H-Net Book Review and MSUL Research Opportunties

Today's guest post comes from Bobby Smiley, the Digital Scholarship and American History Librarian at the Michigan State University Libraries. Before joining the MSUL in November 2013, he was a library science and digital humanities graduate student at the Pratt Institute, where he also interned at Columbia working on the NYC Religion web archiving project. Previously, Bobby received his M.A. in Religion from Yale, where he studied with Kathryn Lofton, and researched changing historiographical trends in American Church/religious history using Sydney Ahlstrom’s lecture notes. His current research interests include finding ways to read algorithmically historiographical patterns at scale and over time, intersections between the popular and the religious, and exploring how digital humanities and academic librarianship can be usefully conjoined.

Bobby Smiley

After some time in abeyance, I am excited to announce the revival of the Book Reviews section for the H-Net network, H-AmRel. H-Net (Humanities & Social Sciences Online) is one of the earliest online communities for scholarly discussion, with manifold networks covering areas in the humanities and social sciences. Hosted at Michigan State University’s History Department, H-Net is best known for its numerous disciplinary listservs, as well as posting CFPs, job postings, and books reviews.

The H-AmRel Reviews network has been, to be charitable, pretty moribund in the past decade (last review added in 2004). Since becoming its new editor in April, I’ve been actively soliciting reviewers, and I’m about to post our first review (on Andrew Hartman’s A War for the Soul of America with several more in the hopper. However, I encourage and would welcome more reviewers to participate, especially, graduate students and faculty. If you’re interested in reviewing for H-AmRel Reviews, please send along a CV and writing sample (preferably of review length—1000–1200 words), and I’ll dispatch a list of our current inventory (I’m also happy to consider books not listed), and guidelines for reviews.

I’m incredibly keen on bringing new life to the H-AmRel Reviews, and think this opportunity could afford potential reviewers a chance not only to build up their library, but also to publish digitally in a peer-esteemed open access venue.

In my other capacity, as Digital Scholarship and American History Librarian at Michigan State (where I also work with David Stowe and Amy Derogatis on the religious soundmap project. I’m also excited to announce, as part of the MSU Libraries’s Humanities Data Collection, the release of (for free and public download) our dataset of 19th century American Sunday School Books. Derived from MSUL’s earlier Shaping the Values of Youth digital project, this dataset provides students and scholars interested in large-scale text analysis with a pre-cleaned corpus with which to work. Published between 1809 and 1887, the books in this corpus include 66 volumes from a variety of sectarian publishers. For anyone interested in topic modeling, text analytics, or experimenting with digital humanities techniques and tools, this dataset furnishes a subject relevant corpus readied for immediate analysis.

For H-AmRel book reviewing or questions about MSUL’s Humanities Data Collection, please feel free to contact me at bsmiley at msu.edu


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