This Year


It’s been a year.

I find myself saying that a lot lately, for reasons that you can probably imagine. Much about the last year has been disheartening, infuriating, anxiety-producing.

But a few good things stand out, and one of them has been the extraordinary first year of Humanities Commons. Continue reading “This Year”

HC User Spotlight: The American Literature Anthology Project

Humanities Commons members are building wonderful and creative sites and blogs on our platform. We want to highlight your work, so over the next few months, I will be writing blog posts and conducting interviews to put a spotlight on individual users. We hope that these posts not only serve to celebrate HC members’ creations, but that they also work to provide members with a better understanding of the various possibilities that Humanities Commons offers. Above all, we hope these posts inspire you!

Before I dive into our first featured HC site, let me introduce myself. My name is Caitlin Duffy and I am a doctoral student in the English department at Stony Brook University. Last summer, I was fortunate enough to work as an intern with the Humanities Commons team (I definitely recommend interning with the MLA if you get the chance). As part of my continued connection with Humanities Commons, doing some freelance community engagement, I am writing some posts for this team blog.

For my first post, it seems only right to feature a site built by one of my professors. This semester I was fortunate enough to work as a TA with Dr. Andrew Newman for his American Literature I survey course for English majors. Rather than assigning an expensive anthology or multiple texts, Newman instead created an open access digital anthology, titled the “American Literature Anthology Project.” According to the description found on its home page, “This site presents a ground-up, dynamic, open-access anthology of American literature before 1900, developed by faculty and students in the English department at Stony Brook University. At present, it comprises most of the primary source texts for three Spring 2018 courses.”

Through this site, Newman has been able to design an entirely open access syllabus and has been able to share his anthology with other professors in his department. Additionally, by requiring the use of a group, which allows users to annotate any web document privately, publicly, or to an assigned group, students in his class take control of their own learning by helping to create their own annotated edition of the anthology. While most of these are available only to members of the class, you can see some of the student-produced annotations through the “Public” layer of

I hope that this blog post and Newman’s work encourages other members to use sites in new and interesting ways, including as a teaching tool. In order to provide a deeper understanding of his project, Andrew Newman answered a few of my questions.


1.Why did you choose Humanity Commons to house your project?

Since the anthology is composed of texts imported from Open access archives, especially Project Gutenberg, I didn’t want to house it on a platform that is in any way proprietary. Hosting it there was also a way to point towards the longer-term vision of the project as a collaborative resource, and it provided an occasion to introduce students to the principles of OA and commons.

2. How has your digital anthology impacted your teaching? Has it changed the dynamic of your classroom in any way?

In a mid-semester, students overwhelmingly indicated that they preferred the digital anthology to a paper one. I know that cost-savings is part of this preference, though I’m not sure how much. I think efficiency is also a factor – it’s frustrating to purchase and carry around a huge anthology like Volumes A & B of the Norton Anthology of American Literature and only read a small fraction of it. I think even the etext versions of these anthologies create a sense of superfluity. So as an instructor, I like the flexibility to create a table of contents that matches my course exactly, and I think the students like that too. Then, collaborative annotation using hypo.thesis affords a sense of being in the text together. At its best, we’ve been able to do live annotation in the classroom, sometimes using a projection screen. Sometimes a question comes up, such as a historical reference, and we find that one of the participants has already supplied an annotation. But working with etexts in the classroom also has much-noted disadvantages, so I still want to learn to optimize their affordances and minimize the tendency towards distraction.

3. Do you have any plans to add to your project? If so, can you describe them?

I specialize in a field where all the primary sources are out of copyright and most are available as etexts. I expect to keep building and create new TOCs for every course 8 teach in American literature before 1900, and I hope Americanist colleagues and our counterparts in British lit will do the same. I also plan to develop literary-historical timelines using the TimeLineJS tool.

4. Would you recommend Humanities Commons to other scholars and educators? Why or why not?

Of course! So many recent developments locally (on my campus, anyway) and nationally are really demoralizing for humanities scholars. We need to share a collective bright spot.

5. Has your use of Humanities Commons (overall, not just with the anthology) surprised you in any way? Were there features or results you weren’t expecting?

I’m pleased to have my Humanities Commons profile supersede my department webpage as my virtual intellectual home. I like the ability to create WordPress sites. I just finished a book, so I’m looking forward to building, exploring and connecting more this summer and in coming academic year.

6. What is your project’s ideal future? Do you hope others will use it? If so, how?

Ideally, other HC users around world will join in and create TOCs for their courses.

7. Do you have any advice for other educators who are considering building an anthology on Humanities Commons?

I think it would be great to collaborate from the get-go: plan with a colleague on another campus and have a virtual anthology become a shared space where two or more interpretive communities convene.


Andrew Newman’s “American Literature Anthology Project” can be found at

You can contact Andrew Newman by emailing him at

If you’re interested in learning more about building sites on Humanities Commons, please visit our Site Guide.


Humanities Commons Summer Camp is here!

several colorful cloth umbrellas

This week, our free virtual summer camp kicked off with its first challenge: profiles.

Led by “head counselor” Caitlin Duffy, this program will suggest a challenge every two weeks to encourage participants to explore the Commons and develop their online identity:

HC Summer Camp will give you deadlines and guidance to help you achieve your ideal digital presence.

“Campers” will be encouraged to complete a challenge every other week. For example, our first challenge will be focused on the Humanities Commons profile page. To complete Challenge #1, campers will either create a Humanities Commons profile or improve and update their pre-existing HC profile. Please see the bottom of this post to see our schedule and challenges.

Read more on the HC Summer Camp site, and join the group, where lively discussion is already underway!

May’s Most Downloaded

numerous spools of thread arranged in color order

This month’s top downloads in CORE!

  1. Oscar Martinez-Peñate, El Salvador Sociología General. Book. Downloaded 321 times in May 2018.
  2. Ayesha Majid, “Marketing Strategy of Lenovo Laptops.” Report. Downloaded 290 times in May 2018.
  3. José Angel García Landa, “Aristotle’s Poetics.” Article. Downloaded 250 times in May 2018.
  4. Edith Hall, The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey. Book. Downloaded 200 times in April 2018.
  5. Titus Stahl, “What is Immanent Critique?” Article. Downloaded 193 times in May 2018.

Top CORE Deposits in April 2018

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1. José Angel García Landa, “Aristotle’s Poetics.” Article. Downloaded 715 times in April 2018.

2. Ayesha Majid, “Marketing Strategy of Lenovo Laptops.” Report. Downloaded 389 times in April 2018.

3. Oscar Martinez-Peñate, El Salvador Sociología General. Book. Downloaded 319 times in April 2018.

4. Edith Hall, The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey. Book. Downloaded 260 times in April 2018.

5. Joshua Abah, Benjamin Ogbole Abakpa, Abel Okoh Agbo-Egwu, “Emphasizing Phenomenology as a Research Paradigm for Interpreting Growth and Development in Mathematics Education.” Article. Downloaded 151 times in April 2018.

6. Titus Stahl, “What is Immanent Critique?” Article. Downloaded 140 times in April 2018.

7. Geraldine Heng, “The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages I: Race Studies, Modernity, and the Middle Ages.” Article. Downloaded 131 times in April 2018.

8. Krzysztof Fordonski, “The Art of Translation and the Art of Editing.” Article. Downloaded 125 times in April 2018.

9. Tim Sherratt, “Hacking heritage: understanding the limits of online access.” Book chapter. Downloaded 122 times in April 2018.

10. Luís Henriques, Livros de Coro da Igreja Matriz de Santa Cruz Praia da Vitória: Inventário Preliminar. Catalog. Downloaded 118 times in April 2018.

10. Nicky Agate, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Christopher P. Long, Jason Rhody, Simone Sacchi, Humanities Values Infographic. Image. Downloaded 118 times in April 2018.

Top CORE Deposits in March 2018

1. Ayesha Majid, “Marketing Strategy of Lenovo Laptops.” Report. Downloaded 419 times in March 2018.

2. José Angel García Landa, “Aristotle’s Poetics.” Article. Downloaded 289 times in March 2018.

3. Nicky Agate, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Christopher P. Long, Jason Rhody, Simone Sacchi, Humanities Values Infographic. Image. Downloaded 235 times in March 2018.

4. Tama Leaver, Cameron Neylon, Alkim Ozaygen, Lucy Montgomery, “Getting the Best Out of Data for Small Monograph Presses: A Case Study of UCL Press.” Article. Downloaded 145 times in March 2018.

5. Jim McGrath, Alicia Peaker, “Our Marathon: The Role of Graduate Student and Library Labor in Making the Boston Bombing Digital Archive.” Book chapter. Downloaded 122 times in March 2018.

Implementing Global Search & Personalized Suggestions for the Commons

a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces

Humanities Commons is powered by WordPress, and its social features like groups and member profiles depend on BuddyPress. Because of the way groups and members are stored in the database, there was no easy way for users to search all the content on the site in a single interface. Earlier this year we implemented a solution to this problem: ElasticPress-BuddyPress. Continue reading “Implementing Global Search & Personalized Suggestions for the Commons”

Doing What You Can

Endangered Data Week logo

It’s only been a year? It seems like two—yet there is one moment since the launch of Humanities Commons that stands out in my memory as particularly rewarding. Like many, I’ve grown increasingly concerned about access to data. I followed the Data Refuge events last spring. I participated in the March for Science in Princeton (since the crowd was about 4000:1 pro-science, it wasn’t exactly a challenge). We on the Humanities Commons team were of course aware of the proposed plans to shutdown the NEH and NEA, so when Kathleen Fitzpatrick suggested we mark Endangered Data Week by archiving all the white papers that have originated from grants issued by the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities, I was immediately intrigued. Continue reading “Doing What You Can”

Afterimages: Hosting an Online Exhibition on the Commons


Not long ago my colleague, Catherine Burdick, and I launched Afterimages, an online exhibition about the political graffiti that often stretches across the most prominent wall of Chile’s most iconic church. Selecting Humanities Commons as the project’s digital home was the first major conversation of our collaboration, and it remains one of the core decisions we have never reconsidered in the months of experimenting since. Continue reading “Afterimages: Hosting an Online Exhibition on the Commons”

Sharing All the Scholarly Things


When I started my first non-academic job, I asked myself, “What am I going to do with my dissertation?” It seemed such a waste that I’d put so much time and effort into original research, only to have it languish behind the locked doors of my alma mater (finding the time to turn it into a monograph wasn’t going to be an option). And as I’ve continued to work outside the academy, and the focus of my research has shifted from 19th-century French literature to scholarly communication, the kind of outputs I create have shifted too, towards what is often deemed “grey” literature: white papers, blog posts, reports. Humanities Commons allows me to express that shift with a holistic profile that represents not two (or more) discrete periods in my life, but a continuum of evolving humanities expertise. Continue reading “Sharing All the Scholarly Things”