Digital Humanities @ Bowdoin – Matthew Klingle

On January 13-16 of 2014, nearly two dozen Bowdoin faculty members are taking a turn as students in a short course for faculty titled “Digital Humanities @ Bowdoin,” as part of the College’s new Digital and Computational Studies Initiative. Some of the course participants have already gotten their feet wet with projects that take advantage of computational methods and tools. Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Matthew Klingle describes his current project:

Matthew Klingle

Matthew Klingle (photo by Dennis Griggs)

For my project, tentatively titled “Sweet Blood: History and the Nature of Chronic Disease and Diabetes in America,” I’m tracking how changes in nutrition, plus other environmental and social factors, may explain the increase of diabetes, specifically Type 2. My hope in taking the digital humanities course is to help me to redirect my research in three ways: to use computing technology to look for key words and concepts in biomedical literature and see how they change over time; to reconsider how to trace changes in diabetes prevalence and incidence spatially using GIS or related technologies; and to map the changing networks of diabetes research in the post-1960s decades. My hope is to help reconsider how seeing the staggering complexity of diabetes historically may open new and vital questions about medical research, disease prevention and treatment, public policy, and the shifting meanings of health and nature in America.

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