French-American Bridge for Medieval Musical Iconography

Learning Outcomes

Participants in this program will be introduced to a set of digital humanities skills (including digital image analysis, image classification criteria, metadata analysis and management, assessment of database construction) that will expand and enrich their approaches to other courses, their research, and their future careers. Through their training and work in the program, students will build a new set of skills and expectations for the possible arenas in which they can employ their scholarship and digital competencies that will allow their work to reach a larger public.

The concrete output of the program will be the creation of records in the Musiconis database. Each student will produce a thematically related set of records, classifying images carefully chosen by the project leaders to create a structured learning experience. Students receive multiple forms of guidance for their work on the backend of the database and learn the multidisciplinary methodology for creating complex records.

Learning Goals

  1. Introduction to metadata: Learn the principles of metadata through a two-hour session, prepared by readings chosen by metadata specialists, introducing the principles of metadata using LC and Dublin Core classification systems as well as elements specific to the Musiconis project and database. Resources are shared on the project site. Communicate with CUL metadata specialists for further discussion and questions. The methods learned in this session are crucial for understanding choices made in the classification schemes used by the Musiconis database.
  2. Introduction to linked data: learn the principles of linked data and ontologies through two sequenced seminar-format sessions led by a computer scientist. Using the Musiconis database as an example, understand how linked data works in various contexts through sequenced exercises, and thereby gain both a specific and a general understanding of ontologies. Become familiar with the Getty Vocabularies as linked open data.
  3. Introduction to the relevant nomenclature specific to medieval images. Learn the fields in the Musiconis database using the bilingual project Wiki containing descriptions of all the fields and examples of sample records, complemented by the online course created by project members with the help of CTL. Acquire working familiarity with the specific nomenclature for instruments (using resources such as the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music) as well as the vocabulary (French and English) for medieval instruments available in the Wiki. Understand how organology (classification of instruments) relates to the management of digital image metadata. Analyze the possible standard titles for images to be indexed in the records that each student will create in the Musiconis database.
  4. Learn the principles and methods for the study of iconography. Acquire the knowledge and context for the study of images both in this specific project and in digital art history research more generally. Acquire familiarity with image classification systems such as Iconclass, Getty Vocabularies, and the Getty’s Cultural Authorities Name Index Online (CONA). An intensive session in Avery Library with a reference librarian ensures students’ familiarity with the full range of resources, both print and digital. To understand the relationship between the history of physical and digital image collections and their current management, visit Columbia’s Media Center for Art History, the Index of Christian Art (Princeton) and search the Metropolitan Museum’s Digital Collections in addition to using other digital resources such as Getty Images.
  5.  Acquire familiarity with the data-entry interface for the Musiconis database. Learn the interface for the creation of records through the project wiki, the online course, and several guided group tutorial sessions supervised by a pair of specialists (one in database construction and the other in musical iconography) who were both directly involved in the development of the database. Through presentations (including on field trips to other institutions) acquire the critical framework to assess the structure and scope of databases and other digital resources. Connect this framework and interface to knowledge acquired concerning metadata and ontologies.
  6. Acquire a broader understanding of the digital humanities. Learn the larger context of digital humanities as the vein of scholarly production that includes and frames this specific project. Understand how this project connects to analog scholarship and fits into the hybrid of analog and digital components. How is this project an instance of the digital humanities within a broader scholarly trajectory? Share digital resources on the project site and write assigned blog posts about the project activities.
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