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Technology Reveals Historical Patterns at Annual Duquesne History Forum

History, when examined through a digital lens, can reveal previously unseen patterns. Guest lecturer Dr. Robert K. Nelson will share how the use of technology can produce a digital atlas of American history at Duquesne University's annual History Forum lecture at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the Power Center Ballroom.

Nelson's lecture, Without the Paraphernalia of Projector, Reel and Screen: Maps and the Practice and Presentation of History in the 21st Century, will be preceded by a welcome reception at 5 p.m.

Recently awarded a three-year grant to develop a visual representation of U.S. history, Nelson will be able to produce maps which illustrate themes such as immigration, slavery and economics in more detail and nuance than previously possible. His data-rich maps will allow scholars and students to study change over time in way that allows them to make connections and gain new insights.

"Basically, we'll be considering how these new ways of visually representing U.S. history not only clarify, but cause us to fundamentally rethink some of our central historical understandings," said Dr. Elaine Parsons, associate professor of history.

Nelson, current director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond,   has directed and developed a number of digital humanities projects, including Mining the Dispatch, Redlining Richmond and the History Engine. In addition to his collaborative grant project, Nelson is working on a text-mining technique to analyze nationalism in Civil War newspapers.  Also called topic modeling, this technique will be used to uncover themes and reveal historical patterns in massive amounts of text. 

Duquesne's Department of History's annual forum has provided a venue for scholars to address topics of civic and academic interest for more than four decades. Attendance satisfies Act 48 credit requirements.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the history forum webpage or call 412.396.6470.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.