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Home » News » Doctoral Student Sheila Scoville Attends Research Programs at Newberry Library and Dumbarton Oaks

Doctoral Student Sheila Scoville Attends Research Programs at Newberry Library and Dumbarton Oaks

Published April 28, 2022

Doctoral student Sheila Scoville has been accepted into the 2022 Plant Humanities Summer Program at Dumbarton Oaks. Now in its fourth year, this initiative is a collaboration of the Dumbarton Oaks Plant Humanities Initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with Oak Spring Garden Foundation and the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. This summer’s program will be held in a hybrid format from June 27 to August 12, 2002, and Sheila will join a cohort of 10 advanced undergraduates and graduate students. The aims of this endeavor are to support the emerging field of Plant Humanities and facilitate skill-building for early-career humanists through the interdisciplinary study of plants. Participants will learn about the cultural histories of plants through seminars and guest lectures and conduct research in online repositories and the Dumbarton Oaks rare book collection. From July 3 to July 23, 2022, the program will be held in-person in Washington, DC, with site visits to the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Virginia and the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Digital training will include workshops on tools for textual, visual, spatial, and network analyses such as text mining, image comparison and annotation, mapping overlays, and network visualizations. By the end of the program, the cohort will have worked in teams to create interactive narratives for the Plant Humanities Lab, a digital space that Dumbarton Oaks developed with JSTOR Labs. Sheila looks forward to meeting collaborators who also believe in the importance of merging plant studies with multiple disciplines and sharing knowledge through dynamic and accessible means.

Recently, Sheila traveled to Chicago to attend a research methods workshop for early-career graduate students at the Newberry Library. Held on Friday, April 22, 2022, the workshop, “New Spain at the Newberry Library: Demystifying Colonial Documents from the Ayer Collection,” was led by Claudia Brittenham of the University of Chicago and Seonaid Valiant of Arizona State University. Participants received an introduction to the Edward E. Ayer Collection, which includes 4,000 rare colonial documents from New Spain. The workshop used the Ayer Collection and its history to discuss the historical migration of books in the global market and the various categories of materials produced by the Indigenous and Europeans during the colonial period, including sermons and dictionaries in Mesoamerican languages and pictorial court documents. The workshop also allowed the graduate students to consult rare documents in the collection including the Popol Vuh, a creation account of the Quiché Maya, and the 1524 Cortés map of Tenochtitlan.