The Columns

W&L's Sprenkle Named Digital Humanities Scholar of the Month

— by on May 8th, 2013

Sara Sprenkle, assistant professor of computer science at Washington and Lee University, was recently named W&L’s inaugural “Digital Humanities Scholar of the Month” for her work on several collaborative projects on campus.

Sprenkle has special interests in using her expertise in computer science to work on projects in the humanities, according to Paul Youngman, associate professor of German and member of the “Digital Humanities Working Group,” which explores new ways to use technology in the University’s humanities disciplines.

“Although I was a math and computer science major, I loved my classes in humanities and these projects are a great opportunity to see what you can do with a humanities subject and computer science,” said Sprenkle. “These are cool projects my students enjoy working on and the humanities professors get so excited about them so it’s really fun.”

Her work with Paul Gregory, associate professor of philosophy at W&L, began five years ago and is an ongoing project. She created a translation tutorial web app to help his students practice their symbolic logic skills as well as assist with grading by automatically correcting symbolic logic quizzes.

“Sara’s work has been extremely valuable to me and to my Introduction to Logic students,” said Gregory. “It gives them a great way to practice outside of the classroom and is an excellent platform for administering quizzes and exams.”

The 14 students in Sprenkle’s 2013 spring term course on web applications are currently working on two other digital humanities projects, both concerned with finding new ways to search collections of ancient inscriptions.

The first is with Rebecca Benefiel, associate professor of classics at W&L, and creates a new interface to look at graffiti in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The second is with Sarah Bond, a former Mellon Junior Faculty Fellow in Ancient History at W&L and now on the faculty at Marquette University. That project is designed to find trends in epigraphy—writing on stones—across ancient Rome to learn more about the people inhabiting the lower orders within the diverse communities of the Roman Empire.

“Digital Humanities Scholar of the Month is just one more way to raise the profile of digital humanities at Washington and Lee'” said Youngman.

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