Archival Expeditions introduces Duke graduate students to teaching with digital and physical primary sources. Each student partners with a Duke faculty sponsor to design an undergraduate course module that incorporates primary source material tailored to a specific class taught by that faculty member. Students have the option of drawing on the physical special collections of the Rubenstein Library or primary source databases and digital collections available at Duke or elsewhere. This program is based on the successful Data Expeditions program.
Graduate students will be expected to spend 70-75 hours during a semester consulting with their faculty sponsor, library staff and other experts and researching, developing and testing the module. The students will work with their faculty sponsor to establish the expectations and parameters for the module prior to applying to the program.
A module can take a variety of shapes and be adjusted to fit different courses, disciplines, and goals of the faculty sponsor. Each module should be designed to allow for roughly 1-2 weeks of time within an existing course or 10-20 student hours. These hours can be a combination of in-class and out-of-class activities. Archival Expeditions drawing on physical special collections must include student time with the original material from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Successful applicants will join a cohort of other Archival Expeditions graduate student instructors. They will participate in a brief boot camp at the beginning of the program and will meet a few times during the semester to share experiences and lessons learned. Students will be compensated $1,500 for their work and have the option of an additional $500 if they help teach the module in a subsequent semester.Students and faculty sponsors will present their modules as part of a showcase and panel discussion at the end of the semester. The course module will also be made available on the Archival Expeditions website under a CC-BY NC Creative Commons license, allowing other faculty and students to learn from and reuse it.
Any Duke graduate student who has completed 1 academic year at Duke may apply.
The lab received support from Humanities Unbounded, a five-year initiative funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.
“We were lucky to have some great graduate students as part of the group convening the lab,” Sussman says. “They made me really enjoy working collaboratively.”
Sussman is the author of Consuming Anxieties: Consumer Protest, Gender, and British Slavery, 1713–1833 and Eighteenth-Century English Literature. Based on her positive experience with the lab, she says she “started looking for different kinds of pedagogies and also opportunities for graduate students.”
Fifteen students have served as Representing Migration fellows, teaching assistants, or graduate lab assistants. Others have taken part in courses and research with faculty.
One of the lab’s projects explored Migration Memorials. Around the same time, over at the Duke Marine Lab, Cindy Van Dover’s lab was studying the impact of seabed mining. “It occurred to them that [mining] grants from the International Seabed Authority were close to the path of the Middle Passage,” Sussman says. Van Dover’s lab became interested in proposing a memorial to victims of the trans-Atlantic voyages that brought enslaved Africans to the New World.
Phillip Turner, a Ph.D. student in Marine Science and Conservation, convened a meeting with a wide range of experts, including Sussman. “They knew about the geography but were curious how the Middle Passage was recorded or memorialized,” she says.
Turner organized a coauthored article on ways to commemorate the enslaved people who came to rest on the Atlantic seabed. In 2018, he received a Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant to attend a meeting of the International Seabed Authority, where he networked and discussed the Middle Passage project. “The project was positively received,” he reported, “and it will hopefully be discussed in more detail at subsequent ISA sessions once the manuscript has been published.”
Sussman had an idea to explore the Middle Passage from a new angle and involve more students through a Data+ summer research project. To help prepare the project, doctoral student Kaylee Alexander (Art, Art History & Visual Studies) worked with Duke Libraries’ Data and Visualization Services as a Humanities Unbounded Graduate Assistant.
“One of the original goals of the project was to use data representing nearly 36,000 transatlantic slave voyages to see if it would be possible to map a reasonable location for a deep-sea memorial to the transatlantic slave trade,” Alexander reflected. “The promises of these data were great; we just had to figure out how to use them.”
Sussman’s Data+ team set out to locate where and why enslaved Africans died during the sea voyage and analyze patterns of these mortality rates.
“It’s been really interesting to fill in the gaps of the Middle Passage and search for patterns,” said Chudi Zhong, a master’s student in Statistical Science. “There is a lot of missing data, and we’ve used current technology to fill gaps. For example, using the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, we can find records on how many enslaved people died. The Climatological Database for the World’s Oceans has other kinds of data for ships. We merged the two databases and found 35 matching voyages. Then we used our own model to make predictions.”
As an undergraduate majoring in Philosophy and Global Cultural Studies, Ethan Czerniecki said the Data+ project “gave me a different way of approaching these topics outside the humanities that proved to be expansive,” he said. “I wouldn’t have thought to treat these individuals as data points, but [the data science approach] opens up new areas like data visualization. Combining a humanities project with data science is really interesting, and the methodologies interact well.”
English Ph.D. student Emma Davenport served as project manager for the Data+ team. “This was my first experience in a real mentorship role,” she said. “It’s different than being part of a team doing the research. Being a mentor calls for a different set of skills and a different orientation.” Davenport is going on the job market this year. “Job committees want to see that you have a set of skills for guiding undergraduate research,” she said, “and both academic and nonacademic jobs are looking for candidates with a well-rounded skillset. I couldn’t have gotten this experience from traditional teaching and research.”
This fall, a Bass Connections project team is continuing the work of the Representing Migration lab and the Data+ project. Doctoral students in English and Romance Studies and undergraduates representing at least six majors are collaborating with faculty and librarians. Some students are creating a map showing where the deaths occurred in the Atlantic; their original data will support a proposal for the Middle Passage memorial.
“I think these opportunities are really great,” says Sussman. “Duke is not a heavy teaching school, at least for English, relative to other Ph.D. programs, but I think what Duke can offer grad students is more unique. This kind of work is useful to them professionally, whether they go into academia or not.”
In addition to the opportunities she has found to engage students in research on migration, Sussman has tapped into other Duke programs as well.
The Archival Expeditions introduces Duke graduate students to teaching with digital and physical primary sources. Each student partners with a Duke faculty sponsor to design an undergraduate course module that incorporates primary source material tailored to a specific class. The Archival Expeditions Fellows spend 70-75 hours during a semester consulting with their faculty sponsor, library staff, and other experts and researching, developing, and testing the module. A module can take a variety of shapes and be adjusted to fit different courses, disciplines, and goals of the faculty sponsor.
This year’s cohort consists of three graduate students.
Kimberley is a third-year graduate student in the English department. Her research interests include Victorian literature and culture, the history of science and mathematics, and novel theory. She will be working with Dr. Charlotte Sussman on “Doctors’ Stories,” an undergraduate course that investigates fiction and theory written about doctors and the discipline of medicine from the eighteenth century to the present day. It explores stories doctors tell about themselves, and the stories that have been told about them. She plans to use historical objects, manuscripts, and advertisements to help students understand how the fictions they’ve encountered in the classroom are supported by the physical instruments and documentation in circulation prior to or at the time of writing.
Jonathan is a second-year graduate student in Religious Studies. His research interests include Scripture, art, and interreligious dialogue. He will be working with Dr. Marc Brettler on the course “The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible,” an introduction to the Hebrew Bible from a non-confessional, historical-critical perspective. His module aims to help students in the course understand the impact of the Hebrew language’s structure and writing system on how the Hebrew Bible has changed over time as a text and a material artifact. One major aim will be for students to engage in transcription exercises based on the practices used by the Dead Sea scribes, the Masoretes, and contemporary Jewish scribes.
Joseph is a fourth-year graduate student in Romance Studies. His research engages with late nineteenth- and twentieth-century literatures of Hispanic America and explores the proliferation of allegory in modernist aesthetics. He will be working with Dr. José María Rodríguez García on the course “Introduction to Spanish Literature II,” a survey of major writers and movements of the Spanish literary tradition in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. He will be drawing materials from digital archives, such as Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (Biblioteca Nacional de España), Biblioteca Digital de Castilla y León, and HathiTrust, as well as holdings from the Rubenstein, Perkins, and Lilly Libraries at Duke. Focusing on pedagogical missions, this module will highlight the challenges of modernization which the government of the Second Spanish Republic addressed in 1931 with the creation of the Board of Pedagogical Missions led by Manuel Bartolomé Cossío.
Applications will be available on the Duke Libraries website in the spring for the fall 2020 cohort.
Are you interested in developing your skills in designing learning experiences for students? Interested in engaging students with digital and physical primary source materials? Consider participating in Archival Expeditions!
Archival Expeditions is a unique opportunity for graduate students to work with a faculty member to design a learning module involving archival materials. The collections can be physical materials in Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library or any variety of digital collections available at Duke or elsewhere. There are numerous possibilities.
Any Duke graduate student who has completed one academic year at Duke and has identified a faculty sponsor for the project
$1,500 for designing the module; an additional $500 will be awarded for teaching the module
Expected Time Commitment
70-75 hours for module development, including consultations with your faculty sponsor
Late summer through December 2019 for developing the module