are so many great ideas posted already, I’m very excited about being part of our conversations in February. Of the ones mentioned already, I’m especially interested in the gamification and online art history pedagogy threads. I see them as potentially very related since it’s the social/interactive aspect of the gamified content-presentation model that I think might be most readily deployed in our online teaching. Anyway, I have a few art history/digital humanities projects underway and if anyone else is working on an educational art history iPad app please post here so maybe we can get a working session going.

  43. Holly Hatheway says:

    I am interested in DH projects that intersect the humanities with social science tools. In particular, architectural history projects that also include information like user surveys, use studies of space, renovation and preservation materials, and anthropological studies. As librarian and administrator I hope to explore how to bring these disciplines together from a project management point of view.

  44. Nancy Ross says:

    I would like to propose the following session/workshop, which ties in with some of the previous comments.

    Ditching the Textbook: A Primer

    Talk is cheap and this workshop is for action. The workshop will have two parts: 1) identify the essential components of a digital textbook-replacement for a survey-level art history class and 2) assemble the essential components for a digital survey textbook.

    By the end of the workshop, all participants will have an understanding of how to create a digital textbook, experience in creating one, and will leave the workshop with a skeleton textbook that can be expanded and adapted for individual use.

  45. laetitia says:

    I’d like to participate in such a session on graduate education. My own concern is less about adding on (Jessica lists so much here) and more about how we take what we consider indispensable skills for the art historian and talk about how these ‘translate’ to the new digital environment. In 2006, ARTLIS provided a list of competencies (skills) they identified for what they called ‘design’ students (studio, architecture and art history) which might form a base line to build on.
    I see at least 2 (prob more) avenues of discussion branching from this:

    1) how graduate education has changed (or more likely hasn’t and should–Art History is a tremendously conservative field in the Humanities) but outliers and models would be great to learn about–i suspect we may want to look abroad

    2) what change might be feasible within the current parameters? I would like to start small(er) and look at Masters programs, not just PhD granting institutions, since I see MA programs by definition as dealing with a set of students with broader interests (and influence), whose impact could perhaps be more important because of that range.

  46. Alex Brey says:

    Much art historical data is in fact textual, so I think art historians still have a lot to learn from historians working with data (especially stuff like the Oxyrhynchus papyri Ancient Lives project, and this kind of thing: ). The tools for working with digital images are out there too, but they pose important methodological questions — what should be the role of Morellian scholarship within our discipline, especially in an age in which technical analysis (multi-spectral imaging and chemical analysis of organic and inorganic materials) has called into question the validity of such approaches The numeracy that writing image processing algorithms requires is also much more sophisticated than that required by textual analysis, so the barrier for adoption is a lot higher. As for visualizations, I would argue the fascination is hardly sudden ( ), and I don’t think anyone is seriously questioning their usefulness in exploratory data analysis. Clearly conveying evidence and articulating an argument is a challenge no matter what tools you are using or how you combine them.

  47. Ellen says:

    I do use games in class. The one that I am most interested in developing was originally designed to help students recognize Rembrandt’s evolving style: “Which One Is Rembrandt?” (Yes, I am going to have to work on the name. “Conquer Rembrandt”? Destroy him?) It consists of a sequence of about 80 slide comparisons (it goes quickly at first). We begin with a comparison of a self-portrait by Rembrandt and one by Rubens and students have to guess which one is the Rembrandt. The comparisons becoming increasingly subtle until we reach history paintings the RRP was still debating even as it was shut down (this is when the class discussion picks up). I have other series as well—from Caravaggio to Manet. My hope it is that this exercise not only promotes familiarity with the artist’s oeuvre but also hones skills in connoisseurship and just plain careful looking. I have been in contact with game designers about producing at-home versions (so the students can play this instead of reading a textbook) in which the comparisons change randomly (so there never is the same sequence) and the level of difficulty depends on the previous answer (if the student keeps getting the answers wrong, they remain at level one, trying to see the difference between, say, Rubens and Rembrandt). As you can determine from the laborious description, I have never played a video game in my life and no nothing about the technologies that might support this program; hence, I am looking for input.

    Ideally, the “game” would be expanded to include short entries about the individual works, so that if an image interested a student, he or she could clink on the image and access useful information.There would be a drop-down menu or a sidebar so that students could access the exact information they wanted, from subject matter or sitter to patron. I am wondering if such a game/resource could overlap with museum websites (perhaps link to their catalog entries) and photo archives (perhaps link to records in the RKD and the Frick Art Reference Library) although I suspect copyright would be a problem. What I am hoping for in the short run is a replacement of the survey textbook (which a number of participants have noted is not working anymore); in the long run, I am hoping for an interactive technology that will encourage students to see the production and consumption of art as a complex system rather than the mastering of facts. So, this is a very long way of saying—I would really like to attend this session, please. It would be a great help to learn what others think of this. I also would be grateful for any input regarding the re-purposing of museum online collections from those interested in museum education and technology. And if anyone interested in reworking the survey has any ideas about the text, I would be excited to hear from you. (Could such a non-linear approach to providing information, i.e. clicking away on images and sidebars, thus allowing the student to access the information they find interesting, work? Is this anarchy?) And, finally, if there is interest, perhaps Marian might be lured into offering ideas for funding?

  48. Celka Straughn says:

    Perhaps for either a general discussion or working session, I would be interested to hear ideas and suggestions for how to make use of museum databases for a research projects. I am working on (in the very early stages) an exhibition project of our founding collection (about 7,000 objects) and want to draw what information we have in the collections database and then use that to begin the creation of a larger database to understand the purchasing/collecting patterns of objects that come from across the globe. More generally, I’d like to know if others are making use of existing collections databases and what they are doing, how to make to use these existing resources for developing new digital projects without reinventing a database.

    I am also curious to learn what others might doing using digital object images and what kinds of questions they are asking, what they are learning.

  49. Kim Richter says:

    I too would like to discuss and learn more about digital art
    history as it relates to text and image analysis (and I appreciate the links
    others have posted about this topics already!). It would be useful to start by
    seeing what other disciplines are doing in these fields and how art history can
    harness these digital tools to answer art-historical questions. As others have
    mentioned, a lot of our research consists of textual analysis, and I would expect
    that we can learn from other disciplines in the humanities how they have
    devised and employed digital tools. Of particular interest would be how to deal
    not only with printed text, but also with paleographic and epigraphic texts.

    However, as an art historian, who works on ancient art in
    the Americas, where many cultures did not use a writing system, I find the
    analysis of images particularly pertinent. In some case, the pictorial and
    iconographic systems that emerged in the various cultures were so standardized and
    conventionalized that scholars have likened them to texts; indeed these systems
    frequently also had linguistic components. Could digital tools developed for
    the analysis of texts be reconfigured and applied to such visual systems of “writing”?
    Another aspect is the visualization of art, which can support and advance the
    digital analysis of images. What interesting projects are already underway? And
    how can we as art historians advance this field, which seems to be used more by
    archaeologists and conservators?

    UCLA Visualization Portal:
    3D Scanning Project at Copan by Peabody Museum:

  50. Piotr says:

    What hooks should we be building into open data?

    Museum web staff are creating open repositories of collections information. Making it available through APIs, as downloadable data, or through code repositories like Github. These are often intended for the hacker/maker community rather than a curatorial/art-research audience. The makers know how to manipulate the data for their purposes, but often their non-subject-matter-expert created projects have little lasting impact — it’s a cool one-off but the institution and external researchers take little notice.

    Of course, it makes sense. The web staff often have little interaction with research staff, and researchers wouldn’t know how to work with the datasets. But what are the actual data requirements of researchers? What atomic elements from collection records are actually needed? (Everything isn’t a valid answer.) What kinds of machine processing are most common on aggregate data?

    Should the improvements be on the database side? Should the tech-savvy staff be expected to bake-in some linguistic analysis into new summary data tables? Maybe some summary statistics? Precomputed visualizations?

    Should the enhancements be to the API? Should the responsibility be on the part of the researchers to learn enough to be dangerous with more powerful API calls? More than just pulling down names and dates, but learning enough programming to be able to create compelling tools without having the tech staff presuppose their needs?

  51. I am interested in art history pedagogy and technology. The discourse of Digital Humanities, while gathering momentum throughout the academy, still seems to be focused largely on linguistic and literary studies. Even the many exciting new tools and technologies that seem to come on line almost daily are nearly always text-based. I would like to talk with other art historians about how they are using technology in the classroom to deepen, broaden, and enliven art history teaching. The students I teach will not be going on to study art history at the graduate level, they may take only one or two courses in art history, so I’d like to make it meaningful for them while I have them. What ARE the tools out there for us? Or what tools do we need to build?

  52. Michael Young says:

    I am interested in a collaborative compilation of maximalist applications of digital power to the study and teaching of Art History that will restore it to its rightful place as the Mistress Science of historical disciplines. Examples:

    Sistine Chapel (or any ensemble of wall and ceiling frescoes)-preliminary drawings, sinopie or cartoons. giornate, additions al secco, relation of the space to liturgy and liturgical calendar, Orlande de Lassus’ Prophetiae sibyllarum listened to and analyzed alongside Michelangelo’s sibyls, relation of ceiling to Julius tomb projects, of ceiling to walls and tapestries, of Michelangelo’s to Raphael’s prophets, study of texts of sermons preached there.

    Lustreware ceramics-the nature of the clay and glazes and their sources and dissemination routes revealed on digital maps, the structure of the kiln, its heat and smell, cost and workings, sound and appearance; the nature of a failed pot, of which there were many for every successful one, the contents of the finished vessels, contemporary documents that mention them

    A Baroque church or chapel-Examine simultaneously its design, its patron, the music performed in it, the sermons preached in it, its stylistic formal antecedents, its non-ecclesiastical, aristocratic prototypes, the relics it contained, the pilgrims these attracted, the subsequent buildings it influenced, its decoration, furniture and structural logic.

    I propose a session which can produce specific, detailed templates such as have been hastily sketched above.

    The value of digital tools is that they are not single purpose: the same components in a web site or digital collection can be unpacked for pedagogical use and scholarly presentation in the lecture room, the laboratory or in the creation of a one-time, albeit replicable, spectacle, with the goal of achieving optimal practice of Art History in all its Baxandallian richness.

  53. Kimon Keramidas says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that visualizations were new (just did a great session on the timeline in my course semester), more that visualizations are much easier to algorithmically produce than before with tools like D3 and Gephi and they are being used and championed at a increased rate across the humanities without a lot of critical analysis of how effective these new visualizations are. They feel flashy and complex in their automatedness and density but often lack in substantial revelation of ideas.

    In general my response was to the place of art history at places like the annual Digital Humanities conference and the NEH ODH startup grants which are often lacking in art historical work and are places where the critical eye of art historians could be valuably applies.

  54. Alex Brey says:

    So it seems, based on Kim Richter’s post below, that it might be useful to split this up into multiple sessions, at least with one dedicated to working with textual data and one to quantitative image analysis, just because the principles behind the two are so different. It would also be really cool to have a discussion of spatial and network analysis, which are kind of raster and vector variations on the same theme. I wish we had more time!

  55. Kim Collins says:

    First, I would love to learn more agile project management TIPS. Having worked on a
    digital art history project or two, I feel we simultaneously spend too much
    time and not enough time defining roles and clarifying needs. Is this just the cost of collaboration, or has someone figured out a way to streamline this process?

    Secondly, I recently read Victoria Szabo’s article (see below) that argues that database design, as well as data visualization techniques, should now become an integral part of art-historical research and presentation practices. What can we learn from English and History? Are there more CASE STUDIES to share?

    Szabo, Victoria “Transforming Art History Research with Database Analytics: Visualizing Art Markets “Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North AmericaVol. 31, No. 2, Fall 2012, (pp. 158-175)
    DOI: 10.1086/668109
    Stable URL:

  56. Nancy Ross says:

    I suggested a session, somewhere below, during which we would create the skeleton of a digital survey-level textbook. Is this the kind of thing you would be interested in?

  57. Nancy Ross says:

    I would love to discuss dynamic electronic resources as a component of a a survey-level digital art history textbook. See my proposed session above.

  58. Eve S. says:

    I’m also eager to learn more about gamification. I’m interested from a
    museum and publications pov. As we think about the digital future of art
    books (and exhibitions), I wonder: might a future digital art book use gaming
    structures as a model? How would that look? What would make it still be a book (if we care)?

    Like others, I first saw the potential of gaming for art history through
    recent games like Assassin’s Creed, but I’m not from the generation
    that grew up with gaming as an integral part of the culture. I’m struck
    by the sheer visual beauty and detail of recent games, but discouraged
    by the (for me) tedious nature of the gameplay. AFAIK the basics of
    games remain: scoring points, beating enemies, and episodic storytelling
    via battles. How might these structures inform the art exhibition, the
    art book?

    What could an art museum exhibition learn from the structures and interaction patterns of games–from simple RPGs to massively multiplayer games? I dunno…I’m imagining a beloved and popular exhibition (King Tut? Alexander McQueen? All the Monets in the world?) getting revisited by its fans through Let’s Play recaps, not to mention fanfic retellings of the show’s narrative, Photoshop manip contests . . .

    And I’m interested in what these folks are doing, though the focus seems to be on K-12:

  59. Laetitia says:

    Yes, Nancy. Hope this gets to you-please confirm receipt?

  60. Nancy Ross says:

    Got it!

  61. Doralynn Pines says:

    I would like to see a general session about the creation, preservation and archiving of “born-digital” art information. I am interested in organizations and individuals who are creating content and particularly who is interested (or not) in its preservation and access.

  62. Virginia Spivey says:

    I’d also like to participate in this conversation, but I hope we can make distinctions between on-line courses, and courses that are taught in the classroom, but which employ technology in innovative and more pedagogically effective ways. I’m especially interested in how we can use technology to improve the traditional classroom experience, while also making the most of the advantages inherent to the traditional classroom (peer to peer learning ops, flexibility to engage different topics as they emerge in discussion, etc). I agree that this demands we rethink the standard slide lecture as a primary means of content delivery. As I’ve started flipping more and lecturing less, I’m still struggling with the best way to show slides (powerpoint seems too tied to a lecture narrative, and I’d like students to be able to draw from their own visual data banks more for images to share in discussion) As Jenny says above–how do we best use time in class and how does that build toward a new (and improved) class structure?

  63. Victoria H.F. Scott says:

    Writing Session: How can technology be used to improve the working conditions of art historians everywhere?

    Art history and the humanities are under attack in an education system and culture under intense pressure to conform to an economic model. How can new technologies be used to permanently reverse this situation? How can new tools help us to improve the working conditions of art historians everywhere and aggressively expand the discipline globally? How can we use the Internet to affirm the centrality of the humanities, but particularly art history, not only to the mission of colleges and universities everywhere, but to the development and growth our communities and all our collective and individual endeavors?–5ScYrU

  64. Monica Bowen says:

    I am a latecomer who was just able to register off of the wait list. I would like to propose a general discussion session on art history blogging. I’d love to discuss issues and ideas relating to scholarly art history blogs, particularly in how blogs can incite discussion or share new information. I would also be interested to discuss not only why art history seems to be a comparatively slow discipline in creating many art history blogs, but how we can change the current status quo.

    I would also like to discuss ways in which students can maintain art history blogs that are insightful and academically challenging. I have assigned my online students to maintain art history blogs for the past several academic quarters, but I am continually looking for ways to make these assignments meaningful and yet also beneficial from an academic perspective.

    Are there any bloggers out there?

  65. I agree, Martha! But, as Virginia said below, I think it would be helpful to make distinctions between on-line courses and courses that are taught in the classroom with an on-line component to it, as would be the case in a “flipped classroom” model. Maybe there is a way to address both?

  66. Victoria H.F. Scott says:

    In an email exchange I was having with Diane M. Zorich the issue of a portal or hub or website collecting all the digital art history projects out there came up. Obviously there should be one (several!) but the question was raised about who would ‘vet’ or curate it, or whether it should be a a
    registry (where project directors self identified) etc… I think it should be comprehensive and I think it should be run by art history librarians (working at state schools not private institutions) and that it should be free and available to everyone. Do others have thoughts on this question? It seems to me more of a librarian thing than an art historian thing…

  67. Martha Hollander says:

    Jenny and Virginia, I do agree that it would probably make the most sense to have two separate discussions/workshops: one for fully DL courses, and the other for in-class/hybrid teaching. (I suspect that DL courses are probably easier to create. Several institutions now offer DL best practices courses and workshops, but the ore experimental “fuzzy” in-between teaching isn’t given much attention.)

  68. I’d be really interested in participating in this discussion too, both as an instructor who would like to learn more about online teaching, and in terms of sharing teaching resources online (especially teaching resources specifically geared toward online teaching!).

  69. brinker says:

    This sounds amazing! I am very interested in the digitizing of indigenous cultural heritage (my focus is on Polynesian cultural heritage) and how these online spaces can exist outside the relatively comfortable “museumscape” to into the “global mediascape” contributing to the political reshaping of indigenous authority. Please count me in. 🙂

  70. Alicia says:

    HI Martha (et al.!) . I would also be very interested in a session on hybrid/blended teaching/learning and “flipped” classrooms. I’ve experimented with Voicethread with a lot of success and have used some other digi products like Study Blue (digital flashcard program). I would like to learn more about mapping programs and timeline creation programs.

    But my main interest is in discussing how digital tools can be adapted to enhance the small liberal arts classroom, with ca. 20-50 undergraduates for the intro and intermediate level, topical lecture course.

  71. Alicia says:

    There have been a few projects (at least one I know of that was later suspended) to create a totally digital art history textbook, and I hear that some of the big publishing houses are planning to move to all digital textbooks within the next few (?) years. It might be useful to have some people involved with these projects at THAT camp. Is anyone in the group already working with publishers on all-digital textbooks?

    I would also be interested to hear from people already involved in these projects about how they imagine the various interactive and study tool components in this products actually working in the classroom. What was the logic in the design of the interactive/study components and how do the people who designed them use them in their own teaching?

  72. Alicia says:

    This is fascinating. I would love to talk more about this idea and to see it in action. I can easily see how this could be very effectively extrapolated to any subfield of art history and used for not just prompting students to id images but also for them to reflect on more fundamental questions in the discipline.

  73. Paul Jaskot says:

    I agree, this sounds like a great conversation. I would like to learn from Kimon and others what you are doing with digital assignments as well as alternative delivery models (does the flipped classroom work for AH?). I’m in the beginning stages of developing an intro DH art history course at DePaul, and am interested to hear what people think works, which programs are most accessible, etc.

  74. Paul Jaskot says:

    Given that there has been a spate of interesting art historical research involving spatial analysis, I would be very interested in (c). What are the mapping and digital reconstruction models currently in use (e.g., What are the questions that they raise for art history? And (my personal favorite) how are questions of scale essential for both spatial thinking and pretty much any DH project in the classroom or in our research?

  75. Paul Jaskot says:

    a related issue might be to use a session to come up with some basic standards for evaluating DH projects that would allow grad students and others to feel that their work was acknowledged in the field as “peer review” quality. (so, related to Jared’s post above as well) If we came out with a set of key issues that constitute quality DH teaching/research, we could present that to CAA and ask them to develop something for their standards and guidelines that might have some weight to it.

  76. Paul Jaskot says:

    Yes! I have long thought this was necessary, first to show that there actually are quite a few AH DH projects out there, and secondly so that each new project doesn’t feel it needs to reinvent the world. I like the art history librarian idea (or a consortium of AH DH folks?) perhaps housed at one of our research center sites like the Getty/CASVA, etc., although it could also be part of a center of AH DH activity, e.g., Duke.

  77. Victoria H.F. Scott says:

    Thank you for your enthusiasm Paul. I do not think the project should be
    connected to a private institution. I think there are problems right
    now with major art history databases in America being associated with
    private institutions. I think it should be developed at a state school or schools. I
    think we need do develop and expand art history and library resources at state schools. After all, that is where it matters the most.

  78. Paul Jaskot says:

    Agreed, if we can get the funding to the schools–sigh….

  79. Tim Kaneshiro says:

    Hi, I’m a recent addition from the waiting list. I’m very interested in issues related to artwork reproduction (digital and otherwise), so this proposal intrigues me— particularly the idea that the reproduction may influence our understanding of the original. I thought of proposing something regarding digitization of artworks in general, but yours may cover some of the topics I’m interested in.

  80. Tim Kaneshiro says:

    Would anyone be interested in discussing online art databases and user-curated virtual collections? I know some museum websites let users create accounts and “collect” works in their online databases, but I wonder whether such a feature is purely for personal enjoyment or whether it could be seriously used for art scholarship. Do museums have any interest in the collections their website users put together? This may tie into some of the other museum-centered sessions.

  81. Susan says:

    I’m hoping that we can spend some time talking about online glossaries and lexica. I wonder what tools others are currently using to produce online glossaries and whether those tools can do more than they appear to–I’d like to see better functionality for supporting multiple voices, revision and editing, inclusion of multimedia content, and linking.

    Though I’m currently managing an online publishing project that has me thinking about the ways in which we can improve the print glossary form online, I also routinely use glossaries in teaching as I find that building a lexicon over the course of a term is an excellent way to surface confusion about terms–particularly art historical or museological ones–and to stimulate discussion amongst classmates about key concepts and ideas. But I’m still waiting for easier-to-use and more robust glossary-building tools for this purpose as well.

    I know that this topic overlaps with some of the others that have been proposed about online publishing and teaching tools and methods–it can, perhaps, be combined in discussion with those.

    Sorry to be so late to the discussion! I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at camp this week, despite my tardiness.

  82. Hans Brandhorst says:

    Linking electronic publications to underlying datasets: quite a normal way of publishing by now in many disciplines. How to make this work for the humanities? Seems to me a crucial issue.

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