Selected Publications

What potential does digital humanities have to shape the practice of theology? Are there theological questions at stake? This essay is exploratory, aspiring to identify points of contact between the digital humanities and theology.
In Cursor_: Zeitschrift für explorative Theologie, 2018

Introduces and exegetes the Data-First Manifesto, which calls for prioritizing data curation over interface design in digital scholarship projects as well as for rethinking how to foster scholarly communication in the performance of digital scholarship.
In Information Services & Use, 2017

The authors provide a brief survey of possible text-mining applications in business school research, the steps and life cycle of text-mining projects, and a text-mining case study from Vanderbilt University Library and the Owen Graduate School of Management.
In Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 2017

Recent & Upcoming Talks

In this talk, I discuss the use of Wikidata in a graduate seminar at Vanderbilt University. During the spring semester of 2018, a colleague and I taught a course titled The Digital Flâneur: Mapping Twentieth-Century Berlin. I explore practical means for incorporating Wikidata into the humanities classroom, indicate areas of difficulty for students (e.g., incomplete or misclassified data, misleading SPARQL queries, and challenges with transforming the data into other formats), and propose possible improvements to the Wikidata query interface to improve its utility in college and university coursework.

What would it mean phenomenologically to depend on machine-retrieval of past experiences rather than on personal recollection? How might changes in the phenomenology of memory affect archival practices and, by extension, reshape our collective memory of the past?

Clifford Anderson will address learning SPARQL through querying Wikidata. What is the best way to learn SPARQL, the query language of the semantic web? Anderson demonstrates how Wikidata—a project to provide information from Wikipedia as structured data—serves as an excellent platform for learning SPARQL. In this session, you’ll learn the the basics of SPARQL and come away with practical techniques for discovering and visualizing structured information in Wikidata.

This workshop introduces participants to Wikidata, an emerging platform for recording, editing, and querying information about any topic.

Continuing a series on the theology of intellectual property, I examine the relevance of ‘geographical indications’ to religious faith.

Drawing on my experience co-teaching a course titled The Digital Flâneur, I explore how technologies in the digital humanities both represent and obscure concrete subjects of inquiry. If computational thinking is, in part, about fostering the appropriate kinds of abstraction, how do digital representations impact the lived realities of the people, places, and things that we study?

How can librarians effectively teach patrons about digital privacy? How does instruction about digital privacy fit within a scholarly communications program?

What is the proper theological response to political exceptionalism? I examine two kinds of exceptionalism, the concentration camp and the nuclear threat, arguing that theologians must oppose both unequivocally.


The Beauty and Joy of Computing

An Introduction to Computational Thinking

  • CS 1000, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, School of Engineering

  • Fall 2018: TR 8:10 am - 9:25 am

  • Clifford Anderson, Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning

Fundamental concepts of computing including abstraction, algorithms, design, and distributed computation. Hands-on curriculum focusing on translating ideas into working computer programs and developing a mastery of practical computational literacy. The relevance and societal impact of computer science are emphasized. Students in the School of Engineering may only receive open elective credit for CS 1000.

Intellectual Constellations

The Digital Flâneur: Mapping Twentieth-Century Berlin

  • GER 8205, German, Russian, and Eastern European Studies

  • Spring 2018: TR 1:10 pm – 2:25 pm

  • Clifford Anderson, Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning and Professor of Religious Studies, and Joy Calico, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Musicology.

This seminar explores the cultural history of Berlin in the twentieth century using theories and tools of the digital humanities. We examine the culture and geopolitics of twentieth-century Berlin from auditory and spatial perspectives, taking Walter Benjamin’s notion of the flâneur as our guide. The flâneur has long been a favorite emblem of urban modernity but it is also ripe for critique, as the freedom to wander a European cityscape at will has never been equally available to all. We engage classic texts about the city (Döblin, Roth, Simmel) and current scholarship on several topics (the Berlin Wall, urban planning, green spaces, migrant experience, queer Berlin, music, sport) to understand multiple ways of being and moving in that city at different moments in the twentieth century. We also work with questions and tools of the digital humanities based on the premise of Todd Presner’s HyperCities, “a collaborative research and educational platform for traveling back in time to explore the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment.” As flâneurs in the world of digital humanities, students will peruse multiple digital tools (such as Atom, CityGML, Cloudant, GitHub, Mapbox, GeoJSON, QGIS, Neo4J and Wikidata) over the course of the semester, examining what they represent and exclude. Students work on projects in time travel, curating tours of Berlin built on historical maps since 1900 featuring still and moving images, audio, historical documents, and prose. As an exercise in digital public humanities, students’ projects will be featured on a public website.

Topics in Digital Humanities

Introduction to Digital Text Editing and Analysis

  • REL 3986 / DIV 3986

  • Spring 2014: M 2:10 pm – 4:00 pm

  • Clifford B. Anderson, Director for Scholarly Communications in the Vanderbilt University Library, and David Michelson, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity and affiliate Assistant Professor of Classics.

The course provides an introduction to the theory and methods of the digital humanities with particular attention to the disciplinary perspectives of history and religious studies. This course is designed for graduate students of history, religion, literature, historical theology or classics who would like to acquire research skills in the techniques of digital text editing and analysis. Students will learn the fundamentals of digital text editing and the computational analysis of digital corpora. Students will engage with theoretical questions concerning the nature of texts and the challenges of representing the past through new media. By the conclusion of the course, students will have crafted a future research plan specific to their for digital editing and/or analysis needs.