About the Book
The book you are holding is an experiment built on top of an experiment. CESTA, the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, is itself an experiment in collaborative work in the digital humanities and allied fields. Bringing together independent “labs” from different parts of Stanford, connecting with scholars beyond the university’s walls (if it had walls), the idea of CESTA is simply this: combine faculty, staff, and students in a research lab setting and take advantage of what digital tools and methods have to offer for the exploration, analysis, and presentation of humanistic research, broadly construed to include the application of knowledge and concepts from the social and natural sciences. As such, the idea is founded upon shared work and shared space. It differs, in this regard, from much traditional humanities scholarship, which is often quiet and solitary (wonderful, in its own way). The use of computers, software suites, and digital visualization of evidence is also a departure from the traditional papers and books written by literary scholars and historians. This is so-called “digital humanities.” By now, this is old hat. Hence the experiment on top of an experiment: making a paper version, an old-fashioned book, from the diverse materials produced in our labs over the past several years. Of course, as the reader will soon discern, our scholarly practices have not actually diverged so far from traditional forms as might be expected. It is possible to translate what we are doing, in many cases, back into traditional paper and prose.