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Digital Humanities: Melville’s Marginalia

**This VIP is on hiatus for Fall 2024**

What is the ambitious goal of Melville’s Marginalia?

Students from technical and non-technical fields combine their knowledge as they work together to develop and apply technical tools to do research on the reading and writing of one of American literature’s greatest authors.

This team uses computer-assisted means of analyzing the reading of American author Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick and other writings, and edits the markings and notes inscribed by him into books that survive from his personal library.

Experience Gained

Depending on major and preparation, participants may acquire skills in editing and transcription of literary texts; coding abilities in R, C#, and other languages; encoding abilities in Extensible Markup Language (XML); literary data analysis and visualization; analytical and interpretive methods; reading and writing skills and humanities marketing and promotion.

Students of VIP team Digital Humanities

Methodologies and/or Technologies used to achieve project goals:

  • coding and coding software
  • mobile tech development
  • qualitative research methods
  • quantitative research methods

Majors and Interests Needed

Preferred course preparation: 200 level and above

  • Any/All
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • English
  • Marketing
  • Philosophy
  • Literary Studies

VIP Coach Information

Dr. Steven Olsen-Smith is a Professor in the Department of English and Director, Melville’s Marginalia Online, specializing in early and 19th-century American literature, with active research agendas on Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Stephen Crane. Contact Dr. Olsen-Smith at

Dr. Elisa H. Barney Smith is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and holds an endowed chair at Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program, Luleå Technical University, Sweden. Her research focuses on image processing and machine learning.

Course Information

This is a full semester course.
Choose to enroll in 1 or 2 credits in VIP 200 (freshman, sophomore), VIP 400 (junior, senior), or VIP 500 (graduate).
Team meetings TBD by participants.

Interested in joining this team?

For more information about this project and to request a permission number to register, contact Dr. Steven Olsen-Smith at or complete this interest form and we will contact you.
Check out this page for tips on contacting a professor.

To register, search by Subject: Vertically Integrated Projects, read the project description to find the right section of VIP 200, 400, or 500.

To use permission number, follow these instructions Add with a permission number

Hear from students of the Digital Humanities: Melville's Marginalia Team

Sophomore student Keoni Hayward answers the question, ‘What made you curious today?’

Video contains closed captions. For a descriptive transcript, please access Video Transcript – Keoni Hayward

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