Slavic Digital Humanities Pre-Convention Workshop and Events

Slavic Digital Humanities Pre-Convention Workshop and Events

The Slavic Digital Humanities group will hold its second annual pre-convention workshop on the Prozhito ( diary archive. The event will take place from 8:30 to 11:45 AM on November 23 at San Francisco Marriott Marquis. The workshop will bring together DH experts and Slavic scholars. Participants will experiment with the data from Prozhito and discuss how it can be used in research and in the classroom.

In an on-going effort to build a digital ego-document repository, Prozhito has collected over 3,000 diaries and made over 400,000 diary entries available to researchers through the archive search function. The majority of these Russian- and Ukrainian-language diaries encompass the momentous events of the twentieth century, including the Russian revolution and the two World Wars. The next step in Prozhito development is finding new digital tools to assist researchers who wish to work with the archive. Like last year, when the spotlight was on the Post-Soviet ‘90s digital project, the goal of this workshop is to bring together the project founders and the larger community of Slavic and Digital Humanities scholars.

The workshop is open to all ASEEES attendees as well as scholars from the Bay Area wishing to collaborate in a series of experiments designed to develop research questions for the project. Together with Prozhito founder and leader, Misha Melnichenko, three invited experts— Anastasiya Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Academic Supervisor of the Moscow Higher School of Economics (HSE) Computational Linguistics program, Philip Gleissner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at The Ohio State University, and Kelly O’Neill, Harvard University Imperiia Project Director—will showcase digital tools for project data mining. Using a web application developed by Andrew Janco, the experts will conduct microstudies to investigate the genre features of the diary. The workshop organizers and experts hope that by demonstrating distant reading, network analysis, and geospatial analysis methodologies they will promote greater use of both Prozhito archive and digital tools in Slavic studies.

Experiments will focus on identifying the genre elements in the diary descriptions of two types of events: global events and private events. Global events would include the end of World War II in Europe and the first manned spaceflight. Tied to a particular day, these events are easy to locate within the diary, and they are all but guaranteed to be tied to the description of emotions people felt in those historic moments. Private events include things such as the birth of a child, a death in the family, divorce or separation, or the move into a new home. Private events usually invoke a richer emotional response in both diarists and readers. Echoes of events that define the narrative of personal life reverberate through more diary entries than the reaction to global events that tie a person to the life of the nation. After applying their methodologies of choice to the subcorpora of diary entries describing both types of events, the experts and workshop participants will compare and contrast the data obtained with various DH tools. The Prozhito team will then ask for the audience to share the research questions Slavic studies scholars have when using the digital ego-document archive. Audience feedback on the feasibility of adopting DH methodologies for ego-document research and best practices of such multi-tool research will close the workshop and bridge it with the Slavic DH roundtable “Teaching with Digital Humanities: Primary Sources, Methods of Analysis, and Real-World Applications” (Sun, November 24, 10:00 to 11:45am).

The roundtable presenters will discuss their experience of bringing privately held, archived, and published diaries to an audience of students, volunteer transcribers, and the interested public and using digital humanities methods in teaching and analyzing diaries. Misha Melnichenko will present the history of Prozhito as an archival project and talk about Prozhito-led volunteer diary study and transcribing workshops in Russia. Anastasiya Bonch-Osmolovskaya will discuss student practicums HSE has been holding in association with Prozhito in Moscow and the experience of introducing students to transcribing and presenting diaries online. Kelly O’Neill will talk about using digital spatial analysis in teaching and the use of digital methodologies to analyze diaries. Ben Sawyer, the roundtable leader and co-host of the podcast The Road to Now ( will chair the panel and together with his co-producer Bob Crawford will record the roundtable conversation for the podcast.

Please follow our page on Humanities commons for further information about additional Slavic DH events and panels at the ASEEES 2019 convention, including the group business meeting on November 23, a broad roundtable on incorporating DH tools and resources in the classroom at noon on Saturday, a panel on digital migration studies, a panel on the emergence of digital technology in Russia studies, and one on using DH to foster collaborations in Slavic and East European Studies.