Digital Dissertation Fellowships

digital dissertation fellowships

These fellowships support graduate students wishing to include significant digital components in their major research projects in the humanities and arts, and who wish to strengthen their digital methods capacities while collaborating with others. Fellows have access to up to five hours per week of consultation and support for their digital research projects, including methods training, planning, project management assistance, and feedback on their ongoing projects. They also have received a stipend to support their work and participated in cohort meetings during the Fall semester.

2018 Digital Dissertation Fellows

Katherine Hysmith American Studies

Katherine Hysmith is a PhD Student in American Studies with research interests in Food Studies,  Women & Gender Studies, Material Culture, and Digital Humanities. Hysmith’s dissertation “investigates how women in the United States have used and continue to use food as a means of resistance, focusing on the evolving technologies they use to express that resistance.” Hysmith will use the Digital Dissertation fellowship to develop digital methodologies in two ways; “first, is a process of digital data collection and organization; and second, a digital and public-facing multimodal presentation of [her] final dissertation narrative.” Watch her reflection here.


Tyler Easterbrook – English and Comparative Literature

Tyler Easterbrook is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Fellow in English and Comparative Literature with research interests in Digital Rhetoric, Rhetorical theory, Science and Technology studies. Specifically, Easterbrook is interested in the Terms of Service agreements on the internet and the dilemma that, other than corporate lawyers, no one understands them.  Easterbrook will use the Digital Dissertation Fellowship “for support in developing an interactive web-based interface that challenges users to reimagine their engagement with terms of service agreements.” Watch his reflection here.



Joseph CraneJoseph Crane – Sociology

Joseph Crane is a PhD Candidate in Sociology who completed his MA in Sociology at Carolina in 2017. Crane’s research project “is to examine variations in political speech across time, more specifically how the narrative stories told by members of an online politically conservative community change over time and especially how they change in reaction to major political events, such as presidential elections.” Crane will use a Python script to scrape comments from a chosen online community, and will then perform a content analysis on this scraped data. Watch his reflection here.



Angus Lyall

Angus Lyall – Geography

Angus Lyall is a fifth year PhD Student in Geography that has been working on his dissertation project since 2014  “conduct[ing] interviews and participant observation with over 150 indigenous informants in five communities to explore accelerated cultural change and territorial transformations in the contemporary era of oil extraction.” Lyall will use the Digital Dissertation to “deploy participatory filmmaking, as a medium for sparking ethnographic reflections from indigenous individuals and groups on the issue of urbanization” and “to develop a web-based platform that fully integrates my video, audio, and archival research products in a series of historical maps.” Watch his reflection here


Gabriel Moss

Gabriel Moss – History

Gabriel Moss is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant in the Historydepartment writing a dissertation entitled Hostile Terrain: Empire, Resistance, and Military Geography on the Roman Frontier which uses tools like GIS. Moss will use the Digital Dissertation to “provide [him] with invaluable time and resources to perfect mapping techniques for evaluating historical environments and to develop methods of digital publication to present my data in an interactive format…including a series of interactive maps using ArcGIS Online, and perhaps to use that platforms new “story mapping” features to create a public-facing portal.” Watch his reflection here.



Melissa Dollman

Melissa Dollman American Studies 

Melissa Dollman is a PhD Student in American Studies with research interests in Film/Media and Digital Humanities. Dollman’s dissertation Changing LanesA Reanimation of Shell Oil’s Carol Lane, is interested in “Carol Lane” a public relations program targeting women drivers sponsored by Shell Oil Company from 1947-1974. Dollman uses several digital components in the dissertation but will specifically use the Digital Dissertation Fellowship to develop a digital platform for the Carol Lane archive that she has been working on since 2013, amassing over 3,000 items. Watch her reflection here.






2017 Digital Dissertation Fellows


Emma BuckinghamEmma Buckingham – Classical Archaeology

Emma Buckingham is working to combine bulk analysis of archaeological field data with 3D modeling of excavation sites to test models of identity formation in ancient Sicily against facts represented by thousands of objects found in 15 excavations in the southeastern region of the island. This will seek to improve understanding of the assimilation of Greek culture by the indigenous people in the 7th and early 6th centuries BCE, and the ways this phenomenon progressed throughout the period.


Bradley Erickson

Bradley Erickson – Religious Studies

Bradley Erickson is developing his dissertation in Religious Studies, using 3D models of 6th and 7th century Byzantine synagogues to argue that artwork and architecture in these buildings were aligned with celestial bodies and events for the purpose of connecting the liturgy and Jewish historical narrative to astronomical events. A dynamic presentation will allow viewers to inhabit the synagogue models and observe these features against a location- and time-accurate night sky in a virtual environment.



Charlotte Fryar – American Studies

Charlotte Fryar is working toward an interactive digital database of oral histories and archival materials centered on student activist organizations. This will involve research in UNC-Chapel Hill’s University Archives and oral histories with alumni activists, in order to unify and extend the legacy of the struggle against institutional racism at Carolina. The project will consider the dimension of scholarly interpretation inherent in digital curation, as well as how to leverage digital tools to build stronger connections between scholarship, activism, and publication. The database will serve users as a resource for building exhibits, understanding the history and tactics of organized resistance, and employing this knowledge in activism in the present and future.


Grant Glass

Grant Glass-English

Grant Glass is working to map, visualize and understand the dissemination and variation of Robinson Crusoe through thousands of manifestations and imitations that have appeared over time. This will involve the development of machine analysis techniques for text, as well as explorations of Google and social media platforms to track the myth’s broader proliferation through culture. A machine learning algorithm will be developed to learn the text and contexts in Crusoe and this will facilitate connections with keywords and themes in a broad spectrum of media that connect to this narrative.


Jacob Hill- Library and Information ScienceJacob Hill

Jacob Hill has previously received a Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative grant. His current work explores intertextual relationships in a large collection of Persian and Arabic texts authored by Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri (Baha’u’llah), the founder of the Baha’I faith. These writings, often prompted by queries addressed to Baha’u’llah, largely preoccupied with the understanding of Islamic texts, ideas, and theories. Jacob is employing topic modeling, citation analysis, and word embedding practices to reconstruct connections between the writings of Baha’u’llah (lost through non-attribution or obscure citations) and their deeper contexts.


Mary Learner

Mary Learner-English Literature

The tentatively-titled “Material Sampling and Patterns of Thought in Early Modern England” explores sampling as an epistemological mode in the Early Modern era. Using Superfastmatch, an open source document comparison software platform, Mary Learner will show the extent of sampling of contemporary ballads in Shakespeare’s plays, exploring the possibility that this phenomenon displaces the Bard’s works as the apex of popular early modern culture.



Sarah Singer

Sarah Singer-Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy

Singer is building a research method toward an understanding of the creation, production, and dissemination of knowledge about Lyme Disease, working to unravel the conflicts between information sources and stakeholders that create barriers to the best and most useful knowledge, to the detriment of the actual fight against the disease. She intends to present visualizations of her results in forms that are accessible to public and scholarly audiences alike.