From Humanities: Texting in Ancient Mayan Heiroglyphs

The Madrid Codex, World History Archive

If King Tut were around today, could he send a text in Egyptian hieroglyphics? Yes, with the right font and keyboard. That’s because the writing system of the pharaohs has already been included in the Unicode Standard, meaning that a character like the Eye of Horus has a code point, 13080, that will render the same way on a tablet in Cairo and a smartphone in Beijing. Because Mayan hieroglyphs have yet to be encoded, the ancient Mayan emperor K’inich Janaab’ Pakal would have to stick to emoji—but that’s about to change.

Unicode is the international encoding standard that makes it possible for users to read, write, and search in a wide range of written languages on all manner of devices without technical miscommunication. Made up of a mix of academics, stakeholders, and interested volunteers, the Unicode Consortium has encoded 139 of the writing systems, technically known as scripts, ever to have existed. Given that alphabets like Cyrillic, Arabic, and Devanagari serve more than 60 languages each and that 500 languages use the Latin alphabet, Unicode makes electronic communication possible in almost a thousand languages. But there are more than a hundred writing systems to go.

In June 2017, the Unicode Consortium rolled out its tenth version in 26 years, which included four scripts as well as the Bitcoin sign and 56 new emoji. The scripts introduced this year include Nüshu, a writing system that was developed by women in the Hunan Province of nineteenth-century China as a workaround when they were denied formal education. Also newly available is Zanabazar Square, created by a Mongolian monk in the seventeenth century to write spiritual texts in Mongolian, Tibetan, and Sanskrit. Crucial as these steps toward cultural empowerment may be, it is the textable faces, socks, mermen, and the like that have brought this global standard into the limelight.

[Read More]

From the AHA: Benevolent Diplomacy

German boys line up to receive food from pots marked USA while a military official snaps a photo.

Read the original article from Kaete O’Connell

Last winter while leafing through the Official File at the Truman Library for material on Herbert Hoover’s 1947 economic mission to Germany, I was struck by a vibrant burst of color. The monochrome of telegrams and correspondence was replaced by colorful sketches of chickens, Lifesaver candies, and a family of beans marching to a can for preservation. The drawings were bound together with thank-you notes penned by young recipients of US food relief. German children clearly appreciated the “gift” of food, pleasing occupation officials keen to capitalize on American charity. German stomachs, particularly young ones, offered an alternate route to hearts and minds in the early Cold War.

At a time when the future of foreign assistance programs remains uncertain and military rhetoric is ascendant, we might look back to the experience in postwar Germany, when the United States practiced altruism as a form of diplomacy. For a brief moment, before Cuba, before Korea, and even before Berlin, the United States cultivated an image that relied as much on beneficence as military might… [read more]

Funding | Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities

Office of Digital HumanitiesNational Endowment For The Humanities Logo
Receipt Deadline March 15, 2016 for Projects Beginning October 2016
Visit official website.

Brief Summary

These NEH grants support national or regional (multistate) training programs for scholars and advanced graduate students to broaden and extend their knowledge of digital humanities. Through these programs, NEH seeks to increase the number of humanities scholars using digital technology in their research and to broadly disseminate knowledge about advanced technology tools and methodologies relevant to the humanities.

The projects may be a single opportunity or offered multiple times to different audiences. Institutes may be as short as a few days and held at multiple locations or as long as six weeks at a single site. For example, training opportunities could be offered before or after regularly occurring scholarly meetings, during the summer months, or during appropriate times of the academic year. The duration of a program should allow for full and thorough treatment of the topic.

Today, complex data—its form, manipulation, and interpretation—are as important to humanities study as more traditional research materials. Datasets, for example, may represent digitized historical records, high-quality image data, or even multimedia collections, all of which are increasing in number due to the availability and affordability of mass data storage devices and international initiatives to create digital content. Moreover, extensive networking capabilities, sophisticated analytical tools, and new collaboration platforms are simultaneously providing and improving interactive access to and analysis of these data as well as a multitude of other resources. The Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities program seeks to enable humanities scholars in the United States to incorporate advances like these into their scholarship and teaching.

Important Information

The application package for this program is now available.

Program Statistics

In the last five competitions the Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities program received an average of seventeen applications per year. The program made an average of four awards per year, for a funding ratio of 24 percent.

The potential applicant pool for this program is limited, since applications require a high degree of institutional commitment to the project and often require the availability of facilities such as participant housing and computer laboratories. On the one hand, this results in a small number of applications each year. On the other hand, the quality of the applications tends to be high, so that many applicants have historically received funding.

The number of applications to an NEH grant program can vary widely year to year, as can the funding ratio. Information about the average number of applications and awards in recent competitions is meant only to provide historical context for the current competition. Information on the number of applications and awards in individual competitions is available from


Contact the NEH Office of Digital Humanities via e‑mail at Applicants wishing to speak to a staff member by telephone should provide in an e-mail message a telephone number and a preferred time to call. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.

Funding | Paris Institute for Advanced Study Call for applications

The Paris Institute for Advanced Study welcomes applications from high level international RFIEA Imagescholars and scientists in the fields of the humanities, the social sciences and related fields for periods of five or nine months, during the academic year 2017-2018.

Visit the official website here.

Deadline for applications: Tuesday, March 1st, 2016, 3:00pm (Paris, France time)

Applicants may request residencies for one of the following periods:

September 1st, 2017 to January 31st, 2018 (5 months)
October 1st, 2017 to June 30th, 2018 (9 months)
February 1st to June 30th, 2018 (5 months)


Researchers from all countries are eligible.
Applicants who have spent more than a total of 12 months in France during the 3 years prior to the application are not eligible.

This call for applications is open to:

Senior university professors or researchers holding a permanent position in a university or research institution and having a minimum of 10 years of full time research experience after their PhD (at the time of the application).
Junior scholars having the status of postdoctoral researcher or holding a position in a university or research institution, and having a minimum of 2 and maximum of 9 years of research experience after the PhD (at the time of the application).


• Opening of the online application system: January 15th, 2016
• Application deadline: Tuesday, March 1st, 2016, 3:00 pm (Paris, France time)
• Preselection: Mid-March 2016
• Final selection: June 2016
• Publication of results: End of June 2016
• Starting dates of the fellowships: September 1st 2017; October 1st 2017; February 1st 2018.

Funding: ACLS Digital Extension Grants

Sponsor deadline: Feb 02, 2016ACLS Logo

ACLS Digital Extension Grants

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) inviteapplications for the Grant program, made possible by the generous assistance of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This program supports digitally based research projects in all disciplines of the humanities and related social sciences. It is hoped that these grants will help advance the digital transformation of humanities scholarship by extending the reach of existing digital projects to new communities of users. Grants will support teams of scholars as they enhance existing digital projects in ways that engage new audiences across a range of academic communities and institutions. To this end, projects supported by these grants may:

  • Extend existing digital projects and resources with content that adds diversity or interdisciplinary reach;
  •  Develop new systems of making existing digital resources available to broader audiences and/or scholars from diverse institutions;
  •  Foster new team-based work or collaborations that allow scholars from institutions with limited cyberinfrastructure to exploit digital resources;
  •  Create new forms and sites for scholarly engagement with the digital humanities.

Updates for Humanities Indicators

Over the past few months, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has been active inAmerican_Academy_of_Arts_and_Sciences_logo-prv its support for the humanities, with new reports on the employment status and earnings of humanities majors, the financial health of not-for-profit humanities organizations, metrics on the qualifications of school teachers, international comparisons of levels of adult literacy, and trends in public reading rates.

Key findings:

  • In 2013, the median annual earnings for humanities majors were $50,000 for those who held only a bachelor’s degree and $71,000 for those with an advanced degree (in any field). Both amounts were $7,000 below the median for graduates from all fields with similar degree attainment (but still well above the median of $42,000 for all U.S. workers).
  • The salary differential between humanities majors and graduates from most other fields shrinks with time in the workforce.
  • Humanities majors had somewhat higher rates of unemployment than graduates from all fields. The gap in unemployment narrows with time in the workforce and an advanced degree.
  • A comparatively large share of humanities graduates go into education-related occupations—especially among those with terminal bachelor’s degrees, where humanities majors are second only to education graduates.
  •  Among the 42% of undergraduate humanities majors who had gone on to earn an advanced degree, workers were more evenly distributed across occupational categories than majors in most of the other fields.
  • Revenues of humanities not-for profits have largely recovered from recession, but not all organizations survived.
  •  Less than 70% of students in each of several types of high school humanities classes were taught by a teacher with both a college major in the subject and state certification to teach it.
  •  While a growing number of recent humanities PhDs report their research was “interdisciplinary,” most confined their work within the humanities.
  •  The median time to PhD for students who paid for their education with personal savings or employer support was two years longer than the median for those who relied on scholarships, grants, and assistantships.
  •  An international study finds that literacy and occupational skill levels are highly correlated.

New in the Academy Data Forum:                                                                       

  • Christine Henseler (Union College) argues for a more expansive view of the value of the humanities.John Dichtl (American Association for State and Local History) and
  • Carole Rosenstein (George Mason University) discuss gaps in what we know about humanities nonprofits.
  • Barbara Cambridge National Council for Teachers of English) and Nancy McTygue (California History-Social Science Project) fill in gaps between the numbers on teacher on teacher credentials and classroom experience.
  • Jamie Carroll and Chandra Muller (University of Texas at Austin) assess what recent changed in the intended majors of college-bound seniors might portend for the humanities.


  •  The Lincoln Project releases a new publication to examine state funding of higher education and describes challenges that state governments face. (And in case you missed it, the first Lincoln Project publication was Public Research Universities: Why They Matter.
  •  50 years of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)In response to a bipartisan Congressional request, the Academy is initiating the first national study on foreign language learning in more than 30 years.
  •  We are pleased to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities—a vital sponsor for our work. The co-chair of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities, Richard H. Brodhead (Duke Univ.), delivered the keynote address “On the Fate and Fortunes of Public Goods” at a symposium commemorating the event.

Bodenhamer publishes new book on mapping and the humanities

The Polis Center’s Executive Director David Bodenhamer shares his expertise in spatial 9780253015600_medhumanities in a recently published book, Deep Maps and Spatial Humanities. Part of the IU Press Series on Spatial Humanities, the book appeared in February 2015 and features essays that investigate deep mapping and the spatial narratives that stem from it.

A deep map is a detailed, multimedia depiction of a place and all that exists within it. Whereas traditional maps serve as statements, deep maps serve as conversations. They use Geographic Information Systems as one tool among many digital technologies to enhance an understanding of space and place. Deep mapping encompasses platform, process, and product, with all three expressions embracing the multiple forms of evidence used by humanists and social scientists. This highly innovative approach to questions of space and place aims to make technology more amenable to the needs of scholars and to facilitate a more robust, visual, and interactive spatial narrative [more about Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives]. Each essay in the volume examines deep mapping as a means of exploring the complex problems of society and culture through new creative spaces that are visual, structurally open, multimedia, and multi-layered.

Contributors to the volume come from a variety of disciplines, including GIScience, computer science, history, religious studies, and geography. “What makes deep mapping exciting as an approach is that it draws upon the insights of many disciplines to help us understand how space and culture influence each other—and it uses new technical means to facilitate this understanding,” said Bodenhamer. “We no longer are confined to the flat map but now can use dynamic virtual spaces to explore our data, develop new questions, and enrich our perspective on how society and culture have evolved.”

In addition to his leadership of the Polis Center, Bodenhamer is Professor of History at the IU School of Liberal Arts and editor of IJHAC: A Journal of the Digital Humanities(Edinburgh University Press). In addition to his international reputation as a leader in the spatial humanities, he also is a well-published scholar in American legal and constitutional history. He is joined as editor of this volume by John Corrigan is the Lucius Moody Bristol Distinguished Professor of Religion and Professor of History at Florida State University and Trevor M. Harris is Eberly Professor of Geography at West Virginia University. The three scholars also serve as founding directors of the Virtual Center for Spatial Humanities; they jointly led an international NEH Advanced Institute on Spatial Narratives and Deep maps that was held at IUPUI in June 2012.

The book is now available for purchase at IU Press and other vendors.

The Future of the Arts and Humanities Roundtable: Keira Amstutz, William Blomquist, John Dichtl, Valerie Eickmeier, Jonathan Elmer, David Lawrence

Indiana Humanities LogoMarch 5, 2015 | 12:00-1:30
Location: Indiana Humanities, 1500 N. Delaware
Free tickets available soon (boxed lunches available for purchase)

Are the arts and humanities in crisis? What do financial cuts ultimately mean for arts and humanities institutions and their publics? What role should governments play in supporting the arts and humanities? What does the future look like for arts and humanities in this country and around the world? What functions do the arts and humanities provide in sustaining a democratic society?

This roundtable will discuss these and many other questions in this can’t-miss event featuring several of central Indiana’s leaders in the arts and humanities.

Keira Amstutz is the President and CEO of Indiana Humanities.

Dr. William Blomquist is the Dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Dr. John Dichtl is the Executive Director of the National Council on Public History and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in History in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Dr. Valerie Eickmeier is the Dean of the Herron School of Art and Design.

Dr. Jonathan Elmer is the Director of the College of Arts and Humanities Institute and a Professor of English at IU Bloomington.

David Lawrence is the President and CEO of the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

Fellowship Opportunity at Washington College and John Carter Brown Library

Brown University's John Carter Brown Library.  Image taken from
Brown University’s John Carter Brown Library.

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the John Carter Brown Library invite applications for the Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellowship, a unique research and writing fellowship. The deadline for applications for the 2015-2016 Hodson-Brown Fellowship is March 15, 2015.

The Hodson Trust – John Carter Brown Fellowship supports academics, independent scholars, writers, filmmakers, novelists and artists working on significant projects relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830.

Fellowship award: $20,000 plus housing and university privileges

Duration: two months of research in Providence, RI (any time between September and May) and two months of writing in Chestertown, Md. (any time between May and August)

Residence: In Providence, a private room in the John Carter Brown Library’s Fellows’ Residence; in Chestertown, exclusive occupancy of a restored circa-1735 house.

Work space: In Providence, space in the John Carter Brown Library; in Chestertown, a private office in the circa-1745 waterfront Custom House, home of the Starr Center

Deadline for 2015-2016:March 15, 2015

Further information and criteria:

Questions may be directed

NEH Creates New “Public Scholar” Grant Program Supporting Popular Scholarly Books in the Humanities

thThe National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced a new grant opportunity that encourages the publication of nonfiction books that apply serious humanities scholarship to subjects of general interest and appeal.

The new NEH Public Scholar awards support well-researched books in the humanities conceived and written to reach a broad readership. Books supported through this program might present a narrative history, tell the stories of important individuals, analyze significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic. Most importantly, they should open up important and appealing subjects for wider audiences by presenting significant humanities topics in a way that is accessible to general readers.

“At the Endowment we take very seriously the idea, expressed in our founding legislation, that the humanities belong to all the people of the United States,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams.  “In announcing the new Public Scholar program we hope to challenge humanities scholars to think creatively about how specialized research can benefit a wider public.”

The NEH Public Scholar program represents a long-term commitment at NEH to encourage scholarship in the humanities for general audiences. The grant program forms part of a new agency-wide initiative, The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role and significance of the humanities and humanities scholarship in public life.

The Public Scholar program is open to both independent scholars and individuals affiliated with scholarly institutions. It offers a stipend of $4,200 per month for a period of six to twelve months. The maximum stipend is $50,400 for a twelve-month period. Applicants must have previously published a book or monograph with a university or commercial press, or articles and essays that reach a wide readership.

Application guidelines and a list of F.A.Q.’s for the Public Scholar program are available online at The application deadline for the first cycle of Public Scholar grants is March 3, 2015.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

Media Contacts: Paula Wasley at (202) 606-8424 or