MESA launches!

The Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC) and Advanced Research Consortium (ARC) at Texas A&M University are very excited to announce the launch of the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (MESA).

MESA, a federated community of scholars, projects, institutions, and organizations, is engaged in digital scholarship within the field of medieval studies. MESA seeks to provide a community for those engaged in digital medieval studies and to meet emerging needs of this community, including making recommendations on technological and scholarly standards to electronic scholarship, the aggregation of data, and the ability to discover and repurpose this data.

MESA can be found online at, and like her sister sites, NINES and 18thConnect, users may use the Advanced Search and browse aggregated objects from 17 participating archives, or create an account, add tags, start a discussion or group, or begin an exhibit using the Collex exhibit builder technology.

The ARC and IDHMC teams are happy to see MESA come to fruition, as we hosted the first MESA planning meeting here at TAMU, and we’ve followed the success of MESA’s funding requests closely. ARC welcomes her newest sister node to our research community, and congratulates them on their successful launch, with dozens of user accounts created since MESA went live yesterday.

The ARC office at TAMU will now be looking towards the future, focusing our efforts on sustainability and software development, as well as data hosting and aggregation, and we will be seeking a post-doctoral fellow (ad coming soon) and graduate research assistant to assist in these tasks. We will also be looking towards the launch of two new nodes, the Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn) and Modernist Networks (ModNets). More on REKn can be found here, and a launch date is soon to be announced. Modernist Networks has received an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant to support a workshop in the fall for “the development of a standardized metadata schema and vocabulary” for “digital projects in modernist studies.”

Make sure to head over to MESA, and click “Create an Account” soon! Account creation is quick and painless, and then users can begin discovering, repurposing, and interacting with multiple medieval projects in a single research environment. Where else could I search for Austrian royalty, examine results from four different archives, and wind up researching digital objects related to the Order of the Golden Fleece? I wish you all similar successful and fun discoveries!


ARC Data Moves to TAMU!

On Friday, June 28,  ARC (Advanced Research Consortium) Project Manager Liz Grumbach will be live tweeting the server move of ARC data from cloud storage to TAMU’s Academy for Advanced Telecommunications and Learning Technologies (   This will mark the first time that ARC’s extensive catalog of humanities data has found a home on University server space,  and it is an important step towards full implementation of ARC at TAMU.  You can follow Liz at @emgrumbach #arc_tamu.



eMOP Project Receives Funding from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

English Professor Laura Mandell, Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC), along with two co-PIs Professor Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna and Professor Richard Furuta, are very pleased to announce that Texas A&M has received a 2-year, $734,000 development grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Early Modern OCR Project (eMOP, ).  The two other project leaders, Anton DuPlessis and Todd Samuelson, are book historians from Cushing Rare Books Library.

Over the next two years, eMOP will work to improve scholarly access to an extensive early modern text corpus. The overarching goal of eMOP is to develop new methods and tools to improve the digitization, transcription, and preservation of early modern texts.

The peculiarities of early printing technology make it difficult for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to discern discrete characters and, thus, to render readable digital output.  By creating a database of early modern fonts, training the software that mechanically types page images (OCR) to read those typefaces, and creating crowd-sourced correction tools, eMOP promises to improve the quality of digital surrogates for early modern texts. Receiving this grant makes possible improving the machine-translation of digital page images with cutting-edge crowd-sourcing and OCR technologies, both guided by book history.  Our goal is to further the digital preservation processes currently taking place in institutions, libraries, and museums globally.

The IDHMC, along with our participating institutions and individuals, will aggregate and re-tool many of the recent innovations in OCR in order to provide a stable community and expanded canon for future scholarly pursuits. Thanks to the efforts of the Advanced Research Consortium (ARC) and its digital hubs, NINES, 18thConnect, ModNets, REKn and MESA, eMOP has received permissions to work with over 300,000 documents from Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO), totaling 45 million page images of documents published before 1800.

The IDHMC is committed to the improvement and growth of digital projects and resources, and the Mellon Foundation’s grant to Texas A&M for the support of eMOP will enable us to fulfill our promise to the scholarly community to educate, preserve, and develop the future of humanities scholarship.


For further information, please see the eMOP website:


For more information on our project partners, please see the following links.

ECCO at Gale-Cengage Learning
EEBO at ProQuest
Performant Software
Professor Raghavan Manmatha at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
The IMPACT project at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek – National Library of the Netherlands
PRImA at the University of Salford Manchester
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University
The Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture, Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
The OCR Summit Meeting Participants


For more ARC and IDHMC news, please see the following links.

Texas A&M to House Digital Literary Consortium
MESA to Receive Funding
REKn to Partner with ARC

MESA to Receive Funding

The IDHMC is pleased to announce that MESA (the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance) has received a three-year, $150,000 Implementation Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

MESA is part of ARC (Advanced Research Consortium) and is partnered with NINES (Nineteenth-Century Scholarship Online), 18thConnect, and REKn (the Renaissance English Knowledgebase).

Founded by Tim Stinson (Professor of English at North Carolina State University) and Dot Porter (Associate Director for Digital Library Content and Services at Indiana University), MESA intends to launch a new site that will allow streamlined research and ease of access to medieval scholarship and resources for students and professional readers. The project also proposes a deft solution to intellectual property rights issues and university/library ownership of scanned images through a consolidated search for the web portal. The site is scheduled to launch at the end of this year, and it is the IDHMC’s great pleasure to announce that it will participate in continued development of this project. MESA and the IDHMC are committed to the improvement and growth of digital research projects and resources.

MESA will continue project development at North Carolina State University and will collaborate with scholars and staff at Texas A&M University and the University of Virginia.


For more information, please see the following links.

Shipman, Matt. “Creating an Online Portal into The Medieval World.” The Abstract. 2012.
MESA-ARC Meeting
Texas A&M to House Digital Literary Consortium
REKn to Partner with ARC

REKn to Partner with ARC

It is the IDHMC’s great pleasure to announce that the Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn) project will become the next node within ARC (Advanced Research Consortium), joining NINES (Nineteeth-century Scholarship Online), 18thConnect, and MESA (the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance).

REKn, an electronic research database that contains a large quantity of both primary and secondary materials related to the Renaissance period, is a dynamic, emerging resource for professional readers and scholars. The project, initiated in 2003-4, was developed at Vancouver Island University’s Centre for Digital Humanities Innovation and at the University of Victoria’s Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) under the direction of Ray Siemens, Distinguished Professor in University of Victoria’s Faculty of Humanities, and in the Departments of English and Computer Science. The project ultimately established an interface (currently at proof-of-concept stage) for professional reading across large data sets. REKn’s Professional Reading Environment (PReE) facilitates access to and advanced searching of the knowledgebase. The REKn project and PReE are archetypal of database research and development projects that enable digital scholarly activities, and the IDHMC is pleased to announce that it will participate in continued work on the knowledgebase.

REKn’s new partnerships within ARC will continue project development at ETCL, Northwestern University, University of Virginia, Texas A&M University, and beyond, with support from the University of Victoria via CFI infrastructure, the Canada Research Chairs program, and, via ARC and its partners.


For more information about ARC, NINES, MESA, 18thConnect, and REKn, please see the following:

REKn Joins World-Leading NINES Initiative, ARC
Electronic Cultural Studies Lab at UVic
MESA-ARC Meeting
Texas A&M to House Digital Literary Research Consortium
“Underpinnings of the Social Edition? A Narrative, 2004-9, for the Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn) and Professional Reading Environment (PReE) Projects.” Ray Siemens, Mike Elkink, Alastair McColl, Karin Armstrong, James Dixon, Angelsea Saby, Brett D. Hirsh and Cara Leitch, with Martin Holmes, Eric Haswell, Chris Gaudet, Paul Girn, Michael Joyce, Rachel Gold, and Gerry Watson, and members of the PKP, Iter, TAPoR, and INKE teams. In Jerome McGann, ed., with Andrew Stauffer, Dana Wheeles, and Michael Pickard. Online Humanities Scholarship: The Shape of Things to Come. Houston: Rice UP, 2010. 50 plus 461 pp (plus files).

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.