In 1763 armed settlers in the Paxton Township laid waste to an isolated, unarmed Indian settlement, murdering all its inhabitants, attacked the Lancaster jailhouse where refugees had taken shelter, and vowed to march all the way to Philadelphia. After being stopped in Germantown by a delegation led by Benjamin Franklin, critics and apologists of the “Paxton Boys” –including some of Pennsylvania’s preeminent figures- spent the next year battling in print over the events, and ultimately, over the authority of the colonial government.
The Paxton pamphlet war comprised more than one-fifth of the Pennsylvania colony’s total printed material in 1764. In 1957, historian John Raine Dunbar was the first to create a critical edition of the pamphlet war, The Paxton Papers. But Dunbar’s Papers now suffer from three limitations, according to the creators of a new digital edition: it’s dated, limited in scope, and not easily accessible. The Digital Paxton Project (digitalpaxton.org), a digital archive and critical edition of the pamphlet war composed in Scalar by Library Company Fellow Will Fenton, Doctoral Candidate at Fordham University, and Co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, seeks to move past these limitations.
As a critical archive built in Scalar, Digital Paxton effectively pairs particular forms of scholarly contributions to particular affordances offered by the platform, including contextual entries (via tags), conceptual keyword essays (via paths), and transcriptions and translations of pamphlets (via image annotations). Digital Paxton makes available dozens of political cartoons, manuscripts, broadsides, pamphlets, and German-language translations of pamphlets related to the Paxton incident. Digital Paxton features more than 1600 free, open-source, print-quality (300 dpi) images courtesy of the American Philosophical Society, Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Moravian Archives of Bethlehem. It also makes available contributions from a number of specialists: Jack Brubaker, Nicole Eustace (NYU), Michael Goode (Utah Valley University), Scott Paul Gordon (Lehigh University), Kevin Kenny (Boston College), Darvin L. Martin, James P. Myers, Jr. (Gettysburg College), and Judith Ridner (Mississippi State University).
A portion of Digital Paxton’s online archive can also be explored in person. If you’re in the Philadelphia area you can stop by Will Fenton’s pop-up exhibition at the Library Company of Philadelphia running from April 5th to May 5th, 2017. The exhibition will showcase more than two-dozen exemplary manuscripts, broadsides, pamphlets, and political cartoons from the Library Company, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, American Philosophical Society, and Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections. You can also access the digital companion to the pop-up exhibition at digitalpaxton.org/exhibition.
Five-day Scalar workshop at HILT
This year’s Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching (HILT) program is now open for registration and features an in-depth, 5-day course on Scalar. HILT is an annual training institute that includes comprehensive courses on Digital Humanities topics, methods, and platforms as well as keynotes, ignite talks, and local cultural heritage excursions. This year HILT will be held from June 5–9 at the very lovely University of Texas at Austin.
The HILT Scalar course, taught by our own Curtis Fletcher, is structured as a 5-day workshop for those who already have a Scalar project in mind and seek comprehensive training in the platform and in-depth support with editorial, technical and design decisions. The workshop will include basic, intermediate and advanced training sessions in Scalar, discussions of readings on multimodal scholarship, and both collaborative white-boarding sessions and one-on-one design meetings devoted to each project. The aim of the workshop is to help participants think through the conceptual, structural and technical aspects of their projects as well as the project’s relation to the emergent field of digital media and scholarship overall.
Leadership in the Ancient World
Sunoikisis is a national consortium of Classics programs established in 1999 and formed to foster new collaborative and interdisciplinary paradigms of learning in the liberal arts for the 21st century. One of their current projects, Beyond the Boundaries of Fantasia: An ancient imagining of the future of leadership, is a course on leadership in the ancient world developed in Scalar.
Using the Scalar project as their central text, the course was taught concurrently at seven separate institutions: Howard University, Brandeis University, Tulane University, University of Texas-San Antonio, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Emory University, and the University of Findlay. Weekly sessions on Google Hangouts brought students from all institutions together. They were also free to the public.
The aim of the course is to highlight and learn from modes of leadership in the ancient world by drawing on writing, philosophy, material culture, and historical documents from the period. The course contains fifteen separate modules, each with a broad introduction to its topic; ancient readings and images accompanied by guiding questions and expert commentary; seven hours of independent study activity; suggested group activities; ‘deeper cuts’ into ancient readings and contemporary scholarship; as well as reflection prompts designed to bridge the study of ancient leadership with one’s experience of leadership today.
The syllabus itself resulted from months of collaboration among Classicists from over a dozen institutions, but led by Joel Christensen (Brandeis University), John Esposito (UNC-Chapel Hill), Mallory Monaco Caterine (Tulane University), and Norman Sandridge (Howard University).