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Digital Scholarship Research Symposium

May 28th, 2021

2021 marks our 5th year of the Digital Scholarship Research Symposium hosted by the University Library at UC Santa Cruz.  Each year, the symposium provides an opportunity for students on campus to present the work they’ve done that uses a variety of digital scholarship techniques.  We’re excited to provide that opportunity again for 2021!  

Our 2021 symposium was hosted remotely via Zoom. You can view the recorded presentations below.

Opening Remarks

Elizabeth Cowell, Richard L. Press University Librarian Presidential Chair


Lightning Talks
(3-7 min talks)
"How the News Remembered UCSC Anti-Apartheid Organizing (1977-86)"
Presented by: Thomas Sawano

"Documentary as Social Database History"
Presented by: Daniel Rudin

"Okinawa Memories Initiative Project History Timeline"
Presented by: Sage Michaels
Project Collaborators: Mary “Miki” Arlen, Alyssa Davis, Sam Garbus, Sage Michaels, Jared Guzman, and Nicholas Ruiz


The Empty Year: An Oral History of the Pandemic(s) of 2020 at UC Santa Cruz
Presented by: David Duncan, Isabella Crespin, and Aitanna Parker
Project Collaborators:  Kathia Damian, Maryam Nazir, Irene Reti, Cameron Vanderscoff


Q&A Session for previous talks




Lessons from Lockdown: Researching Gender and Labor in Ancient Egypt

Presented by: Elise Benton, Elena Castaneda, Rodolfo Christopher Gil, Bailey Van Tassell


New Tricks for Old Persian

Presented by: Leighton Smith


Q&A Session for previous talks


Speculative Futures: An alternative present

Presented by: Saul Villegas


CollageDance: an Interactive Web Lesson on Media Theory
Presented by: Will Bortin 


Q&A Session for previous talks




Sustainability in the Theater

Presented by: Maya Mathews


What Cinema Could've Been... Gender and sexual ambiguity in Pre-Code Hollywood and the Motion Picture Production Code of 1934 

Presented by: Ira Irvani


Remember Us: Holocaust Representations in European-Jewish Émigré Film, 1942-1944

Presented by: Maya Gonzalez


Q&A Session for previous talks

Digital Scholarship Research Symposium Presenters:

Students protesting outside McHenry library

Image Credit: Courtesy of UCSC Special Collections (view source here), created by Don Fukuda and Shmuel Thaler 

How the News Remembered UCSC Anti-Apartheid Organizing (1977-86)

Thomas Sawano (he/him)
​UCSC 3rd year Undergraduate, Philosophy and Cognitive Science major

View the online StoryMaps exhibit here.

On July 18, 1986, the UC Regents made a historic vote to sell off $3.1 billion of its investments tied to the Apartheid regime in South Africa -- the culmination of a near-decade long push from activists inside and outside the university alike. This research project, the first installment of a larger series documenting student activist movements on the UCSC campus throughout its 55 years and counting, examines not only the process by which organizers won the divestment fight, but also how the lens of the news media affects our memory of these events today. 

Image Credit: Daniel Rudin

Documentary as Social Database History

Daniel Rudin
​UCSC Film and Digital Media, Graduate Candidate

My dissertation, Counter/Public: The Politics of Committed Film in the Philippines follows two articulations—academic writing and a digital humanist method. My lightning talk will showcase the results of this second method and discuss theoretical concepts it was derived from. Specifically, the research consists of conversations with cultural producers and political participants active during Philippine democratization. These conversations were guided by the interviewee’s own writings and were carefully lit and filmed with two cameras. Edited versions were posted on a public YouTube channel; the interviews also served as basis for an interactive documentary.

Image Credit: Photo by Dr. Charles Gail, image composed by Sage Michaels

Okinawa Memories Initiative Project History Timeline

Sage Michaels
​UCSC Undergraduate, Third year, Intensive History major

Project Collaborators
​Mary “Miki” Arlen, Alyssa Davis, Sam Garbus, Sage Michaels, Jared Guzman, and Nicholas Ruiz

View the OMI project timeline here.

This year, I led a team of students in creating a timeline of the Okinawa Memories Initiative’s (OMI) project history. OMI is a public history project that explores the postwar history of Okinawa, Japan, from a global perspective through collaborative storytelling. For the timeline project, the team conducted interviews with past and present OMI members to understand how OMI has evolved over the years. The team built the timeline to highlight the work OMI has accomplished, and in doing so, hope to articulate why this project matters to so many people. The timeline has become a part of OMI’s website where the public can learn more about OMI and Okinawan history and culture.

To create the OMI timeline, our team used a variety of technology. We began by using Zoom to conduct and record interviews with OMI members. From those recordings, we used to create transcripts of the interviews. Google Drive houses OMIs photographs and documents from over the years so it served as a digital catalog to reference in addition to the interviews. The final step was to style and add the timeline to OMI’s website which is a WordPress site. 

Cover for the book, The Empty Year

Image Credit: Cover of the book project, photo by Jaden Schaul

The Empty Year: An Oral History of the Pandemic(s) of 202 at UC Santa Cruz

David Duncan
​UCSC History PhD Student

​Isabella Crespin

Aitanna Parker

Project Collaborators
Kathia Damian, Maryam Nazir, Irene Reti, Cameron Vanderscoff

Free PDF Version of the book available here.

This oral history project brought together 7 UCSC students together with the Regional History Project to create an oral history book about how the pandemic affected the school. The team members met each other virtually over Zoom, along with training, brainstorming, and conducting the interviews themselves. The digital aspects of interviewing over Zoom meant that the scope of the book expanded well beyond the physical borders of the Santa Cruz area. From the CZU Complex Fire and the power outages, to the graduate student strike and the calls for social justice, this project captures diverse experiences in a time like no other.  The interviews conducted during last fall continue to gain new meaning as we progress through the pandemic and learn more about how 2020 has changed all our lives. 

Zoom was the primary tool for meeting and conducting interviews. Not only did we face the challenge of planning a book over Zoom, but we also needed to learn how to conduct oral history interviews remotely. In addition to sharing some meaningful sections of our book, we also hope to explore questions regarding our own processes, challenges, and reflections in what the significance of this oral history project means!

Image Credit: Model Bakery and Brewery from the Tomb of Meketre, Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Open Access image


Elise Benton (she/her)
​UCSC Undergraduate, Third-year, History and Politics double major, Classical Studies minor

Elena Castaneda
Class of 2020, History major

Rodolfo Christopher Gil

Bailey Van Tassell (he/him)
UCSC Alumn // Class of 2020, Politics major, History minor

Adobe Spark Video Link:  

In our talk, we will discuss the challenges of collaborating during a once-in-a-century pandemic, as well as describe our Spring 2020 "Gendered Object" video project for HIS 159B: Women and Gender in Ancient Egypt. The project is an analysis of gender roles during Egypt's Middle Kingdom as conveyed through a wooden model of a bakery and brewery. Our analysis of the model, informed by the art and history of Ancient Egypt, allowed us to interrogate modern and antiquated conceptions of gender and paint a more whole picture of gendered labor in Egypt's Middle Kingdom. To achieve our vision for the project, we collaboratively made an Adobe Spark video explaining our research. Each of us created a set number of slides and recorded voiceovers for each one.

A photograph of the Behistun inscription

Image Credit: Hara1603 - This file has been extracted from another file: Bisotun Iran Relief Achamenid Period.JPG,Public Domain

New Tricks for Old Persian

Leighton Smith (he/him)
UCSC, Undergraduate, Literature/Classics
Digital Scholarship Undergraduate Fellow

For those who study Persian history and Persian languages, the Behistun Inscription has a unique, irreplaceable importance. As the longest attestation of both Old Persian and the ideology of the Achaemenid Empire, this monument to Darius I provides glimpses into everything from the fine details of the grammar and syntax of an obscure language to the grandiose rhetoric of a burgeoning empire. Nonetheless, the accessibility of this inscription has remained out of step with its paramount importance for studying the Achaemenid Empire and the world in which it existed. This presentation, “New Tricks for Old Persian,” will demonstrate the “new tricks” from Digital Humanities which can render the Behistun Inscription easier to access and read for new students of Old Persian. In the process of presenting the bells and whistles of my website, I also hope to demonstrate how this model of digitization could be generalizable to other marginal languages for the sake of curious undergraduates and researchers in adjacent fields. Finally, I will take time to acknowledge the deficiency of this website in reproducing an artificial division of monument and inscription and then imagine how a more robust digitization project could integrate both the Behistun monument and the Behistun inscriptions.

Image Credit: Saul Villegas

Speculative Futures: An alternative present

Saul Villegas
UCSC, Undergraduate
Digital Scholarship Undergraduate Fellow

Explore the interactive experience here!

Speculative Futures: An alternative present is a mixed media project focused on reconstructing the still image through computer editing programs. The revisualization of imagery in our minds captivates new ways of understanding the material presented. Using 2D photographs, video projections, and 3D objects, the stylization of imagery transforms from a still into an object––the moving image and scene environment, through collaboration with Hawaiʻi Undersea Research Lab (HURL) and the Institute of Marine Sciences, THI, DSC, and the DARC at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Working closely with Marine Biologist Researchers at UCSC to create an Art and Science project interpretation was inspirational for this exhibition’s adoption. The present exhibition is an effort to create an inter disciplinarian community based on creative practice and research to develop a new awareness of the digital mediums used in the art world. Communicating information in various ways becomes a way for artists to present their research via the internet. Mozilla Hubs is an alternative exhibition space for experiencing projections and mocking in-person environments created for artistic expression. In contrast, while remaining technology-based and non-physical, these efforts are extensions to digital archives and art communities, drawing upon the effort to bridge art and science. Analyzing digital formulas for creating virtual studio spaces is an experimental approach to archiving ideas in collage form and virtual scenic participation. The university libraries and knowledge-based systems are investigated and presented in alternative views, holding information designed for the human experience. How can we create similar systems for academic consumption while fostering our voices and artistic expression? Challenging how we traditionally cross-pollinate philosophical inquiry into these structures, the interdisciplinary aesthetics of various mediums lead to confrontation on the institution and how creating a more diverse way of seeing can implement academic growth and discovery. 

Introduction image

Image Credit: Introduction. by Will Bortin

CollageDance: an Interactive Web Lesson on Media Theory

Will Bortin (he/him/his)
UCSC, 3rd year Undergraduate, Film & Digital Media (DM concentration) and Philosophy double major
Digital Scholarship Undergraduate Fellow

View the interactive Web Lesson here!

My presentation will actually consist of 3 separate presentations: one slides-based, one where I navigate through the website itself, and one consisting mostly of pre-recorded videos. Each of these will give a rough understanding of the website, its structure, and my goals in creating it, but expressed in different media. The audience will be allowed to choose which presentation to sit through at the beginning of my time.

Image Credit: David Cuthbert

Sustainability in the Theater

Maya Mathews (she/her/hers)
UCSC, Third year Undergraduate, Theater Arts
Digital Scholarship Undergraduate Fellow

Sustainability in the theater is a subject of ever-increasing significance as the industry adapts alongside rapid technological advances. This project focuses on the obstacles which prevent members of the theater community from taking certain steps to increase theatrical sustainability. Taking this into consideration alongside factors such as environmental advances in other industries, this research aims to guide in making a suggestion as to how the theater industry should adapt over the long and short term to reduce its environmental impact.

Image Credit: The Dream is Gone, Original film by Ira Irvani featuring Jazz Vukalic. 

What Cinema Could've Been... Gender and sexual ambiguity in Pre-Code Hollywood and the Motion Picture Production Code of 1934

Ira Irvani
UCSC, Senior Undergraduate, Film and Digital Media
Digital Scholarship Undergraduate Fellow 

Research revolving around censorship in 1930s American Cinema and how those rules and regulations shaped gender and sexuality in American Culture. I made a narrative student film based in pre-code Hollywood from what inspired me from my research. Using Storymaps I have incorporated sections of my research paper and media from my student film to more closely relate the two projects to give a more rounded research project.

Image Credit: Landing page of StoryMaps site by Maya Gonzalez

Remember Us: Holocaust Representations in European-Jewish Émigré Film, 1942-1944

Maya Gonzalez (she/they)
UCSC, 4th year Undergraduate, Intensive History and Jewish Studies
Digital Scholarship Undergraduate Fellow

Check out Maya's project website here!

"Remember Us" is an online digital exhibit built from Maya's Jewish Studies senior thesis. The website, created on ArcGIS StoryMaps, weaves together the biographies of three Jewish and European émigré directors in wartime America and their respective Holocaust films produced between 1942 and 1944. These men tasked themselves with the difficult mission of warning the public against the Nazi threat to Jewish life in Europe through the only means available to them: film. The interactive exhibit utilizes still images, videos, and a narrative presentation to reveal their individual efforts to fight antisemitism, xenophobia, and censorship during World War II.