Scaredy Cat?

To kick off the beginning of October here at the IDHMC, we will be posting some Halloween-themed blogs throughout the month. Today we will be looking at the mystery behind black cats and where they got the ‘bad rap’ they hold to this day. Be sure to check out 18th Connect to find out more information and discover more amazing artifacts in the database!

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Bastet, Egyptian cat goddess of the Second Dynasty

Contrary to modern superstitions, the black cat was originally seen as a symbol of luck and prosperity dating back to 2890 BC in Egypt. In that time, the cat goddess Bastet was worshipped by Egyptians; she was believed to bless those who hosted black cats in their homes.


King Charles I of England, 1625-1649






Over 4,000 years later, Charles I of England supposedly treasured a black cat in his home to bring him good luck.The story goes that the day Charles’ cat passed away, he claimed that his luck was gone and was arrested for treason the next day (March 1641).

black cat

Witch and a Black Cat, by Unknown, from “The Picture Magazine”, 1894


Despite these positive associations, black cats became symbols of witchcraft and evil beginning in the late Middle Ages throughout the Renaissance and Puritan era. Black cats were drowned and killed on spot as they were considered inherently evil and agents of Satan. As the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve gradually turned into the tradition we know today, black cats and witches became synonymous with October and Halloween festivities.

salem gif

So whether you believe that they will bring you good luck or misfortune, it is clear black cats have an interesting and mysterious history that continues to fascinate cultures to this day.

cat gif

Have more interest in the history and lore of black cats? Be sure to visit 18th Connect to find various images, poems, and historical documents that revolve around this mysterious (and nefarious) animal.

Images provided by the New York Library Digital Collection


Written by Taylor Phillips

Job Posting: IDHMC Graduate Research Position!

Graduate Research Assistantship

Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC)

The Advanced Research Consortium (ARC), housed in the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC), seeks to hire a Graduate Research Assistant for Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. This will be a 9-month appointment, and the GAR will report to the ARC director, Dr. Laura Mandell, while also coordinating with ARC staff at Texas A&M University, the University of Virginia, and North Carolina State University.

Research will focus on scholarly communication, academic peer review of digital projects, and working directly with large humanities datasets. ARC is a hub of digital research nodes, accessed through the web, that contain resources spanning the bulk of existing Western documents, from medieval times to the early 20th-century. Each ARC node contains data about historical documents, scanned page images (with text transcriptions), scholarly research, and open-source teaching and research tools (Juxta, TypeWright).

The GAR for ARC will aid in the coordination of these resources by aiding future development of nodes and conducting outreach in the scholarly community. The GAR will aid in the aggregation of digital projects for ARC, including but not limited to contributing TAMU faculty projects. The GAR will research, present, and perform cutting-edge research in the digital humanities. The GAR will research and practice metadata standards for digital humanities projects. The GAR will participate in the effort to build a pipeline from the ARC data repository to the Humanities Visualization Space (launch date: Fall 2013). The GAR will research and present on the inclusion of ARC data sets and tools in the classroom environment.

This is graduate research position as defined by the University, and GARs will be required to work an average of 20 hours per week. Tuition waivers will not be provided for Master’s students, per CLA policy, and potential tuition waivers for PhD students will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

No prior programming skills are necessary, but the GAR will be required to submit an article to a peer-reviewed digital humanities journal concerning his or her work on ARC by the end of the assistantship.  Dr. Mandell and the staff here will help the GAR accomplish this task.


Please send a cover letter and CV to Dr. Laura Mandell and Dr. Maura Ives at by Monday, July 22, 2013.

Click here to see the official job ad.

IDHMC Undergraduate internships

The IDHMC offers unpaid undergraduate internships for students in Communication, Computer Science, English, Education, History, Hispanic Studies, Modern Languages, Visualization, and other fields relevant to the research projects we support.  Interns work up to ten hours a week on innovative research projects in a variety of disciplines and receive technical training in a number of digital tools.  More details available at

or contact Maura Ives,  IDHMC Associate Director (idhmc at tamu dot edu).  The application deadlines are June 24 (for Summer II) and August 16 (for Fall 2013).

Wanted: Professor for the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture

Texas A&M University seeks to hire a dynamic researcher with an established record in digital humanities research and/or humanities, artistic, or information visualization to participate in establishing an interdisciplinary Institute for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC). Currently an “initiative,” the IDHMC ( will become an Institute upon approval by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. The IDHMC has been designated one of eight Texas A&M Initial University Multidisciplinary Research Initiatives and thus is the recipient of substantial start-up funding. The IDHMC recently received an award from the Mellon foundation for $734,000 to fund two years of collaborative research into creating better OCR methods and procedures for early modern texts. The rank for this position is open but candidate’s current research record must warrant appointment with tenure on arrival.

Possible research areas for this position include but are not limited to Visualization (including artistic, information, and scientific visualization), Computer Science, Architecture, data-mining, software development, graphic design, pattern recognition, etc. (please see more at our Center for the Study of Digital Libraries). The IDHMC supports interdisciplinary scholarly and creative work that broadly explores the relationship between computing technologies and culture. We are interested in researchers who combine critical thinking with design, creativity, or production in their research and who are willing to shape the emerging direction of this center by galvanizing faculty, graduate students, programmers, and/or digital librarians across a span of colleges in Texas A&M University. A Ph.D., MFA, MLS, or equivalent in achievement is required.

The appointee would have access to IDHMC’s infrastructure and labs, located in a wing of a new building which just opened (January 2013), and would receive substantial startup funding to create a research lab. The successful applicant will have an outstanding research, scholarly, or artistic record in digital humanities, visualization, digital media, digital cultures, and/or social innovation with respect to new media, including substantial experience in interdisciplinary, collaborative research and in obtaining grant funding. The record of achievement must be sufficient for a tenured appointment in the College of Architecture, Engineering, Liberal Arts, or University Libraries. The individual appointed to this position is expected to pursue supplemental funding from external agencies (e.g., NEH, Mellon, ACLS, NEA, NSF, etc.). Classroom teaching is also expected in the successful candidate’s home department.

Texas A&M University already supports a variety of high-profile and emerging projects involving digital humanities ( and offers a Digital Humanities Certificate ( A copy of the whitepaper that established the IDHMC is available (

Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply. Texas A&M is an AA/EEO employer, is deeply committed to diversity, and responds to the needs of dual-career couples. Please send a letter of interest. Applications will be reviewed beginning February 1, 2013, and will be considered until the position is filled. Applicants should send a letter of interest, current CV, and a list of references to:

Professor Laura Mandell
Director, Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture
Department of English
4227 TAMU
College, Station, TX 77843-4227

Call for Project Proposals

Sponsored by the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies

The Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies (  is looking to help facilitate the work of students and scholars by aiding in the development of research-oriented databases related to scholarship in religion and new media.  Proposals are invited for database projects to be housed on the “Researcher’s Toolbox” section of the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies website (   Database projects should be related to focused research studies on an aspect of religion and new media (i.e. the categorization and identification of Hindu cybertemples, a database for analyzing the mission and aims of Jewish websites, etc.) and the database creation component framed as integral part of the data collection and analysis of the given area of research.  Project awardees will receive support for the design and implementation of their chosen database project from the network technical director (of up to 24 hours). Awardees will also receive a small stipend towards travel for a project presentation and consultation at Texas A&M University to be scheduled during the 2013/2014 academic year.

Databases will be embargoed and accessible only to the awarded scholar, network director and technical director for a period of 24 months, after which they will be made open to network members or other subscribers who can apply to gain access to these resources.  Awardees will be able to port their data to an alternate site at the end of the project; however the database and associated data will remain on the network in perpetuity for the life of the site. The hope is also to make these databases collaborative so scholars can add new entries and tags after they are published online.

Applications are invited from any member of the Network, though priority will be given to postdoctoral applicants, full-time faculty, and 2nd year or above PhD candidates.   Proposals should be 2-3 pages in length and include a narrative of the proposed project, detailed specification of desired database, justification of its centrality to the project and a project time line. In addition, a brief CV should also be included.  Preference will be given to projects that investigate under-explored religious contexts online.

The deadline for proposals is 30 October 2012. Complete applications should be sent directly the network director, Heidi Campbell ( Membership to the network is required for proposal submission and the full application process must be completed before proposals will be considered. More information on membership is found at:

IDHMC’s Day of DH 2012

This March 2012, the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture participated in its first Day of DH. We took some lovely pictures of projects, planning, and people, and we’re finally ready to share them.


 The IDHMC lounge is open for meetings, small workshops, events, and is also a place for faculty, graduate students, and staff to have coffee, talk, and read! We always have coffee, tea, and snacks as well as light (or heavy) reading to share.



PhD candidate and IDHMC fellow Matt Davis and IDHMC faculty fellow Dr. Amy Earhart discuss their projects in our IDHMC lounge. In this photo, they are discussing ARC (Advanced Research Consortium).



Every week in the IDHMC, our fellows, professors, and project managers get together to discuss their projects over coffee and tea.





Above Matt and Amy is a TEI Hierarchy Chart created by the fabulous Dr. Laura Mandell, the director of the IDHMC at Texas A&M University, for her bimonthly XSLT workshop – a precursor to her upcoming book on XSLT for the Humanities.




PhD candidate and IDHMC fellow Shawn W. Moore points to the wall of Digital Humanities in his office. Shawn created this physical visualization of his preliminary exam reading list in the Spring, and he is currently expanding it to visualize his dissertation project.



Here is the wonderful Dr. Krista May, Associate Editor of the World Shakespeare Bibliography and an IDHMC fellow, working hard on bibliography entries!




Project Manager Mary Farrington works with our IDHMC undergraduate interns! In this picture, Mary and Carly are working on data input and website maintenance.





Matt Christy, our programmer in the IDHMC, and Mary Farrington discuss the current contract work our Initiative is completing for our outside collaborative projects.




I’ll leave you with an excellent image of one of our project boards from March. The IDHMC is preparing for an exciting 2012-2013, and our contributors, students, staff, and faculty look forward to sharing more in the coming months.


Call for Proposals—IDHMC Faculty Fellowships, Collaboration Grants, and Working Groups

The IDHMC (Institute for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture) wishes to support scholars in a wide range of academic disciplines including literature, history, art and architecture, archaeology, communications, and computer science researchers who are creating new scholarly, poetic, artistic, and musical forms.  We are offering two kinds of fellowships this semester as well as support for working groups and collaborative teams:

  1. Three larger fellowships of $5,000 each for faculty conducting projects: this amount may be spent on special equipment and software to be hosted here at the center.  Our staff will set up a workflow for you and train you to use the equipment and software that you need.  You may propose to do projects without knowing what kinds of equipment/software you will need: you may but are not required to submit an equipment budget with your 5-page, double-spaced project description.  Faculty should feel completely free to write up what they imagine, describing wildly ideal research platforms: we can figure out what can be done to accomplish this work.  We will provide programming and data-entry help as well.
  2. Collaboration grants: Faculty who contact another faculty member in another academic discipline, someone with whom they have not collaborated in the past, in order to work on a project together, each partner will be allotted $500 for equipment and software expenses.  Up to 20 people can receive partner-grants, and collaborative teams may be larger than two people: the only requirement is that the members have not collaborated before and all are from different disciplines.
  3. Those who would like to discuss topics in Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture are welcome to start IDHMC-supported working groups.  While we do not offer money at this time, we can:
    1. Host meetings in the Digital Humanities Lounge, 246 Blocker: please see the calendar for available times at
    2. Provide refreshments for meetings;
    3. Host for your group a drupal commons site that allows sharing documents, blogging, co-authoring, and communication (
    4. If any group would like to start a wordpress blog or drupal site, please contact us.