Scholars' Lab Blog //Scholars' Lab becomes Laboratory for Digital Byzantine Sigillography
Blog //Scholars' Lab becomes Laboratory for Digital Byzantine Sigillography


Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia Library is proud to announce a change in name and concentration. Effective April 1st, the SLab (which has hitherto supported work in GIS, qualitatitive and quantitative analysis, and interpretive and textual scholarship in the humanities and social sciences) will sharpen its focus and be known as the Laboratory for Digital Byzantine Sigillography.

“Among major research libraries,” said University Librarian Karin Wittenborg, “UVa has made the most longstanding investments in Digital BS. Digital BS has enriched the landscape of the humanities and social sciences immeasurably,” she continued. “It’s just in the air in the former Scholars’ Lab. You can almost smell it!”

Department director Bethany Nowviskie agrees. “At UVa Library, we look for “shovel-ready” projects in the digital humanities and social sciences. In terms of Digital BS, scholars here have been piling it higher and deeper for decades.”

The name change comes with a significant shift to teaching and training, collaborations with UVa faculty, and admissions criteria for the lab’s Graduate Fellowships in Digital Humanities. Current Graduate Fellow Alex Gil was reached for comment at his dusty carrel in the bowels of Alderman Library: “As a doctoral candidate in English, you might expect me to be concerned about this new focus on digital Byzantine sigillography. Far from it! My dissertation is just full of digital BS! I’m ecstatic, and now plan to take an extra four to five years to immerse myself in it.” Former fellow and ethnomusicologist Wendy Hsu will defend her dissertation in the Lab later this month, before taking up a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Occidental College. She looks forward to “spreading all this Virginia BS westward.”

Outreach & Training Specialist Ronda Grizzle was careful to specify that the Lab will retain its two internal units: Consultation Services and Research & Development. One representative of Consultation Services, Kelly Johnston, was mucking around in the field and unavailable for comment beyond the following text message, sent to Grizzle repeatedly: “Sphragistics FTW.” Meanwhile, Wayne Graham, head of BS R&D, looks forward to fresh projects: “We intend to give a whole new meaning to the word ‘vaporware.’” New R&D hires Eric Rochester (Senior Developer) and Jeremy Boggs (Design Architect) expressed excitement at the opportunity to “ride the wave of digital BS at UVa.”

Some may see UVa Library’s new, exclusive concentration on digital Byzantine sigillography as a corrective to the broadening into meaninglessness of the phrase “digital humanities.” Nowviskie disagrees: “We’re an open community of practice. Everyone is welcome under the big tent of Digital BS.”

Cite this post: Bethany Nowviskie. “Scholars' Lab becomes Laboratory for Digital Byzantine Sigillography”. Published April 01, 2011. Accessed on .