MiddData consults on, funds, and supports projects by faculty, staff, and students throughout the institution.

Image of dancers in The Wild.

Our goal is to generate new ways to bring students into scholarship using data and digital methods, assist with teaching and curricular development, coordinate faculty and student connections to technologists at Middlebury, and help link research and teaching to civically engaged public work. Explore funding options.

The Dutch Textile Trade Project

Textile image

The  Dutch Textile Trade Project is a data-driven visual textile glossary that examines Dutch East and West India Company economic data alongside the visual and material record of historic trade textiles. The website—which will expand as the data set grows—provides downloadable data, interactive web applications, and short essays that interpret these data in the context of contemporary images and extant textile samples. 

This project was created in collaboration with developers Morgan Schwartz and Jen Henel, and many, many others. We also want to acknowledge the critical support of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and Middlebury College’s MiddData.

Project Team: Prof. Carrie Anderson, History of Art and Architecture; Marsely Kehoe, Independent Researcher; See full list of contributors.

The Media Portrayal of Minorities Project

Screen capture from Media portrayals of minorities project.

Prof. Erik Bleich (Political Science) with colleague A. Maurits Van Der Veen (Assoc. Prof. of Government, College of William & Mary) lead The Media Portrayal of Minorities Project.  Student and faculty researchers with the lab use validated lexical sentiment analysis to rate the tone of hundreds of thousands of media articles about minority groups and about racial justice movements in the United States and abroad. In this work, topic modeling, collocations, and feature analysis facilitate an understanding of the thematic focus that newspapers bring to coverage of contested topics of difference and justice. These computer-assisted methods provide a systematic quantitative grounding that then enables informed qualitative analysis. This work has led to multiple published articles, student senior theses, and the 2022 book Covering Muslims:  American Newspapers in Comparative Perspective.

The Wilds

Image of dancers on stage from the performance of The Wilds.

Middlebury choreographer and dancer Laurel Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Dance, debuted The Wilds in 2022, a highly collaborative mixed reality performance experience (music, video, and dance) where movement instantly becomes music as emerging technology allows dancers to create an immersive journey of sound, light, and visual media in real time.  Part mythology, part utopian vision, The Wilds fuses live dancers with motion capture technology and real-time animation inspiring a profound bond of a shared, collective experience.  The performance immerses the audience in sound, movement, and visual vibration to evoke a sense of our collective humanity.

Although the performances relies on digital technology to translate movement into sounds and visuals, Jenkins explained to Amy Lilly of Vermont’s Seven Days, that “the work is not about technology. The technology is in service of amplifying the body…It’s not just, I move my arm, and the light turns blue. It’s a more generative relationship between movement and technology.’”

Project Team: Director Cláudio Medeiros, Professor of Theatre;  new media artist Jesse Fleming; choreographer and dancer Laurel Jenkins; composer and musician Lewis Pesacov; and dancers devika v. wickremesinghe and Miguel Alejandro Castillo ‘17.5.  Photo by Mitch West.

Tracing the Apocalypse: From Ancient Texts to Contemporary Media

Image of an ancient painting depicting Rome on fire.

Prof. Christopher Star of the Classics Department, is working on a digital database tracing the uses and meanings of the word “apocalypse” in news sources and popular media over time.  This work builds on Prof. Star’s recent book, Apocalypse and Golden Age:  The End of the World in Greek and Roman Thought (Johns Hopkins, 2021, and is featured in an article in Psyche.  Prof. Star has collaborated with Prof. Erik Bleich (Political Science) in developing methods for database construction which allow for in-depth analysis of large corpora of media sources. 

Project Team: Prof. Christopher Star, Middlebury Department of Classics.

Social Science Research Modules (SSRM) Project

Image of students studying with text

The SSRM project provides students with a flexible, on-demand, online, open-source modular system of research training for students, faculty, and others.  First conceived by Dr. Lisa Gates, Associate Dean for Fellowships and Research, SSRM modules provide skills training for students wishing to conduct independent research but who have not yet taken a research methods course.  They also supplement research methods courses across the curriculum.  The project is a joint venture across Middlebury College and the Middlebury Institute in Monterey, CA, and is supported by midd.data.  

The module on survey research is complete and available to students and faculty.

Project Directors: Netta Avineri, Associate Professor TESOL/TFL, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey;  Lisa Gates, Associate Dean for Fellowships and Research, Middlebury College; Matt Lawrence, Associate Professor of Sociology, Middlebury College; and Phil Murphy, Associate Professor, Policy Analytics, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. See full Project Team.

The Collinwood Fire, 1908

Collingwood fire section

The Collinwood Fire, 1908 has the scope of a scholarly book but is, instead, a formally complex, multimedia, digital story. Many people contributed to the project, and we hope that others will do so by using and responding to it.

Teachers and students working together built every part of the website. From the beginning, our efforts had to be intensely collaborative because no individual had the range of design, technical, cinematic, research, and writing skills to complete it. This kind of shared digital scholarship in the humanities still stands in its infancy.

One turn in the digital humanities is toward the mining and processing of enormous bodies of data, but our project harnesses computing power in a very different way—to tell stories across media and in ways that have simply not been available to previous generations of students and scholars.

Project Team: Michael Newbury, Daniel Houghton, Elise Biette ’16.5, Maddie Dai ’14, Hosain Ghassemi ’17, James Graham ’16, Justin Holmes, Chad Kahn ’16, Sofy Maia ’16

Land and Lens: Photographers Envision the Environment

A photograph from the Land and Lens collection showing a field gate in the fog.

The Land and Lens exhibition features 71 photographs drawn primarily from the Middlebury College Museum of Art’s rich holdings of historic and contemporary photography. Several years in the making, Land and Lens was curated by Kirsten Hoving, Middlebury College professor of history of art, with the assistance of numerous students in her classes, interns, and research assistants.

Instead of publishing an exhibition catalog to be read after visiting the museum, the team produced a digital catalog to be accessed on the spot as visitors make their way through the exhibition.

Project Team: Kirsten Hoving, Kirk Horton ’17, Tevan Goldberg ’18, Sam Kudman ’17, Danny Padilla ’20, Kristin Richards ’17, Scott Waller ’17, Danielle Weindling ’17, Rachel Kang ’19

Field House Museum

An archive photo of the 1907 Middlebury College baseball team.

The exhibits on the Field House Museum site were generated by students in the winter term course Designing a Field House Museum, in collaboration with faculty, archivists, athletic administrators, and representatives of Sasaki Associates, the architectural firm charged with designing the new field house.

Each exhibit offers a thematic approach to Middlebury sports history. A separate exhibit features interviews with Middlebury coaches and administrators. Finally, we have created a timeline of Middlebury athletics.

Project Team: Holly Allen

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