Associate Dean of Technology and Online Teaching

A portfolio of materials

My passion for the Associate Dean position is based on my experience as a tech-centered historian and teacher. Technology and online teaching experiences have shaped my practice and made my career. Much of my creative work has been enabled by new tech tools and digital methods. I offer the following summary of some of my projects in tech-centered research and teaching.


Much of my writing is on early Indigenous history and environmental history of the North American Midwest, and I have conducted a good deal of single-author research, including digital research, in this area over the years.

“Facebook Kaskaskia” Project

My first publication using exploratory network analysis was in the William and Mary Quarterly in 2011. It was a first attempt to “unlock” the histories of Indigenous actors in the French colonial archives of the pays des Illinois. In particular it was an exploration of Indigenous women’s participation in baptismal and marriage networks in relationship to a common understanding of those relationships’ meaning and function.

UCINET Software Package:

Final Paper:

Find project files and data here.

Archives of Connection Project

This was a methodological essay focused on the uses and potentials of network analysis for social history. I was coming to understand the uses of network visualization as a research method, although I had yet to think of it in terms of “exploratory” network analysis.

“Archives of Connection” essay, 2015.

Generations of Jesuits Project

Here is an exploratory network analysis focused on the Jesuit missionaries who spent any amount of time with Indigenous Illinois communities at three mission centers in the pays des Illinois, 1672-1780. Since I was studying language acquisition and linguistic ability among these priests, I wanted to get a sense for the history of their careers as a way of critically evaluating what they wrote and the language materials (esp dictionaries) that they created. This visualization allowed me to understand certain things about the longevity of these individuals’ careers and relationships, both among themselves, and with Indigenous communities.

This work was never included in any publications but it informed ongoing research in this theme of linguistic analysis and history. For some writing on this theme see my essay, “‘I Speak it Well'”: Language, Cultural Understanding, and the End of a Missionary Middle Ground in Illinois Country, 1673—1712.

Datasets and visualizations here.

Exploratory Data Analysis Project on Presidential Inaugurations

I took a major step forward with exploratory data methods in Spring 2017, when I was lucky to take a course with Ted Underwood, an extraordinary lit scholar at U of I. Reflecting the can-do mentality of DH in those years, Ted was generously willing to help me conceptualize the adaptation of exploratory methods to historical questions on a modest scale.

Below is my final project for our course “Data Sciences in the Humanities” in Spring 2017. What I especially came to understand in this course were clustering and classifying methods that rely on predictive modeling, or expected frequencies. Such algorithmic analysis provides an extraordinary toolkit that is “naive” and potentially very helpful.

GitHub Repository for the Presidential Inaugural Addresses Project:

Final Essay for the Inaugurations Project:

Reclaiming Stories Project

The Reclaiming Stories project is a collaboration among tribal scholars, cultural education leaders, artists, and academics who are dedicated to the study of early Myaamia and Peewaalia art history and practice, especially hide painting and tattooing. The work is connected to– indeed it is a chapter in– an extraordinary process of cultural reawakening and revitalization among these Indigenous communities over the past two generations. At the heart of this revitalization story is the Miami-Illinois language, which has been reawakened through the work of linguists and experts at the Myaamia Center at Oxford, OH. This language work is the centerpiece of a robust community education program at Myaamia Center and at Miami and Peoria Tribal Headquarters.

Reclaiming Stories.” Focused on traditional hide painting history and practice, the Reclaiming Stories project creates an opportunity for artists and knowledge-makers in these communities to reconnect with their ancestors’ ancient artistic works, even as they revitalize the practices of hide painting and tattooing today.

The language work by the Miami Tribe included the creation of an extraordinary digital project, the Indigenous Language Digital Archive. I apply exploratory digital methods to this archive, as in the example of hide painting vocabulary that we will discuss. While the results are impressionistic, it is clear to me that digital methods help us enhance our understanding of the language archive, clearly the most important window into the meanings and practices we are interested in. In my view, what we “see” with these methods are clusters of meaning and conceptual relationships that unlock aspects of the sources in new ways.

Cytoscape Network Analysis visualizer:

Reclaiming Stories Project Website

Indigenous Language Digital Archive: Miami-Illinois.

Files for my linguistic analysis here.