I am currently serving as a data integration specialist (aka data wrangling) on a 2020 U.S. election research project at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. My background is interdisciplinary, and I formerly combined my expertise in book history, fluency in Japanese, and background in information science in a career as a librarian (primarily at the Penn Libraries, working with the Japanese and Korean collections). While data science and area studies librarianship may seem unrelated, the same drive brought me to both: doing socially impactful work using computer and information science. In addition to my work as a librarian, I taught the seminar East Asian Digital Humanities (EALC111/511) (living work-in-progress syllabus PDF at mollydesjardin.com) at Penn in Spring 2018. (Please feel free to reuse my related documents because I don’t plan on offering the course again, and there is certainly a need and interest on the part of students!) In 2014, I also co-founded WORD LAB, a library-based text analysis learning community, and served as an organizer for over five years.
I was trained in British literary history; I teach courses in that subject along with courses in data science and digital humanities. My active research interest is—to put it broadly—exploring the relationship between human cultural history and machine learning. It’s a relationship can be imagined in lots of different ways. Most of the things I’ve published so far use machine learning to study literary history. But in that sentence, the verb “use” is perhaps a little slippery, or misleading—if it makes us imagine ML simply as a tool like a microscope that gets applied to a cultural object. I’ve found that machine learning is often useful, rather, because it can absorb a particular time- and place-bound human perspective, and reproduce that perspective in a reliable way. There is perhaps a blurry line between that way of using models to study the past, and using language models in a generative way to reproduce or pastiche cultural practices. I suspect it’s going to be an interestingly blurry line.
I’m a project manager and learning experience designer pursuing a PhD in literature. I’m particularly interested in digital pedagogy and technology integration in the humanities in higher ed. Professionally, I’ve worked with learners in K-12 environments, as well as college and graduate students, to make concepts like data, networked devices, and digital surveillance accessible and actionable. My literary criticism focuses on contemporary literature, the urban environment, and embodiment as a means of theorizing human-computer interaction, “play,” and experiential learning.
I specialize in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English poetry and women’s writing, with secondary expertise in history of science. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas. In Fall 2019, I will take up a position as Assistant Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology. My research explores the relationship between tangibility and intangibility. In my digital work, this relationship informs my efforts to put bodies back into data and to experiment with how technology helps us engage differently with historical literary texts. In my current book project, Perverse Intimacies: Poetry, Anatomy, and the Early Modern Female Form, I explore the heretofore undetected collisions between feminist poetic practice and Renaissance anatomical methods. Perverse Intimacies establishes early modern women writers as active interlocutors within emerging scientific discourses and offers a new definition of poetic form shaped by the informational models of early science.
Melanie Walsh is a Postdoctoral Associate in Information Science at Cornell University, where she works with David Mimno’s group. She received her PhD in English & American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include digital humanities, cultural analytics, social media, and American literature & culture—preferably all of the above combined. In spring 2020, she designed and taught an undergraduate course that prepares students in the humanities to analyze cultural materials—such as books, movies, historical records, and social media posts—with digital and computational tools. The course included an introduction to the programming language Python. She is preparing to release an online textbook designed for the course in summer 2020.
British Literature, Victorian Literature and Culture, Romanticism, South African Literature, Novel, Poetry, Literary Theory and Criticism, Philosophy, Intellectual History, Science, History of Science, Literature and Science, Mathematics and Literature, Law and Literature, Animal Studies
Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies, Writing Assessment, Technical Communication, Biography, Theory, Technology and Education, World Literature
I am interested in how various iterations of “openness”—including OA publishing models, open educational models, and open peer review, as well as open and transparent scholarly practices—might help foster a more inclusive, equitable, and community-oriented academy. I am co-PI on the Mellon-funded HumetricsHSS initiative, an investigation into the viability of a values-based framework for indicating excellence, and a founding editor of The Idealis, an overlay journal promoting the best in open-access scholarly communication. I serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication and the organizing committee of the Force11 Scholarly Communication Institute.