2021 Conference Program


We wish to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For
thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and
the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many
Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and we are grateful to have the opportunity
to work on this land.


The Critical Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI) is forging a new paradigm of digital humanities scholarship at U of T that emphasizes the issues of power, social justice, and critical theory. As a research workshop and design atelier, the CDHI equips humanities researchers with the technical and design expertise to use digital tools to ask new questions, share new knowledge, and analyze power and inequality in historical perspective, through consultations, workshops, fellowships, seed funding, and more.

This work builds on the successes of the Digital Humanities Network (DHN), which was established in 2016 (Dr. Alex Gillespie, founding Director) to support digital humanities research across all three University of Toronto campuses. We define the digital humanities broadly, to include all the communities and methods, tools, and platform-based approaches often associated with the digital humanities, such as archiving, digitizing, curation, analysis, coding, editing, visualization, mapping, modelling, versioning, and prototyping. We have an inclusive agenda that encompasses interpretive or theoretical work on digitality. We bring together over 80 faculty members, 11 digital scholarship librarians, 10 research staff, and scores of graduate students, undergraduate researchers, and postdoctoral fellows working on over 40 DH research projects and teams.

The CDHI Team:
Dr. Elspeth Brown, Faculty Director
Dr. Danielle Taschereau Mamers, Managing Director
Dr. Elizabeth Parke, Senior Research Associate
Dr. Elisa Tersigni, JHI Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow, 2021-2022
Tanya Rohrmoser, Communications Officer
Iris Chae, Communications Assistant
Dr. Jennifer Ross, Conference Coordinator
Arun Jacob, Community Liaison

Contact the CDHI anytime via email: dhn.admin@utoronto.ca.


Beyond the Toolkit: Exploring Digital and Remote Facilitation in COVID-19 (www.beyondthetoolkit.com)

Andrea Vela Alarcón                                                                         Sarah Switzer                                                                                          Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández
Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, OISE, UTSG                   Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, OISE, UTSG                          Centre for Urban Schooling, OISE, UTSG

Beyond the toolkit is an illustrated and audiovisual web-resource that shares findings and resources as informed by the pilot study and virtual event series, “Community Engagement in COVID-19.” The pilot study explored how community-engaged practitioners (participatory research, community arts, participatory visual methods, and community facilitation) have adapted their participatory work to online and remote settings, as a result of COVID-19, and the unique ethical and pedagogical challenges that arise. We were particularly invested in having conversations about facilitation, as grounded in a social justice framework. The web-resource showcases illustrations (developed out of our findings), videos, and text to support community-engaged practitioners in reflecting on and adapting their facilitation practice to online and/or remote settings. In particular, the resource explores: 1) the ethical commitments practitioners bring to their work; 2) the pedagogical approaches, practices, and strategies for adapting participatory approaches online or remotely; 3) ethical considerations for online/remote community-engaged facilitation; and 4) recommendations and supports for community-engaged practitioners. Illustrations are licensed under creative commons and designed to be used by other communityengaged practitioners in their work.

This project was led by a team of community-based and academic community-engaged practitioners. It was a collaboration between researchers at the Youth Research Lab at OISE, University of Toronto, Neighbourhood Arts Network, the Centre for Community Partnerships (at U of T), Gendering Adolescent AIDS Prevention at New College, and a group of community-engaged practitioners working across community and academic fields. For more information see www.beyondthetoolkit.com.


Paper Session 1: Computing Text and Archive

Thursday, October 21, 1:00-2:25

The Case for “Sieve Reading”: A Two-Pronged Digital Humanist Methodology

Matthew Cormier
English, UTSC

This paper conceptualizes “sieve reading” as a two-pronged digital humanist reading methodology for cultural and especially  iterary texts that, precisely, “places anti-racist, de/anti/postcolonial, feminist, and queer/trans/non-binary work at its core.” To contextualize and exemplify sieve reading as well as to encourage constructive discourse about its potential applications, this paper will draw from my own research experiences in developing it: my initial intention and conceptualization of sieve  reading in my first monograph, Sieve Reading Beyond the Minor (forthcoming UOttawa Press); a collaborative modification of the process for an ongoing, SSHRC IDG-funded project on feminist literary ecologies in Canada; and a re-orientation of it for the purposes of my current postdoctoral work on contemporary apocalyptic fiction in Canada.


Material Histories of the Database in Eighteenth-Century Studies

Lawrence Evalyn
English, UTSC

Eighteenth-century studies is increasingly mediated through large digital archives. However, it is difficult to know what these archives contain. The demographics of digital archives require closer scrutiny because of the likelihood that they recreate or amplify the historic patterns of exclusion which often shape physical archives, such as sexism which undervalues works by  women. I examine four resources — the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), HathiTrust, and the Text Creation Partnership (TCP) corpus — to evaluate the institutional histories which shaped  their collections. I argue that the ‘pragmatic’ commercial and nationalist priorities of these databases have served to devalue authorless works.


The Discourse of Online Restaurant Server Narratives during COVID-19

Tim Gadanidis
Linguistics, UTSG

/r/TalesFromYourServer (TFYS) is a Reddit community where restaurant servers post narratives about experiences they have  at work, often involving interactions or conflicts with customers. I use a combination of qualitative and computational  discourse analysis methods to analyze narratives from TFYS during the COVID-19 pandemic, when servers have been deputized to enforce mitigation policies like masking and distancing. The study seeks to better understand how servers use language to frame their working conditions, resist antiworker ideologies and practices, and build solidarity with other workers through storysharing and venting. I discuss how, in their narratives, servers describe and depict themselves as deploying linguistic styles strategically in order to accomplish their goals at work — which range from presenting themselves as normatively-ideal servers to increase tip income, to obliquely criticizing customers’ rudeness while maintaining plausible deniability, to balancing all of the above while maintaining their own sense of dignity and their own mental well-being.


Elite Families in Babylon During the Reign of Darius I (522–486 BC): A Social Network Analysis Approach

Jinyan Wang
Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, UTSG

The present article aims to explore the power interactions in Babylonian society during the reign of Darius I (522-486 BC), using texts from the archives of nine elite families in Babylon. It examines how the elite families interacted with each other within the city, as well as their relations with external families. Social network analysis (SNA) will be used as a basic tool. A network will be built to observe the patterns of social behavior displayed by different elite groups, the relationship between the roles of individuals and families in communities and their social and economic status. SNA has recently been applied to the cuneiform studies with fruitful results. This project will provide a new application: mapping a network of elites in one city, based on a collection of texts from private archives.

Paper Session 2: Preserving Cultural Heritages

Thursday, October 21, 1:00-2:25

Rethinking Digital Research Infrastructures: Mobilizing the Great Lakes Research Alliance’s Knowledge Sharing Database for the 21st Century

Heidi Bohaker            Shenella Charles          Autumn Epple            Cara Krmpotich                    Carlie Manners              Sheila Wheesk
History, UTSG           History, UTSG               History, UTSG            Museum Studies, UTSG     History, UTSG               History, UTSG

The Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts & Cultures (GRASAC) is a vibrant multi-disciplinary research network whose 500+ members have been researching Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Huron-Wendat cultures of the Great Lakes region of Turtle Island since 2005. GRASAC researchers from Indigenous communities, universities, museums, and archives have worked together to locate, study, and create deeper understandings of Great Lakes arts, languages, identities, territoriality, and governance. GRASAC is two related things: a network of people and a database that digitally reunites Great Lakes materials from around the world, putting heritage items back into relationships with each other and with community members, teachers, researchers, and heritage staff.

This presentation discusses the significant DH challenges we have faced working with different ontologies, trying to reimagine how Eurocentric database structures can effectively care for Indigenous knowledges across multiple different cultures, languages and sovereignties. The different insights and perspectives shared by our team members are a critical praxis for our new database. In this presentation, our RAs will each share a story of the issues and questions raised by their work on the database revitalization project, and the important ethical and pedagogical transformations that occur when we stop thinking of data as objects, but rather as aspects of our relatives to whom we owe a duty of care. Indigenizing the Record involves both a technological reframing and a clear ethical stance, grounded in the treaty and alliance law which lives in the lands and waters of the Great Lakes region.


The Impact of the Transition from Hand Drawing to 3D Recording on Interpretation and Analysis

Philip Sapirstein
Art History, UTSG

The rapid turn to 3D scanning and photogrammetry techniques has raised concerns among archaeologists, architectural historians, and others engaged with cultural heritage about what would be lost if these new tools and practices were to replace traditional forms of hand drawing – especially since the latter are viewed as more thought-provoking than their digital analogues. I will compare the illustration of ancient architecture through analogue and digital means, based on previous experiences with both during fieldwork in Greece. In actual practice, hand-drawing involves much work that significantly distracts attention away from the ancient subject, yet it does require a protracted period of in-person scrutiny and interpretation at the site which 3D imaging technologies risk eliminating altogether. I will make the case that 3D recording, through its substantial savings in time, does open up new avenues whereby thoughtful and reflective research could be reintegrated into fieldwork, but only if we accommodate the very different cadences inherent to the digital workflow.


Collaborating on Linked Open Data with UofT Libraries and Archives

Alex Jung                                                        Kyla Jemison
Open Technology Specialist, UTL             Special Formats Metadata Librarian, UTL

As the web increasingly links not only documents but the data they constitute, knowledge institutions are brought together to reimagine how current workflows, tools, and skills development account for these shifts. To this end, staff at University of Toronto libraries and archives have begun to consider how to sustainably integrate the open web into our practices with a view toward greater co-learning and co-production across our large, decentralised ecosystem. These intentions have cultivated a pool of community expertise and a weekly collaborative space to learn, explore, and create linked open data. This session will introduce attendees to concepts and tools in the web of data and demonstrate use cases for sharing bibliographic metadata from our space. We will look ahead to future metadata collaboration offerings based on presented material, and welcome feedback from participants.


A Pilgrim’s Progress: From a Dissertation Tool to the World’s Largest Inventory of Medieval Fonts

Harriet Sonne de Torrens                            Miguel A. Torrens
Visual Studies, UTM                                    John P. Robarts Library, UTL


Baptisteria Sacra Index was founded in 1997, and, defying the current belief that digital projects cannot be sustained over a long period of time, it is now entering its twenty-fourth year. This presentation will demonstrate the genealogy of BSI, how a doctoral dissertation tool migrated into a global digital humanities resource. After consultations with relevant publishers in the early days, the project gradually expanded and morphed into a global digital humanities project with a wide network of contributors from around the world who enrich its inventory. Initially restricted to research covering regions of Scandinavia, the BSI project is today an international inventory with works from Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. has become the world’s largest inventory of medieval baptismal fonts.

The BSI database has integrated traditional research methodologies with technology using text, coding, and images. A foundational knowledge of the artifact ensured that the design of the database would facilitate traditional lines of enquiry, and at the same time reach beyond what was feasible within traditional research. Technology has eliminated the traditional publishing barriers, extended our knowledge beyond the shifting political boundaries over the centuries, and the corpus of works has exposed lost affiliations, family connections and trade networks which were not possible to identify within the confines of traditional publishing. BSI is a work in progress that includes already more than 23,000 baptismal font records dated from the Early Christian period to the seventeenth century, 2,000+ inscriptions in a variety of languages, and over 100,000 digital images of the fonts and their settings.

Paper Session 3: Subject-Making and Ontology

Thursday, October 21, 2:30-3:55

Ethical Considerations in Digital Humanities Research: Critical Contributions from Arab Feminism

Mariam Karim
Visual Studies, UTM

What are some important ethical considerations when conducting feminist digital humanities research on the Global South? Narrating from my own experience in researching Arab women’s movements and the materials they produce, I draw connections between the structuring power of technology/media infrastructures and the research methodologies of digital research. Since the production of knowledge is part and parcel of the same hegemonic structures of power to which research relates, Sherene Razack offers “place-based feminism” as a methodology for anti-racist feminist researchers that requires vigilance about the transnational flows in both how they “shape the lives of the women we speak of (and always for) and as they shape ourselves” (2000, 50). For example, as a scholar based in the Global North my access to resources, information, and technologies allow me to circulate my ideas much more quickly. Geography as well as the flow of capital, labour, and information are all tied to knowledge production between nations and regions (40). In my presentation, I review how scholars have responded to the question of ethical research in feminist and digital contexts (Byrd 2014; Christen 2012; Cowan and Rault 2018; McKinney 2020; Noble 2018; Shakhsari 2012; Tufecki 2018) and I contextualize place-based-feminism from an Arab feminist lens. I offer three examples from Arab feminism to support my discussion.


Patents and Problematization: Imagined Modes of Governmentality

Paula Nunez de Villavicencio
Information, UTSG

This project seeks to understand how wearable technologies shape human information practices and is largely concerned with how power and knowledge circulate through and around optical media to produce the subject most conducive to the system. Using patents produced in by major technology companies such as Amazon, this project considers the ways in which we are always already conditioned to certain information practices and cultures of productivity. With well over 2000 patents produced in the last 10 years, this project uses a mixed method approach of distant reading, stylometry, and produces a media genealogy of the cultural artefact, to determine imagined modes of governance and the role of wearable technology as the imagined solution to the problem of human deficiencies in a digital network and labour process. Based on a forthcoming book chapter, this project highlights the potential of digital humanities and patent research to examine contemporary cultural perspectives and future uses of digital technologies.


On the Nature and Construction of Computational Transitional Objects

Scott Richmond                            Matthew Nish-Lapidus
Cinema Studies, UTSG                Architecture, Daniels, UTSG

Different media engender different kinds of subject positions, and demand different vocabularies to describe these subject positions. Film and media theory has turned to various psychological theories as being particularly compatible with particular media, for example, 1970s film theory took Lacanian psychoanalysis to be especially suited to describe Hollywood’s midcentury films. More recently, Richard Seymour has convincingly argued that social media models its users as behaviourist psychological subjects.

We argue that personal computing, as it emerged in the 1970s and 80s, produced subjects best described by psychoanalytical object relations theory. In particular, the psychic and epistemic needs of users are usefully understood as being both met and organized by computational transitional objects, on the model of DW Winnicott. Seymour Papert first theorized such computational transitional objects in his 1980 book Mindstorms. For Papert, the computer user required the transitional object’s quasi-independence, a relatable not-me object that nevertheless mediated their relation to, and self-relation in proximity to, the inapprehensibly abstract realm of computation.

We offer a brief intellectual history of Papert’s computational transitional objects, and then develop the concept in conversation with diverse examples across the history of computing: Papert’s famous LOGO and its turtle; the desktop metaphor and skeuomorphisms; mice, pens, styli, and keyboards; and our own work towards Ludus, a new programming language grounded by historical research into LOGO and designed specifically for creating new types of computational transitional objects. We argue
that the computational transitional object illuminates a counter-practice in the history of computing, and that it offers a useful compass for orienting ourselves in a present saturated by computation, and for imagining alternatives to that present.

Paper Session 4: At the Intersection of the Digital and Spatial

Thursday, October 21, 2:30-3:55

Deep Mapping Archaeological Cultures in Near Eastern Prehistory: A Case Study from Chalcolithic Mesopotamia (5200-4200 BC)

Elizabeth Gibbon                     Khaled Abu Jayyab
Anthropology, UTSG               Anthropology, UTSG

Archaeologists traditionally view the prehistoric Near East as composed of regional culture areas, based on similarity in materials such as pottery and stone tools. Visualizations are created to map the extent of these culture areas, usually taking the form of groups of settlements bounded by circles. These maps highlight physical features of the landscape and emphasize cultural homogeneity and borders, rather than diversity and relationships among people in the past. Deep mapping is presented as an alternative to this approach, a multilayered cartographic representation that combines geographic and social space. In this case study, we visualize social space as social networks of ceramic communities, based on similarity in patterns of ceramic consumption and production, layered over visualizations of geographic space. In comparison to traditional archaeological maps, these visualizations highlight the complexity of social interaction among settlements within previously identified culture areas, but also the diversity of social interaction across their ‘borders.’


Follow The Ho Chi Minh Trail: Analyzing the Media History of the Electronic Battlefield

Arun Jacob
Information, UTSG

In this essay, I suggest that contemporary conversations about digital battlefields and autonomous weapons can be enriched by a better understanding of the history of media technologies whose development was supported by military concerns in the quarter-century after the Second World War. Specifically, I examine the media history of one such technological solution: an electronic sensor network along the Ho Chi Minh trail. As critical digital humanists, we need to pay close attention to how quantitative methods and positivist discourse were able to reprioritize the academic commitments in the field of geography and fundamentally change the nature of geographic knowledge production. As we engage in socially progressive and civic-minded scholarly practices, we must be mindful of the technological legacies of the tools we employ and the “military a priori” that they hold, i.e. the use-case scenarios as used in warfare.


Location, Location, Location: Google Maps and the Construction of the Local

Rebecca Noone
Information, UTSG

It is no secret that location and location-based data are central to Google’s dominance of internet search. Location-based data activates everything from ridesharing to food delivery services and its predictive functionality suggests stores to shop at or attractions to enjoy. This paper examines Google Maps’ construction of the location through their apparatus of administering, monitoring, adding, and reviewing “the local”: The Local Guides Platform. Local Guides are Google’s “citizen contributors” who upload place-based information and photos to the map. While Local Guides are not official employees of Google, they nevertheless are responsible for many of the images, pins, and reviews visible when using Google Maps. According to Google Maps, Local Guides are there to “help users,” “influence people,” and “help Google.” Local Guides Platform is positioned as the intermediaries of the Google techno-imaginary. This paper asks: what is made visible through these configurations of local reviews and what types of spatial relations are produced in the process of adding, editing, and rating locations? Analysis focuses on the contributions Toronto-based Local Guides make to Google Maps, specifically the visual and textual content they share about Toronto. The paper illustrates how the Local Guides Platform is a codified form of local engagement based on constructions of exploration, expertise, and optimal experiences that orient the “the local” away from the territory and towards the map. As such, the promoted acts of “local guiding” flatten urban experiences through privileging specific types of production and consumption-based mobilities.


From Postpalatial to Postcolonial: A Case Study of Accessible 3D Modelling Approaches on Late Bronze Age Crete

Tia Sager
Art History, UTSG

Spatial analysis is an ever-growing field of inquiry with great potential for historians and archaeologists alike. It has, however, frequently been used to produce large scale comparative studies, and has often been applied noncritically to prehistoric built environments. Certain approaches, such as 3D scanning and modelling, have the potential to bridge the gap between various scales of analysis, and to highlight the micro-scale at the level of the prehistoric and protohistoric built environment. By addressing an architectural case study from the Postpalatial period (ca. 1300-1200 BCE) of Late Bronze Age Crete by means of 3D scanning and modelling, this paper proposes to demonstrate the accessible potential of 3D scanning and modelling for scholarly inquiry and contextual analysis. Such digital approaches allow us to reframe questions of active cultural exchange and socio-political transformation through a postcolonial lens that questions the traditional colonizer (Mycenaeans) and colonized (Minoans) relationship that has been prevalent in the literature on this period of Cretan prehistory.

Paper Session 5: Digital Identities and Identity-Making

Friday, October 22, 1:00-2:25

Instascholar? Disinformation, Data Mobilization, and Social Media Algorithms

Laurie Bertram
History, UTSG

“Free speech does not mean free reach,” writes Renee Diresta. And yet, social media platforms continue to “algorithmically amplify” fake data, from vaccine conspiracy theories to white supremacist historical narratives. Indeed, the algorithms behind major platforms are foundational to the rise of alt-right influencers with massive followings and whole careers devoted to disinformation. While many scholars in the social sciences and humanities could produce large-scale interventions in such campaigns, relatively few of us rival the reach of these kinds of professional influencers. This paper examines a few dimensions of this problem. First it discusses the relative lack of tailored training for scholars in effective data mobilization for algorithm- based social media platforms. Second it looks at important issues surrounding data packaging. Few scholars view their social media presence as part of their data mobilization mandates. Those that do might overlook serious data mobilization possibilities because of ideas about which platforms best fit academic thought. Academics might prefer textbased forums like Twitter while missing huge potential opportunities on photo and video platforms like Instagram. Finally, this paper critically explores the inspiring work of scholars who are challenging this trend, the risks and drawbacks of such campaigns, and new possibilities in the future of timely, critical data mobilization.


Forging Islamophobic Affect: Indian Diasporic Communities’ Strategies on Twitter

Zeinab Farokhi
Women & Gender Studies, UTSG

Indian diasporic communities influenced by Hindutva or Hindu nationalism increasingly incorporate social media platforms as a communication strategy in attempts to instill muscular Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim sentiments among wider audiences. In particular, the use of Twitter by Indian diasporic communities in North America is noteworthy. Using the case of “Love Jihad,” this paper explores how Indian diasporic communities in North America express Islamophobia through emotion rhetoric and foster Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim sentiments on Twitter. Secondly, this paper explores how Islamophobic sentiments are creating an Islamophobic “affective public” (Papacharissi, 2014) that allows Hindu nationalists to forge community among diasporic community across borders.


Towards a Virtualizing Yiddishland: Adventures at the Intersection of the Digital and the Postvernacular

Caleb Sher
Comparative Literature, UTSG

This paper takes as its framework Jeffrey Shandler’s claim that Yiddish among non-ultra-Orthodox Jews has become  postvernacular: no longer taught as a mother tongue, people’s primary relation to the language is one where the symbolic potency of the language is more important than communication in the language. That something is said in Yiddish at all is more significant than what is said. I argue, through a formalist lens, that given the performative nature of postvernacular speech, when Yiddish comes into contact with the digital, it begins, drawing on Pierre Levy, to pose nationality and community as persistent problems demanding unstable solutions, rather than fixed identities. Motivated by the desire for Yiddish, I argue that the citizens of digital Yiddishland multiply identity: they are here and now, and simultaneously then and there in their nostalgia for a non-linguistically-assimilated Jewish community which they know cannot be, and which they yet still call into existence.


“O, Wonder! What ‘I’ AM I?”: Rumi and the Persian Mystic Self

Mahdieh Vali-Zadeh
Comparative Literature, UTSG

The proposed talk offers a non-Eurocentric, nonessentialist, and historical genealogy of the modern subject. I do this by focusing on the Persian mystic self as dynamic, engaged, and active via an approach that synthesizes familiar humanistic methods and literary criticism with computational machine learning ones. The study analyzes the self-Orientalized conception of the Persian mystic self by the Iranian intellectuals involved in forming a modern nation in the early to mid-twentieth century, and it exposes how their conception omitted significant potentials of the Persian mystic self. The proposed talk will refer to Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi’s lyrical poetry as the best-known literary representation of Persian love mysticism and exposes its suppressed aspects. My work explores the number of the pronoun “I (man من )” and the first-person verbs in Rumi’s poems, and the number of Rumi’s active voice verbs vs. passive voice verbs when referring to the “I,” in addition to the microscopic close readings of selected poems. This effort hopes to illustrate how the ontology that includes Rumi may be drawn more fully to enrich our modern notions of personal and national selfhood.


Lightning Session 1

Friday, October 22, 1:00-2:25

Wikidata, the LINCS Project, and the Mariposa Folk Festival Dataset

Stacy Allison-Cassin
Information, UTSG

Digital Critical Archives and Feminist Praxis

Claire Battershill
Information & English, UTSG 

Choose Your Own Poems and Fancies: Digital Forms and Rearrangeable Texts

Liza Blake
English & Drama, UTM

AIr Women Poets: A Telescopic Exploration of Persian Poetry

Shabnam Golkhandan                                            Leila Pourtavaf                          Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi
Near and Middle Eastern Studies, UTSG           Historical Studies, UTM          Historical Studies, UTM

Programmatically Enhancing Collection Metadata to Help Assess Collection Diversity

James Mason
Metadata & Digital Initiatives Librarian, Music Library, UTSG


Platforms and Cultural Production

David Nieborg
Information, UTSG

Lightning Session 2

Friday, October 22, 1:00-2:25

At the Intersection of Digital, Public, and Indigenized Humanities

Cara Krmpotich
Museum Studies, UTSG

CDHI Digital Drop-ins: Experts, Answers, and Conversations

Elizabeth Parke
Senior Research Associate, UTM and CDHI Executive

Collaboration or Exploitation: Equitable Community Partnerships in DH as Labor Relations

Tomoko Shida
Archives & Special Collections, UTM

Supporting Digital Scholarship at UTSC

Kirsta Stapelfeldt
Head, Digital Scholarship Unit, UTSC

Color and Overtones: Blackness in Latin American Visual Culture

Tamara Walker
History, UTSG

Lightning Session 3

Friday, October 22, 2:30-3:55

Afrosonic Audio: DJs as Archivists, Mixtapes as Counterarchives

Mark Campbell
Arts, Culture, and Media, UTSC

The Pussy Palace Oral Histories: Coding Sex

Elio Colavito                          Emily Mastragostino
History, UTSG                      Psychology, OISE

Digital Storytelling and Refugee Counter-Archives

Thy Phu
Media Studies, UTSC

The Optics of Enlightenment: Capturing Nirvana in Twentieth-century Southeast Asia

Anthony Scott
Department for the Study of Religion, UTSG

Fast-Forwarding Porn: Digitizing Pleasure as Historical Knowledge

Patrick Keilty
Information, UTSG


Land Based Dramaturgy in the Digital Realm

Jill Carter                                                                                                 Antje Budde
Centre for Drama, Theatre, & Performance Studies, UTSG        Centre for Drama, Theatre, & Performance Studies, UTSG


Lightning Session 4

Friday, October 22, 2:30-3:55

Peopling Digital Humanities

Krista Barclay                  Christina Pasqua             Sarina Simmons
Religion, UTSG               Religion, UTSG                 Religion, UTSG


Can a Computer Tell a Round from a Flat Character? Emotional Dynamics in Fiction

Adam Hammond          Krishnapriya Vishnubhotla
English, UTSG              Computational Linguistics, UTSG

The Book and the Silk Roads Project

Jessica Lockhart                                                                       Rachel Di Cresce
Head of Research, Old Books New Science Lab               Digital Project Librarian , ITS

‘Playable Theatre’: Gaming and Aesthetic Control

Lawrence Switzky
English & Drama, UTM

The Cistern: A Database and Research Space on Geographical Knowledge in the Ottoman World

Adrien Zakar
Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations, UTSG

Graduate and Undergraduate Poster Presentations

Friday, October 22, 4:00-5:00


The Ethics of Neutrality in Digital Archives: A Case Study of the Federal Writers’  Project Slave Narratives

Cate Cleo Alexander
Information, UTSG

Through a case study of the Federal Writers’ Project Slave Narratives, I discuss the  ethics of neutrality in digitizing minority histories. Building upon an extant corpus of criticism from library and information studies, I argue that a rejection of neutrality should be one of the guiding principles in designing online historical archives. I contextualize my argument within the requirements of new digital environments and within the rise of extremist hate groups on the internet. I also discuss historical weaponization of ‘neutrality’ during the collection of the FWP Slave Narratives and how the flawed principle was used to promote pro-slavery propaganda and to delegitimize black voices. My work is grounded in the politics of allyship and information codes of ethics that decenter whiteness.


Access to Healthcare for Rural Women in Canada and the Contemplation of Digital Solutions

Bisma Ali
Health Science, UTSC

This poster presentation will examine the barriers that rural women in Canada are subject to when attempting to access healthcare, including: SDOH, cultural barriers, economic barriers, and intersectional concerns. After this analysis, I will contemplate  the viability of digital solutions in order to address these issues, and what next steps need to be taken in order to provide greater accessibility to digitized healthcare. In this poster, I will also be sharing my current project, where I am developing a website for women in rural communities to access health services.


E-commerce for Micro-Entrepreneurs: Mapping Cultural Restrictions, Ecologies of Use, and Trends for Development

Aditi Bhatia
Information, UTSG

The poster addresses the challenges rural micro-entrepreneurs face in the lower socioeconomic rural communities, especially the handicraft merchants and artisans in utilizing ecommerce to reach wider markets in the Global South. The research scrutinizes the adoption of e-commerce as a marketplace and sheds light on the cultural factors contributing to the lack of access to information knowledge for  microentrepreneurs. The purpose of the poster is to find hurdles in awareness creation for rural entrepreneurs for adopting e-commerce as a business solution. Research focuses on the following questions: How can microentrepreneurs in rural communities utilize ICTs, especially mobile phones, to sell their goods through the online marketplaces? How do the affordances of the e-commerce platforms prohibit users from social inclusion? Research output will inform digital policy and help build guidelines for stakeholders for both developing and developed economies that want to encourage rural micro-entrepreneurs to sell online and have a global outreach.


Discussing Digital Asian Diasporas: Navigating Asian Identity in Early Internet Culture

Ann Marie Elpa
English, UTSG

With the rise of early social media networks such as MySpace, Xanga, and AIM came the emergence of internet subcultures such as ‘AZN Pride’ in the ’90s and early 2000’s. During a time when Asian Americans and Canadians were largely underrepresented in mainstream media, chat rooms and groups were a safe haven for Asian youth (often first-generation Asian American/Canadian) to find like-minded individuals and find pride in their identity, hence the term ‘AZN Pride’. The colloquial term also spelled as ‘Asian Pride’ was used to celebrate Asian ethnicity with youth sharing music from Asian artists and indulging in commodities such as imported cars and fashion trends of the era such as frosted tips and baggy jeans. As a result, early digital creators and influencers such as Tila Tequila rose to prominence. This cultural movement was also a response against stereotypes placed on Asians such as the ‘Model Minority’ and the ‘Lotus Blossom.’ Asian digital subcultures were the prototype to modern subcultures (AZN Pride 2.0) such as the ‘Asian Baby Girl’ (made popular by Internet memes shared on groups such as ‘subtle asian traits’ on Facebook).


“Essentially” Expendable: Worker Sentiment on the Twitter Hashtag #PaidSickDaySavesLives and the Biopolitics of Exposure during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Adrianna Michell
English, UTSG

In March of 2020, Ontario came to a halt due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic. During the months-long “stay at home” orders that followed, only “essential workers” involved in “critical infrastructure” were allowed to return toin-person operations (Public Safety Canada). However, tweets from the social media site Twitter suggest that state definitions of “essentiality” do not cohere with the experiences of so-called “frontline” workers, who express concerns over the “risks [they’re] being forced to
take to keep a roof over [their] head” (@YoniFreedhoff). By close reading #PaidSickDaysSaveLives I examine how workers in Ontario, Canada mobilize Twitter’s
affordances to create collective resistance to state labour policies, through which workers’ voices “coalesce into a larger collective storytelling” (Jackson et al. xxx). Informed by the critical genealogy of biopolitics (Foucault), I explore Twitter users grapple with paid leave policies that seemingly render workers’ lives “essential” or “inessential.”


The Matilda Project – Inequality and Gender Bias towards Women in Science

Shehryar (Shay) Saharan                          Shehroze Saharan
Science, UTM                                              Information, UTM

The Matilda Effect – a term coined by historian Margaret Rossiter – is a phenomenon used to describe women scientists who have been ignored, forgotten, or denied credit due to sexlinked biases. The unfortunate reality is that the Matilda Effect is still prevalent today as women are not given due credit for their scientific achievements. Our proposal, The Matilda Project, is strategically placed to address this issue. The Matilda Project involves the creation of an educational video and website; the video will provide a brief overview of the topic in question while the website will serve as a comprehensive archive of historical & contemporary women scientists who share one thing in common – the Matilda Effect. The Matilda Project is intended for a wide range of audiences including the general public and academic community. Ultimately, we hope that this project will raise awareness of inequality and gender bias towards women in science.


Commercializing the Ancient: Conflations, Erasures, and Imaginings in Authenticating African Yoga

Omema Saleri
Psychology, UTM

Kemetic yoga has become increasingly popular amongst People of Colour and Black practitioners in North America. Kemetic yoga distinguishes itself from mainstream yoga in its claims to African (rather than Indian) roots and spirituality. This paper explores the commercialization of Kemeticism as an African yoga by asking what aspects are highlighted and which aspects are purposefully erased in this process. A digital ethnography through scraping of social media sites that describe yoga in Africa, showed that Kemetic yoga was one of the recurring topics. Collected images were then analyzed with their associated discourse for underlying ideologies. The promotion of Kemetic yoga was found to occur mainly through imagery that aimed to create a parallel between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and contemporary Kemetic yoga poses. The simplification of Kemeticism as a single yogic practice becomes problematic because it erases some of the broader complicated history associated with it.


Social Hours


Thursday, October 21: Conference Welcome

4:00-5:00pm EST


Friday, October 22: Game Night

5:00-6:00pm EST

Presenter Biographies

Cate Cleo Alexander (she/her) is a Doctoral Student in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Cate’s lifelong passion for history has taken her from archaeological field digs in Kastro Kallithea (Greece) and Roccagloriosa (Italy) to the digital realms of online archives. Her doctoral research focuses on the incorporation of digital technology into museums as a tool for anti-colonialism and integrating intersectionality. When she is not studying cultural heritage, digital humanities, or information ethics, Cate can be found swing dancing, making memes, or watching long video essays on YouTube.


Bisma Ali is a 5th year student at UTSC who is completing her degree in Health Studies. She is also pursuing a minor in Biomedical Ethics. Bisma is passionate about women’s health, and is pursuing research and advocacy about access issues in healthcare faced by women in Ontario.


Stacy Allison-Cassin is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the LIS program. Her work is centered in the areas of knowledge organization, metadata, and knowledge equity. A Citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, she engages in work and research related to Indigenous matters in libraries and the larger cultural heritage sector. With a deep interest in increasing access and visibility for non-textual materials and marginalized knowledge, Stacy is a passionate advocate for change in information structures and metadata systems within the library profession and across the wider GLAM sector. A Master of Information Studies graduate of the University of Toronto iSchool, Stacy has numerous years of experience as a professional librarian. As an Associate Librarian at York University she has held positions as music cataloguer, digital humanities librarian, and as a member of the Department of Student Learning and Academic Success she focused on critical pedagogy with collection responsibilities for Philosophy and History. Stacy hold a Masters in Orchestral music performance from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and is completing a PhD in the Humanities Department at York University. Her dissertation entitled: “Fugitive Phrases: Arcade Fire, Love Song, and the Amorous Self” draws on Luhmann’s theory of love as  information system to discuss the ways music supports and promotes amorous communications.


Khaled Abu Jayyab is a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto. His dissertation research focused on the role of human mobility and interaction in shaping communities in Late Chalcolithic Northern Mesopotamia. Khaled trained in Ceramic analysis and landscape archaeology and interpretation with Dr. Clemens Reichel and Dr. Ted Banning at the University of Toronto. Dr. Abu Jayyab’s interests include: landscape archaeology, the archaeology of mobility, communities of practice, and ceramic analysis. Khaled has carried out fieldwork in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Georgia, France, and Canada. Most recently, Dr. Abu Jayyab has been carrying out fieldwork in Iraq and the Republic of Georgia. In Iraq Khaled works at the sites of Nineveh (Mosul) – with a focus on cultural
heritage, and site preservation – and at Kani Shaie (Sulaymaniyah) where he works on the analysis of the ceramic assemblage of the site. In the Republic of Georgia Khaled is conducting a survey in Kvemo Kartli (Georgia) focused around the site of Gadachrili Gora, and codirecting the archaeological excavations of the GRAPE (Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition) project. Dr. Abu Jayyab has published numerous articles, book chapters, and reports on his past and current work in Syria, Jordan, Georgia, and Iraq.


Krista Barclay is an historian and Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, teaching in the Canadian Studies program at University College. Her research focuses on colonialism, families, public memory and the fur trade. She is privileged to live and work in Chippewa Tri-Council and Williams Treaties territory.


Claire Battershill is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed in the Faculty of Information and the Department of English. Her research specializes in early twentieth-century literature and book and publishing history. She also writes short stories. Before returning to Toronto, she held a SSHRC postdoc at the University of Reading and a Banting Postdoc and SSHRC Impact Award at Simon Fraser University. She co-directs The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP), funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, and was the co-creator of Make Believe: The Secret Library of M. Prud’homme, an imaginative exhibition of literature and material arts, funded by a Canada Council New Chapter Award in 2019.


Laurie Bertram is a curator and historian of migration, material culture, and gender/sexuality in North American colonial history. Her new book, The Viking Immigrants: Icelandic North Americans (UTP 2020) explores the evolution of an immigrant community through everyday culture, from ghost stories and coffee
pots to cake and Viking parades. Her forthcoming book, The Other Little House: Brothels, Power, and Colonial Expansion in the North American West, 1849-1890, explores race and the hidden histories of sex work economies, with a focus on the diverse economic lives of sex workers along the Western frontier. From sexpionage and anti-slavery resistance campaigns to real estate, arms, and fashion, The Other Little House seeks to illuminate the unexpected historical trajectories of sex work capital. Bertram’s curatorial work explores digital and in-gallery approaches to gendered media and histories of colonialism, trauma, and sexuality. Her current work focuses on making sex-work related archives accessible to large audiences and plans to launch a major new historical brothel map of Toronto in 2021.


Aditi Bhatia-Kalluri is a fourth-year Ph.D. student at Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Research aims to understand the growth and expansion of the digital financial ecosystem in India and its adoption by rural micro-entrepreneurs for e-banking and ecommerce. Her Ph.D. research looks at mobile phone penetration and usage, especially financial inclusion and digital payments. Aditi earned Master of Digital Media from Ryerson University and B.A. Hons in New Media Studies from University of Toronto.


Liza Blake’s work attends to the connections among literature, science, and philosophy in premodernity, early modernity, and modernity. Her book project, Early Modern Literary Physics, argues that early modern authors such as Arthur Golding, Edmund Spenser, George Chapman, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Margaret Cavendish used literary techniques and forms to explore the central concepts of philosophies of nature. She argues for the coherence in the English Renaissance of the idea of physiologia, a philosophy of nature encompassing the basic makeup of the material world and the rules governing it. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries developed a large and varied collection of new interpretations of the physical world, and my project embraces that multiplicity. Her chapters demonstrate that literary texts were just as concerned with physics as were treatises, manuals, and other recognizably scientific or proto-scientific forms of writing, and that literary studies has, accordingly, an important role to play in the histories of science and philosophy.


Heidi Bohaker’s research and teaching interests include Anishinaabe political history in the Great Lakes region; Native American writing, communication systems, and material culture as sources for history; treaty relationships; federal government policies toward indigenous peoples in Canada; and digital history. She has a broad interest in the types of archives and categories of information both states and non-state societies kept and keep about their people. She is also a practitioner of the digital humanities, exploring how to best use new technologies in collaboration with Great Lakes First Nations to reconnect communities with aspects of their cultural heritage stored in museums and archives around the world, through GRASAC, the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures, of which she is a co-founder, and its research database of which she was the main designer. Her interest in digital archives has led to a recent project on the privacy implications of using the global cloud to store confidential and private data. Current projects include a study of Pre-Confederation treaties, 1763-1815, and the significance of wampum in Great Lakes treaty negotiations.


Antje Budde is a conceptual, queer-feminist, interdisciplinary experimental scholar-artist and the Artistic Research Director of the Digital Dramaturgy Lab (DDL2), currently working and living on traditionally indigenous land in Tkaronto (Toronto, Province of Ontario, Canada). Antje also works as an Associate Professor of Theatre Sciences (Theaterwissenschaften), Cultural Communication, and Modern Chinese Studies at the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, University of Toronto. Antje has created multi-disciplinary artistic works in Germany, China and Canada and works tri-lingually in German, English and Mandarin. Antje is the founder of a number of queerly feminist performing art projects including most recently the Digital Dramaturgy Lab (DDL2)- a platform for experimental explorations of digital culture, creative labor, integration of arts and science, and technology in performance, interested in the intersections of natural sciences, the arts, engineering and computer science.


Mark Campbell is a DJ, scholar and curator. His research explores the relationships between Afrosonic innovations and notions of the human. Dr. Campbell is a former Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Fine Arts at the University of Regina and is currently the Principal Investigator in the SSHRC funded research project on Hip Hop Archives. As cofounder of the Bigger than Hip Hop radio show in 1997 and founder at Northside Hip Hop Archive in 2010, Mark has spent two decades embedded within the Toronto hip hop scene operating from community engaged praxis as both a DJ and a Curator. Mark’s forthcoming books include Bsides and ‘Othered’ Kinds of Humans, the coedited collection of essays, Hip Hop Archives: The Politics and Poetics of Knowledge Production with Murray Forman as well as Hip Hop in Canada: Diasporic and Indigenous Reverberations with Charity Marsh. Dr. Campbell recently published …Everything Remains Raw: Photographing Toronto Hip Hop Culture from Analogue to Digital as part of his recent Contact Festival exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. He has published widely, with essays appearing in the Southern Journal of Canadian Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society and the Journal of World Popular Music. His popular writing can be found in various public sources, such as the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star as well as hip hop magazines such as Urbanology.


Jill Carter (Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi) works in Tkaron:to with many Indigenous artists to support the development of new works and to disseminate artistic objectives, process, and outcomes through community-driven research projects. Her scholarly research, creative projects, and activism are built upon ongoing relationships with Indigenous Elders, scholars, youth, artists and activists positioning her as witness to, participant in, and disseminator of oral histories that speak to the application of Indigenous aesthetic principles and traditional knowledge systems to contemporary performance. The research questions she pursues revolve around the mechanics of story creation, the processes of delivery and the manufacture of affect. More recently, she has concentrated upon Indigenous pedagogical models for the rehearsal studio and the lecture hall; the application of Indigenous [insurgent] research methods within performance studies; the politics of land acknowledgements; and land-based dramaturgies/activations/ interventions. Apart from her teaching, theatre work and academic writing, Jill works as a researcher and tour guide with First Story Toronto (http://ncct.on.ca/first-story-torontoapp-bus-tour/); facilitates Land Acknowledgement and Land-Based Creation workshops for theatre makers in this city; cofacilitates Treaty and Art-Making workshops with Kanien’kehá:ka multi-disciplinary artist Ange Loft; serves on the editorial board of Theatre Survey; and serves the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) as Equity Officer. In 2020, Jill was awarded an Early Career Teaching Award from the University of Toronto and was nominated for an Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award. In 2021, her article “’My What Big Teeth You Have!’: On the
Art of Being Seen and Not Eaten” received Honorable Mention for the 2021 Richard Plant Award (CATR).


Shenella Charles is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. Lokono herself, she is researching the history of Lokono struggles for land rights and autonomy in Guyana post-Independence (1966 to the present).


Elio Colavito is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto, specializing in Sexual Diversity Studies. As a trans non-binary researcher, Elio’s passion lies in archiving and re-telling queer histories in Canada. Their research interests include policing, sex culture, and the intersections of lesbian and trans identities. Currently, Elio is working with the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory (Director, Elspeth Brown) as a research assistant and co-interviewer for the Pussy Palace Oral History Project. They hold an M.A. in History from the University of Toronto and a BSc (Hons) in History and Political Science from Eastern Michigan University.


Matthew Cormier is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His current research intersects the digital humanities, memory studies, affect theory, and contemporary apocalyptic writing in Canada. The author of Sieve Reading Beyond the Minor (forthcoming UOttawa Press) and co-editor of Digital Memory Agents in Canada (forthcoming U of A Press), his diverse work appears in several books as well as in journals such as Studies in Canadian Literature, English Studies in Canada, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, Canadian Poetry, American, British and Canadian Studies, and Canadian Review of American Studies. He also serves on the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory’s (CWRC) Research Board and is a Research Affiliate at the University of Alberta’s Canadian Literature Centre.


Rachel Di Cresce is Digital Project Librarian at the University of Toronto’s Information Technology Services (ITS) department and the project librarian for The Book and the Silk Roads. Before this, she was responsible for the Mellon-funded Digital Tools for Manuscript Study Project. Rachel’s own work interests include data management, UX, app design, open standards, 3D and digital project sustainability and scalability.


Ann Marie Elpa (biography unavailable)


Autumn Epple is an M.A. student in the Department of History. Autumn, whose home community is the Mohawks of Akwesasne, recently completed her Major Research Paper, “A Kanien’kehá:ka Call to Arms in ‘the Land Where the Partridge Drums’: Akwesasne in the Second World War.” She has a strong research interest in the use of material culture as a source of history. Autumn begins her PhD in history at York University this fall.


Lawrence Evalyn is a Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow in English at the University of Toronto, associated with Data Science. His dissertation, “Database Representations of English Literature, 1789-99,” measures uneven digitization in literary databases to argue that the principles which guided earlier feminist critiques of the literary canon are insufficient to address mass digital archives. His work has appeared in Digital Humanities Quarterly and the proceedings of Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval and Digital Humanities.


Zeinab Farokhi is a doctoral candidate at the Women and Gender Studies Institute and Diaspora and Transnational studies. Her current doctoral work compares the usage of Twitter by Islamophobic right-wing extremists in India, Canada, and the US, focusing on anti-Muslim rhetoric in Hindu nationalist and white nationalist discourse.


Tim Gadanidis is a PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. He uses a combination of statistical, computational and qualitative methodologies to investigate sociolinguistic questions, especially those relating to language on the Internet. His previous work has included analyses of how listeners and readers perceive the social meanings of the English discourse-pragmatic markers um and uh across spoken and online (instant-messaging) communication, and how different online communities’ shared ideologies about climate change are reflected in their members’ discursive and linguistic practices. His dissertation research is an analysis of online and oral narratives of personal experience from restaurant servers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández’s research and scholarship are concerned with questions of symbolic boundaries and the dynamics of cultural production and processes of identification in educational contexts. He draws on cultural studies, decolonial/postcolonial and feminist theory, and critical sociology to inform his understanding of curriculum and pedagogy as encounters with difference. He is the Director of the Youth Research Lab at the Centre for Urban Schooling of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, where he is Principal Investigator of the Youth Solidarities Across Boundaries Project, a participatory action research project with Latinx and Indigenous youth in the city of Toronto. At the YRL, he is also Producer of The WhyPAR podcast and oversees and supports several youth participatory action research projects, including the editorial board of in:cite, a youth-run online research journal, as well as a study of the practices of participatory facilitators. His theoretical work focuses on the relationship between creativity, decolonization, and solidarity.


Elizabeth Gibbon is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto with a specialization in archaeology. Her research focuses on combing material studies with digital tools such as Social Network Analysis (SNA), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create dynamic maps and visualizations that highlight relationships among physical and social space.


Shabnam Rahimi Golkhandan (biography unavailable)


Adam Hammond’s research is in British Modernism, Literature and Technology, and Digital Humanities. His work investigates the dynamic between literature, technology, and politics. It explores the manner in which dialogic or multi-voiced literature “models” democratic modes of thought, particularly in the work of Virginia Woolf. It analyzes the relationship between independent production (small-press publication, DIY recording, indie video games) and the development of experimental artistic styles. In his digital work, he collaborates with computer scientists to develop new literary applications of natural language processing.


Arun Jacob is a Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto,  working in the Media, Technology, and Culture concentration. His research interests include examining the media history of educational technologies.


Kyla Jemison is the Special Formats Metadata Librarian at the University of Toronto Libraries. She sees linked data as a valuable tool for providing a broader context for library collections and highlighting hidden resources.


Alex Jung serves as Open Technology Specialist for the University of Toronto  Libraries. He tries to shed light on the workings of the open web, to work fluidly with and alongside others, and to let tools be tools.


Mariam Karim is a graduate fellow (2021-2022) with the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative and a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Information, under the collaborative program at the Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto. Mariam holds an undergraduate degree in Visual Culture & Communications from the University of Toronto (Mississauga) and an M.A. in Cultural Studies & Critical Theory from McMaster. Her dissertation research centers on 20th century Arab women’s movements through place-based media studies and digital humanities perspective. Mariam’s dissertation research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship award.


Patrick Keilty is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information and Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. In addition, he is Archives Director of the Sexual Representation Collection, administered by the Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Professor Keilty’s research interests can be divided into two areas. The first is the politics of digital infrastructures in the sex industries. The second is the materiality of media in erotohistoriography. He has published on embodiment and technology, data science, the history of information retrieval, design and experience, graphic design, temporality, and sexual taxonomies. His work spans visual culture, sexual politics, science and technology studies, media studies, information studies, political economy, critical theory, and theories of gender, sexuality, and race. His research projects “Sexy Data,” “Pleasurable Data,” and “Sexual Representation Collection” are generously supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In addition, he is Co-Investigator on Archive/Counter-Archive, also funded through SSHRC. His forthcoming edited volumes include Queer Data (University of Washington Press) and Handbook of Adult Film and Media (Intellect Books). He is editor of Feminist & Queer Information Studies Reader (Litwin 2013). He was co-lead editor for Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience from 2017 – 2019 and continues to sit on the Editorial Board. He is currently Co-Chair of the Adult Film History Group in the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) and Treasurer of the Sexuality Studies Association. In addition to his appointments in the Faculty of Information and Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, Professor Keilty is cross-appointed with the Cinema Studies Institute, faculty member of University College, affiliated with the Women and Gender Studies Institute, and member of the Technoscience Research Unit.


Cara Krmpotich is a museum anthropologist committed to decolonizing museum practices with particular attention to collections work. Cara studied Anthropology at Trent University before she obtained a Masters in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. She completed the certificate program in Museum Management and Curatorship at Sir Sandford Fleming College. Professor Krmpotich has experience with art and ethnographic collections at Trent University, the Museum of Vancouver, the Museum of Anthropology, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, National Museum of Scotland, the British Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum. Her research with the Haida Repatriation Committee has significantly shaped Professor Krmpotich’s approach to museology.


Jessica Lockhart is Head of Research of the Old Books New Science Lab, with teaching and research interests in global literatures of the premodern world, as well as medieval literatures of the British Isles. Jessica received her PhD in 2017 from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. As Head of Research, Jessica
contributes to vision and helps ensure that the Book and the Silk Roads project achieves its research goals.


Carlie Manners’s doctoral research explores Afro-Caribbean religious and spiritual practices in the nineteenth-century Anglo-Atlantic world. Her project investigates the role of ritual objects and other forms of religious material culture in syncretic ritual practioning, and the discourses of primitivism used to identify such objects in colonial institutions.


James Mason has been a librarian at the University of Toronto Music Library for 10 years. Currently acting as the Metadata and Digital Initiatives Librarian, responsible for cataloguing special materials including sound recordings and rare materials. Previously James has worked as a librarian at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts as well as the Banff Centre of the Arts. Current research interests include collection assessment and data analysis.


Emily Mastragostino is a PhD student in Counselling and Clinical Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in the University of Toronto. From a positive psychology lens, Emily’s research focuses on investigating the ways in which marginalized communities cultivate wellbeing, despite institutional and social barriers. Currently, Emily is working with the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory (Director, Elspeth Brown), supporting the Pussy Palace Oral History Project in coding narrative interviews. Through the coding process, she identifies and organizes themes in the lived experiences of organizers, patrons, and community members involved in the police raid of the 2000 Pussy Palace bathhouse event. She holds an MA in Counselling and Clinical Psychology from the University of Toronto and a BA (Hons) double major in Psychology and Humanities, with a research background spanning classic quantitative methods to participatory arts-based qualitative approaches.


Adrianna Michell (she/her) is a first year PhD student at the University of Toronto in the department of English. She previously completed her BA in English & Cultural  studies (2020) and MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory (2021) at McMaster University. Her research concerns futurity and disability, with ongoing interests across the diverse fields of eco-criticism, digital media, and critical health humanities.


David Nieborg is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough with a graduate appointment at the Faculty of Information. He holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam and held visiting and fellowship appointments with MIT, the Queensland University of Technology, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. David published on the game industry, apps and platform economics, and games journalism in academic outlets such as New Media & Society, Social Media + Society and Media, Culture and Society. He is the co-author of Platforms and Cultural Production (Polity, 2021).


Matthew Nish-Lapidus makes software, sounds, and texts probing the myth that computers need to be useful rather than beautiful. Matt’s interests lie in the poetics of computation and its proclivity to create meaningful relations through iteration and recombination. His work often results in diverse outputs including books, recordings, installations, performances, software, and objects. Matt has performed and exhibited at ACUD Macht Neu (Berlin), Electric Eclectics Festival (Ontario), InterAccess (Toronto), Mayhem (Copenhagen), and many DIY spaces in North America and Europe. You can find Matt online and away-from-keyboard under various aliases and collaborations including emenel, New Tendencies, må, and <blink>.


Rebecca Noone (settler, she/her) is an artist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Information University of Toronto. Noone’s research focuses on the politics, discourses,
and practices of “location awareness” as oriented within digital mapping platforms. Her postdoc work looks at the role Google Maps’ Local Guides plays in conceptualizing and
operationalizing Google Maps’ location-based data. Her dissertation, titled “From Here To: Everyday Wayfinding in the Age of Digital Maps” (University of Toronto, 2020) builds from artworks presented and developed at The Luminary (St. Louis, US), YTB Gallery (Toronto, CA), Art of the Danforth Festival (Toronto, CA), and the Nes Artist Residency (Skagaströnd, IS). She is a member of The Digital Ethics Research Collaboratory and has contributed to Qualitative Research, Drain, Visual  Methodologies, and the book Visual Research Methods: An Introduction for Library and Information Studies (2020). In 2022 she will begin a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at University College London.


Paula Nunez de Villavicencio is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the historical and political dimensions of media technology used for the governance and surveillance of select populations. Specifically, her work looks at wearable technology and their role in shaping human conduct in different information systems, as well as, their ethical implications. In broader terms, she is interested in information behaviours and practices, wearable technology, systems of AR, digital humanities and ethics. This research is supported in part by funding from SSHRC.


Elizabeth Parke is the Senior Research Associate at the University of Toronto, Mississauga where she coordinates the Collaborative Digital Research Space (CDRS). She is a specialist in contemporary Chinese art and visual culture and her DH work focuses on the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and archival photographs to  recontextualize performance works in Beijing (1980s-90s) in situ.


Christina Pasqua is from Ottawa, the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg, where her parents and grandparents settled after they immigrated to Canada from Nicaragua and Italy, respectively. She now lives and works in Tkaronto/Toronto. She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion, studying visual translations of the Bible and creation narratives.


Thy Phu is a Professor of Media Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where her teaching, critical humanities studies and publicly engaged scholarship focuses on the visualities of racialized diasporas. She is co-founder of the Critical Refugee + Migration Studies Network of Canada and Director of the Family Camera Network, a collaborative research project that produced an antiracist public archive of family photography and their stories. She is also author or coeditor of five books: Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada; Warring Visions: Photography and Vietnam; Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture; Feeling  Photography; and the forthcoming Cold War Camera.


Leila Pourtavaf is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at York  University. She holds a PhD from the Department of History at the University of Toronto, and was a Visiting Assistant Professor at NYU’s Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from 2018-2020. Her research stands at the intersection of gender, modernity, and Middle Eastern history with a focus on Qajar Iran. Her upcoming book project, The Cosmopolis Harem, looks at the social, cultural and spatial dimensions of the women’s quarter of Nasir al-Din Shah’s court in the second half of the 19th century.


Scott Richmond’s areas of interest include avant-garde and experimental cinema and digital media art, critical theory and phenomenology, and contemporary film and media theory. His research and teaching often mix considerations of high and low, mixing (for example) midcentury experimental film with videogames and blockbusters. He has published on Jackass, Spider-Man, Candy Crush, Andy Warhol, and Tony Conrad. His work has appeared, among other places, in Discourse, World Picture, and the Journal of Visual Culture. His first book, Cinema’s Bodily Illusions: Flying, Floating, and Hallucinating, is published by the University of Minnesota Press. His second book, Find Each Other: Networks, Affects, and Other Queer Encounters is forthcoming from Duke University Press. Scott regularly teaches about digital media aesthetics and film and media theory, including classes entitled “New Media Forms,” “Theories of Media,” and “(New) Media Aesthetics.”

Tia Sager is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and my research focuses on Aegean Bronze Age architecture. Her current dissertation project “The Poetics and Politics of Space: a regional analysis of the Cretan Postpalatial built environment,” considers the social and political dimension of the built environment on the island of Crete during the Late Bronze Age (Late Minoan II-IIIB) by means of space syntax analysis, 3D scanning and modelling, and phenomenological approaches.


Shehroze Saharan is a Master of Information Candidate at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. He is focusing his academics on Information System Design (ISD) and Knowledge Management & Information Management (KMIM). Previously, Shehroze completed a bachelor’s at the University of Guelph in Bio-Medical Science with a Minor in Media Studies & Cinema. He hopes to combine his passion and love for health science and communication with information to carve out a distinct career for himself. Shehroze has also volunteered his time to numerous different organizations such as the Canadian Association for Research in Regenerative Medicine, the Experiential Learning Hub and co-founded and co-chaired a new organization called Students Supporting Seniors. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, reading books, and eating chocolate.


Shehryar (Shay) Saharan is a scientific communicator and designer based in Toronto, Ontario. He uses visual media and design to communicate complex scientific concepts and build interactive, educational and memorable experiences. He is currently in the Masters of Science in Biomedical Communications at the University of Toronto. Here, he focuses on the creation & evaluation of visual media including scientific illustration, UI/UX design, 2D/3D animation, and virtual simulations. His undergraduate degree was in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Guelph. During this time, he focused on the development of medical technologies for the improvement of human health.

Omema Saleri (biography unavailable)

Philip Sapirstein
received his doctorate in Art History and Archaeology from Cornell University (2008), and from 2013–19 he was an Assistant Professor in the School of Art, Art History & Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln prior to joining the Department Art History at the University of Toronto in 2019. His research interests are the history of art and architecture of the Mediterranean, in particular that of ancient Greece, the Near East, and Rome. As one of the leading practitioners in Mediterranean archaeology in digital techniques, notably photogrammetry and 3D analysis, the digital humanities are another important aspect of his research.


Anthony Scott was born and raised in the Badlands of Alberta and now is a PhD Candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto. Interested in the intersection between Pali commentary, meditation theory, and Buddhist statecraft, Tony’s dissertation focuses on a 1948 commentary on the circa third century B.C.E.Questions of King Milinda, composed by a pioneer of insight, orvipassanāmeditation. After completing his dissertation, Tony plans to pursue projects on the public narratives surrounding supposedly enlightened individuals in twentieth-century Southeast Asia and on the history of insight meditation in pre- and early modern Burma as found in palm-leaf and leporello manuscript sources.


Sarina Simmons grew up in a small town two hours west of Toronto and now lives in Kitchener, on the Haldimand Tract. She is a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s
Department for the Study of Religion, and her dissertation looks at the history of missionary religion in Treaty 3 territory.


Caleb Sher is currently pursuing a Master’s of Information at U of T’s iSchool, in  conjunction with the JD program at the Faculty of Law. In the past, he completed a BA at the University of King’s College in Halifax and an MA in Comparative Literature at U of T. He likes thinking, reading, writing, and speaking about Yiddish on the internet. The essential next step in his scholarship is, he thinks, to make more memes in Yiddish.


Tomoko Shida is a recent settler from Japan. She has a BA in history & religious studies from McGill University, a B.Ed in teaching history from the University of Ottawa, an MA in global studies from Sophia University in Tokyo, and an MI in archives & records management from the University of Toronto. A former international school teacher, she currently works as an archivist at UTM Library and is represented by the USW Local 1998.


Harriet Sonne de Torrens is a medievalist and appointed academic librarian at the University of Toronto Mississauga in the Library and the Department of Visual Studies. She completed her doctorate at the University of Copenhagen (2003), which received the Leonard F. Boyle Dissertation Prize by the Canadian Society of Medievalists (2004), and a post-doctoral Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto (2006). H. Sonne de Torrens is an Associated Scholar with the University of Toronto Medieval Centre and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.


Kirsta Stapelfeldt is the Head of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Library’s Digital Scholarship Unit. She has been working with Digital Scholarship/Collections projects since 2010, particularly in the Islandora open-source community, where she is an active Board and Leadership Group member.


Sarah Switzer is a popular educator and community-based participatory researcher living and working in Tkaronto. Inspired by over fifteen years of working at the intersections of community arts, peer programming, and HIV and Harm Reduction, her larger program of research explores how to meaningfully and sustainably engage people living with and impacted by HIV, as well as people who use drugs in program and policy change. She believes strongly in the collective and imaginative power of working collaboratively for social justice and is committed to the principles of participatory research. She has published in the fields of: participatory visual methodologies; harm reduction; youth engagement; HIV communitybased research; participatory action research; visual ethics; and the critical study of participation and engagement. Sarah completed her doctorate at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. She led this study (alongside a tremendous team) in her role as a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at OISE, University of Toronto (2019-2021).


Lawrence Switzky is currently completing a manuscript, The Rise of the Theatre Director: Encounters with the Material World, which demonstrates how theatre directing engaged with and produced new theories of materiality during the first half of the twentieth century. His current research examines the place of theatre within the history of mass computation and artificial intelligence. In many ways, theatre anticipates the computer as a hypermedium that can contain, deploy, and re-mix the other media. He is investigating how theatre has manifested or resisted the discrete logic of the  digital-breaking up a continuous reality into noncontinuous representations; the algorithmic and
virtual basis of most of the past century of dramatic experimentation; and how  automation might be reformulated through puppetry, ventriloquism, devising, and other performance traditions that delegate and distribute agency. He is also co-editor (with David Kornhaber) of the quarterly journal Modern Drama.


Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi is Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Since 2002 he has served as the Editor of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, a Duke University Press journal, and has served on the editorial board of Iranian Studies, the Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies. His areas of specialization encompass Middle Eastern History, Modernity, Nationalism, Gender Studies, Orientalism, and Occidentalism. He is the author of two books, Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism and Nationalist Historiography (Palgrave, 2001) and Tajaddud-i Bumi [Vernacular Modernity] (in Persian, Nashr-i Tarikh, 2003). He has authored numerous articles: “The Homeless Texts of Persianate Modernity,” in Iran–Between Tradition and Modernity (Lexington Books, 2004); “Orientalist Studies and Its Amnesia,” in Antinomies of Modernity (Duke, 2002), “Eroticizing Europe,” in Society and Culture in Qajar Iran: (Mazda, 2002); “Women of the West Imagined,” in Identity Politics and Women (Westview Press, 1994); “From Patriotism to Matriotism: A Tropological Study of Iranian Nationalism, 1870-1909,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (2002), “Inventing Modernity, Borrowing Modernity,” Iran Nameh (2003). Born and raised in the “navel of Tehran,”Iran, Professor Tavakoli is the recipient of two Outstanding Teacher awards from Illinois State University (1996 and 2001); a Research Initiative Award (1992); and visiting fellowships at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University (1998), the Center for Historical Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, 1992-93); and Harvard University (1991-92). He has initiated numerous conferences and workshops on topical issues pertaining to the Middle East, and has encouraged the active involvement of student associations in the organization of scholarly events and community outreach programs.


Miguel A. Torrens is an academic librarian and collections specialist for Philosophy,  Italian Studies, Latin American and Spanish Studies with over 40 years of service at the University of Toronto, Canada. He served as subject consultant for Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, and Latin American Studies at Oxford University Library Services (UK) in 2007-2008. He has been engaged for more than two decades in research projects in the digital humanities, on which he has published extensively.


Andrea Vela Alarcón is an educator, illustrator and community artist based in Tkaronto. She holds an MA in Adult Education and Community Development from OISE. Andrea participated in this project as a graduate assistant during her first year of her PhD at OISE, she is currently pursuing her PhD in Communications and New Media at McMaster University. Her professional background involves a diverse of  community-engaged projects entangled with popular education and cultural production with communities in Peru and Canada. In the past 10 years she has been facilitating creative spaces that involve participatory documentary, independent publication and video essays, all driven with a social justice framework, feminist care, and reciprocity.


Mahdieh Vali-Zadeh is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Comparative Literature of the University of Toronto and a graduate of Harvard World Literature program. She has native proficiency in English, Farsi, and Ṭabarī (a language of northern Iran),  professional working proficiency in French, and intermediate reading knowledge of classic Arabic. Mahdieh is now focused on writing her comparative dissertation, which is about the reception of British Orientalist scholarship of Persian mysticism on the matter of the ‘self’, both individual and national, in two different but related  frameworks: among the British Romantic poets of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century and the Iranian intellectuals of the early to mid-twentieth century. Her comparative Masters’ thesis on the matter of the sublime in Rumi and Wordsworth’s poetry was nominated for Best American Comparative Literature Association Master Thesis Award by York University. Mahdieh is also a professional creative artist who works in the areas of visual arts and cinema. She has held solo exhibitions and participated in group shows of painting and calligraphy worldwide and
directed and presented films (short and feature) in international film festivals.


Krishnapriya Vishnubhotla (biography unavailable)


Tamara Walker’s scholarly interests encompass three interrelated thematic areas: the history of slavery and freedom in Latin America; the process of racial formation in the region; and the ways in which gender shaped the experience of enslavement and racialization. Her work is also inspired by the methodological concern of recovering the subjectivities of enslaved and free people of African descent who rarely had direct access to writing and whose voices were heavily mediated when they did appear on
record. Professor Walker’s research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Association of University Women and the John Carter Brown Library, and has appeared in such publications as Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, Gender & History, and The Journal of Family History. She is the author of Exquisite Slaves: Race, Clothing and Status in Colonial Lima (Cambridge University Press, July 2017) and is currently at work on a new book project that explores the relationship between African slavery and piracy in the Southern Pacific during the era of the Manila Galleon trade.


Jinyan Wang was born and raised in China. She acquired a bachelor’s degree in history at Zhejiang University. After finishing her master’s in Assyriology (the study of ancient
Mesopotamia) in China, she entered the PhD program in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Her training is in reading and analyzing the cuneiform texts, through which we can get a glimpse of the Mesopotamian societies thousands of years ago. Currently, she is writing her PhD thesis, which will present an historical account of the period 630-582 BC in Mesopotamia, a transitional period between two empires, the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empire.


Sheila Wheesk is an M.A. student in the Department of History. Sheila, who is from Taykwa Tagamou First Nation, researches the role of women in Omushkegowuk governance before and after the signing of Treaty No. 9. She uses material culture, particularly women’s beadwork, as a source to investigate how women continued to take up their responsibilities in the face of state legislation (the Indian Act) which marginalized them.


Adrien Zakar is a historian of the late Ottoman world and the modern Middle East with expertise in political and social history, technology studies, and spatial history. Adrien’s research concerns late imperial modes of governance and knowledge production as critically grounded in the materiality of concrete practices such as cartography, geography, and magnetism. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, he received a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2018 and worked as a Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar at the Stanford Humanities Center and a lecturer in the Department of History at the same institution.


This conference would not have been possible without the hard work and
tireless support of numerous contributors.

Our warmest thanks to:
Jennifer Ross and Nelly Cancilla, organizers of the 2021 Digital Humanities conference

The CDHI executive team, including Elspeth Brown, Danielle Taschereau Mamers, Elizabeth Parke,
Elisa Tersigni, Tanya Rohrmoser, Caleb Wellum, Arun Jacob, and Iris Chae

Institutional Strategic Initiatives, OVPRI, University of Toronto
Offices of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean and the Vice-Principal Research, UTM
Offices of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean and the Vice-Principal Research, UTSC
Dean, Faculty of Information
Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS)
Jackman Humanities Institute
Department for the Study of Religion, FAS
Department of Art History, FAS
Department of History, FAS
Woodsworth College