My research broadly examines Black women who traveled abroad for their education motives, either teaching, researching, or studying, during the 20th century. With the Digital Humanities (DH) Capstone Project, I wanted to utilize digital tools to explore, present, and interpret my research. My overall aim was to engage a wider audience with my research, solidify my understanding of digital tools (those I have used in prior classes and those that were new), and to gain a better understanding of my research topic.
At our first meeting for the Capstone Project, we discussed our overall aims for the semester. I pointed out what I wanted my project to entail — a website that included blogs, podcasts, and story maps that addressed various aspects of my broad research interest. Based on the nature of my project, I became paired with a member of the Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio who would help me think through my project: Ethan DeGross, a research developer. Ethan was able to provide me with advice to help me get started on my project. He offered me advice on how to get a Google domain name for my research, how to organize my website, what platform would best host my project (while responding to my needs and budget), and what digital tools would best support work. Our meetings were helpful because it helped me to recognize the technical aspect of my project as I moved forward.
After these meetings, I got to work. I got my Google domain, set up my website with WordPress, an open-source publishing platform, and started to work on my podcast. Completing a podcast represented an exciting step for me, but I had limited experience in creating one. For my Introduction to Digital Humanities course, I participated in a group podcast on the intellectual landscape of digital humanities. However, for this project, I did not tape or edit the podcast. For my Capstone Project, however, I would be taking on the responsibility of deciding the content I wanted to talk about, being the only person on the podcast, and editing the podcast after I completed it. Despite some initial challenges, in figuring out what software to use, I chose, Audacity, a free, open-source digital audio-editor, things moved smoothly. Before doing the podcast entitled, “Musing on the Connections between Black Women’s Global Travels and their Education” (tentative title), I wrote down notes on some key points I wanted to address in the podcast and briefly practiced how I would approach these points. After, I used an audio recorder to record the podcast, which lasted for approximately forty minutes. Then, I used Audacity to make slights edits to the podcast. Overall, I was happy with the quality of the podcast. It was based on the first chapter of my dissertation research and provided me with the opportunity to focus on specific aspects of my research in an informed, yet informal manner.
With this project, there is much more work to be done. For instance, I have started using other digital tools such as ESRI StoryMaps, a platform that combines authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content, to explore and digitally map the academic and professional pathways, both domestic and international, of various Black women. I am excited about the future of this project. Ultimately, working on this project has rejuvenated my enthusiasm for my dissertation research. I want my research to exist outside of the walls of academic, in a manner that is accessible to wider audiences. The time with this capstone and my continuing efforts with my project after the capstone will make this possible.