2015 Sherman Graduate Fellows

We were pleased to receive an excellent pool of applications this year, indicative of the growth of digital scholarship / digital humanities at McMaster. After thoughtful consideration, we selected the three individuals below to receive the $1500 stipend and workspace in the Centre for the coming academic year. We are eager to start working with them as well as eager to see the contributions that they will make to the growing community of Sherman researchers.

Deena Abul Fottouh – Sociology

Deena photoMy research is on networking and digital activism during the Egyptian revolution that started in 2011. I look at the evolution of Twitter networks among Egyptian activists since the start of the revolution in 2011 till now. The theoretical framework is planted in social movement theory of networking and coalitions and in organizational theory on the importance of the existence of bridge builders to fill “structural holes” in the network. I specifically look at how Twitter networks evolved over time by investigating different moments of solidarity and schism within the Egyptian revolutionary movement. I investigate homophily patterns and whether activists’ tweets cluster based on ideology. I study the role played by certain activists as bridge builders between different ideological clusters. The research methodology is based on network analysis of tweets produced by Egyptian revolutionary activists during the period from 2011 to 2015. Old tweets are purchased from GNIP while recent ones are scraped online using the Twitter streaming API. The software tools used for network analysis are ORA and UCINET. The research is funded by the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Michael Johnson – Religious Studies

michael johnson photo smIn my research I am exploring how one ancient collection of Jewish poetry called the Thanksgiving Hymns fits into the broader landscape of other anthologies of Jewish poetry from the Second Temple period (515 BCE– 70 CE). The Thanksgiving Hymns were recovered among the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran in 1947, and their peculiar rearticulation of language from the biblical Psalms has mystified scholars ever since. For the Sherman Centre fellowship, I am using RStudio to discover corpus-wide patterns of syntax in machine-readable and syntax-tagged texts of the Thanksgiving Hymns in order to compare them with those in the Book of Psalms. Treating syntax-tagging of the corpora as strings, I will uncover reoccurring patterns: those that are shared as well as those that are unique to each corpus. This project will not unlock every mystery of the Thanksgiving Hymns, but it will enable us to assess one of the ways the Hodayot psalmist mimics and modifies the poetics of the Psalter.

Melissa Marie Legge – Social Work

legge photo - thumbnailMy academic interest and research centre on the well-being of humans and other animals in shared social environments. The broader aim of my doctoral research is to increase positive outcomes for both humans and other-than-human (OTH) animals involved in social services, by documenting how animals are integrated into and neglected by social work practice in Ontario. Using critical, posthumanist, and queer theories as my framework for this investigation, I will attempt to investigate and represent multiple subjective social realities, including the realities experienced by OTH animals. My goal is to partially document the experiences of OTH animals involved in AAI with the hopes of gaining greater understanding of how they are impacted by their involvement in these interventions. My project with the Sherman Centre involves three pieces of this larger research program. I intend to use this opportunity to begin to explore innovative ways of collecting data with OTH animals, through engagement with wearable digital photo and video technology as well as sensory technology for the collection of veterinary analytics.

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