Past Lectures

Scraps and Scrapbooking in the Time of the Database

StFX DHC Lecture 2023

Speaker: Bridget Moynihan
Date: October 26, 2023

Lev Manovich has argued for the database as the “key form of cultural expression” in the computer age (“Database” 40), stating elsewhere that if “the world appears to us as an endless and unstructured collection of images, texts, and other data records, it is only appropriate that we will be moved to model it as a database” (Language 219). However, humans have faced endless and unstructured collections of records for much longer than the computer has existed and we have been moved to model it in a plethora of ways. Movable bits of information, whether circulating as clippings, scraps, extracts, or copies, have been saved and gathered in scrapbooks, albums, portfolios, miscellanies, quilts, and cabinets of curiosities, to name only a few. While databases can risk separating the form from content for the records that they collect, much scrappy ephemera derives its value (and its risk) from a merging of form with content in its methods of record collection. As this talk will demonstrate, delving into scraps from the vantage point of our database time allows a renewed examination of the historical, narrative, and aesthetic value of these scraps, while also asking what databases and their related outputs can learn from scraps. 

Bridget is a postdoctoral fellow cross appointed with INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments, and Library and Archives Canada – Bibliothèque et Archives Canada ( She holds a PhD in English from the University of Edinburgh, where she studied archived scrapbooks, which she approached through both close critical reading and research through design digital processes. She also holds an MLIS from Western University. Bridget’s publications have appeared in journals such as Digital Humanities Quarterly, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, and Digital Studies/Le champ numérique.



From Big Data to Dirt Research: Automated and Participatory Maps of Atlantic Canada's Rural Energy Transitions


Joshua MacFadyen
Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Geospatial Humanities
Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, Applied Communication Leadership & Culture Program
University of Prince Edward Island

Date: April 18, 2023

The Atlantic region has deep ties to the primary sector and to what economist E. A. Wrigley called the “solar regime” of energy history. From Acadian marshland agriculture to the fishing, forestry, and upland resettlement of the British period, most economic activity harvested the biomass that plants and animals converted using solar energy. But for a region that is so dependent on these traditional energy flows, we know relatively little about the transition to industrial agriculture and external energy flows in the twentieth century. This paper presents some of the new research on agriculture conducted at the GeoREACH Lab at UPEI, which supports Geospatial Research in Atlantic Canadian History. Using the lab’s historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS), including both QGIS and ArcGIS Pro software as well as historical data development, students have helped to digitize a number of maps and datasets that enhance this research with a focus on Prince Edward Island between 1935 and the present. The approaches range from automated polygon recognition on historical maps, to archival research, oral interviews, and an online participatory mapping project called “The Back 50 Project: Mapping Rural Land Use Change in PEI.”

Josh is an Associate Professor and a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Geospatial Humanities at the University of Prince Edward Island. His research focuses on energy transitions and traditional energy carriers in Canada, and he leads the GeoREACH lab at UPEI which supports Geospatial Research in Atlantic Canadian History. His most recent monograph, Flax Americana: A History of the Fibre and Oil that Covered a Continent, was published in 2018 by McGill-Queens University Press, and he is co-editor of the Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History.



Vanished Voices? Virtual Resources, Language Revitalization, and Nova Scotia Gaelic

Vanished Voices Lecture Poster

Speakers: Heather Sparling (CBU) & Susan Cameron (StFX)
Date: Fall 2022


Digital Humanities

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