Hi, my name is Rachael Zeltzer! I am a senior at Bennington College focusing on Christianity in the early Middle Ages. This summer, I interned for the Center for Medieval Studies with the Digital Humanities (D.H.) team. Before this experience, I honestly did not know very much about Digital Humanities; however, I quickly realized just how much D.H. could transform and alter data, sources, and even just words. When I arrived at Fordham, the D.H. team was in the middle of two major mapping projects, and I was lucky enough to be a contributor to both of these!
One of the projects (Forthcoming: Exploring Place in the French of Italy) involved taking a corpus of French texts written in Italy during the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, scanning them into the computer, using programs to strip the text, searching for certain geographical places and how many times they occurred, compiling this data into spread sheets, and then mapping the toponyms onto different maps. Though I was specifically working with the data sheets, this project allowed me, as well as the rest of the team, to think about these texts in entirely new ways. Because it was digitalized, we were also able to manipulate the data differently.
Even though mapping is not necessarily part of my studies, I was so excited to be working with such a driven, intelligent team. This project not only taught me more about the French of Italy and its geographical context/importance, but also about how to, refreshingly, think about the humanities and the Middle Ages. Digital Humanities is something I now want to try to bring to Bennington!
I want to thank Dr. Hafner, Dr. Morreale, and the rest of the team for being a part of such a fruitful, interesting, and rewarding experience!