Robert NelsonTuesday, October 4, 12:30-1:45PM
MITH Conference Room, McKeldin Library B0135

“Hardtack and Software: Topic Modeling in Civil War Newspapers” by ROBERT K. NELSON

During the Civil War, newspaper editors in the Union and Confederacy were called upon to help motivate their male readers to die and to kill for their respective countries.  This presentation will present some preliminary research that uses topic modeling to analyze how and when these editors used patriotism and nationalism to convince men to engage in the terrible work of death.  This presentation will also reflect upon some methodological challenges raised by topic modeling and other text-mining techniques, particularly the desirability of toggling between distant and close readings to combine the power of algorithmically generated visualizations with the subtlety of traditional humanistic research methods.

This talk will be held in the MITH Conference Room, in the basement of McKeldin Library.

Robert K. Nelson is the Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond.  He has directed a number of digital humanities projects including “Mining the Dispatch,” “Redlining Richmond,” and the History Engine.  He holds a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary.  His work on nineteenth-century cultural and literary history has appeared in the Journal of Social History and American Literature.

Coming up @MITH 10/11: Fred Gibbs (Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University), “Criticism in the Digital Humanities”

A continuously updated schedule of talks is also available on the Digital Dialogues webpage.

Unable to attend the events in person? Archived podcasts can be found on the MITH website, and you can follow our Digital Dialogues Twitter account @digdialog as well as the Twitter hashtag #mithdd to keep up with live tweets from our sessions.

All talks free and open to the public! Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunches.

Contact: Emma Millon, Community Lead, MITH (,, 5-9887).