Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Website // Minority Visual Representation in Asia: St. Olaf College Independent Research 2020 (WordPress)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina, Adele Gordon, and Julianne Stewart. Minority Visual Representation in Asia: St. Olaf College Independent Research 2020. WordPress. 2020.

DESCRIPTION

Our interdisciplinary collaboration with one another in Spring 2020 was born out of a shared interest in learning about how minority groups within Asia were represented in visual culture. Prof. Spiker had research experience in dealing with representations of Ainu visual culture in the 19th and 20th centuries in Japan, while Julianne Stewart ’20 and Adele S. Gordon ’20 had an interest in learning about Taiwan and China.

One recurring question for us was this: “what is the difference between representations of a group by the dominant culture and being represented by one’s own community.” This vacillation between representations “of” and “by” became a touchstone for us as we navigated the complex visual economy of minority visual representation in Asia.

Our collaboration included (1) developing a shared reading list on this subject, (2) meeting weekly to discuss said readings, and (3) each collaborator developing an independent digital humanities project using StoryMapJS by the knight lab at Northwestern University. This was the students first experience using this particular program.

Digital // Analyzing Textiles with an Ainu Attush Robe (StoryMapJS)

DESCRIPTION

An analysis of a 19th-century Ainu robe from the Cooper Hewitt Collection at the Smithsonian Design Museum. This was produced as part of independent research conducted with students Adele S. Gordon ’20 and Julianne Stewart ’20 at St. Olaf College. Each collaborator created their own “story map” using StoryMapJS and used it to explore minority visual representation within Asia. The StoryMapJS was accompanied by a website.

Presentation // Comparative Itineraries: A Digital Humanities Approach to Understanding Authenticity in the Exploration of Hokkaido

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Comparative Itineraries: A Digital Humanities Approach to Understanding Authenticity in the Exploration of Hokkaido,” paper delivered at the Travel is Life, Travel is Home: Representing Travel and Landscape in Japan Conference, Iowa State University (April 4-6, 2019)

ABSTRACT

If you could ask any late nineteenth-century Euro-American explorer about their travels in Hokkaido, Japan, they would all tell you variations of the same story. After a voyage by a steamship, the traveler arrives in the port of Yokohama and confronts a Japan that is both foreign and familiar. After a few days exploration and orientation, they arrange passage to Hakodate by ship with the hope of traveling into Hokkaido’s frontier to meet the indigenous Ainu. Sometimes, these explorers frame the Ainu as savages beyond redemption; at other times, they describe them as naive indigenes in need of religion and civilization. But regardless of how they visually or verbally illustrate the Ainu throughout the text, you would undoubtedly hear tales about how it was this traveler who ventured farther and deeper into Japan’s interior than anyone who came before. As I read these various travel accounts of travel to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido in the form of explorer’s reports, memoirs, and travelogues, I started to question the exceptional nature of their claims. Did they travel as far as their hyperbole indicated? And when they finally met the indigenous inhabitants of this island, the Ainu, did they really have to navigate “impenetrable jungles,” as one traveler would have it, to locate the ideal “savage” specimen? My paper investigates the role of Hokkaido in three travel narratives written by authors Isabella Bird, Arnold Henry Savage Landor, and Frederick Starr in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I describe the various approaches that these travelers take to exploring the island and employ a digital humanities method to physically plot out the geographies of their route in CARTO DB and ArcGIS. In addition to making a case for the scholarly utility of this method, I use the example of my SCALAR website Mapping Isabella Bird talk about how such digital projects can serve a pedagogical function in posing questions about travel narratives and claims of authorial authenticity.

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Website // Japanese Woodblock Prints @ St. Kate’s w/ MaryJane Eischen (Scalar 2)

CITATION

Eischen, MaryJane, Christina M. Spiker, and Nicole Wallin. Japanese Woodblock Prints @ St. Kate’s. Scalar 2. 2019.

DESCRIPTION

Through the Assistant Mentorship Program at St. Catherine University, MaryJane Eischen ‘20 worked with curator Christina M. Spiker to create Japanese Prints @ St. Kate’s, a website to supplement both the gallery and library exhibitions. This digital component was built using Scalar 2, a technological publishing platform developed by the University of Southern California. The website catalogs the entirety of the Japanese woodblock print collection in the St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections and provides additional information about all prints and artists on display in each show. MaryJane also utilized a program called Timeline JS, which was developed by Northwestern University Knight Lab. This software was used to create two JavaScript timelines documenting both the artists in the collection and the ways these prints intersect with the history of Meiji Japan. The website also includes exhibition essays by Christina M. Spiker and Nicole Wallin ‘19.

Website // Mapping Isabella Bird (Scalar 2)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. Mapping Isabella Bird: Geolocation & Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880). http://mapping.cmspiker.com/japan/.

DESCRIPTION

This website is an open-source hub for students, educators, and researchers interested in the history of explorer Isabella Lucy Bird (1831-1904). It uses her example to explore the relationship between maps, explorers, visual culture, and tourism in Japan in the late nineteenth century. I first became interested in Isabella Bird while completing my doctoral dissertation on indigenous Ainu representation and the exploration of Hokkaido, and the digital project began in earnest in 2017.

The website is built using Scalar 2, a free, open source publishing platform developed by the University of Southern California and now a project of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC) that is designed for long-form, born-digital scholarship online. I wanted to work with Scalar specifically for the ability to assemble a rich media archive and annotate these images in conjunction with my writing. I also enjoy the ability to link media to writing to tags in a way that doesn’t privilege any one form of content over another. These connections can then be visualized in several ways as the project grows.

Many of the interactive maps found on this site are powered by tabular data (spreadsheets) culled from historical texts freely available on Archive.org and HathiTrust Digital Library. These sources are in the public domain. This information is visualized through various geospatial mapping applications, such as CARTO, ArcGIS, and Google Maps. These maps are then placed into context alongside examples of relevant visual culture. Some of the maps integrated were initially created for other projects, such as Traveling Hokkaido.

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Website Redesign // Art History That (WordPress)

CITATION

Hamlin, Amy K. and Karen J. Leader. Art History That. Not yet released.

DESCRIPTION

I received a design commission from Amy K. Hamlin and Karen J. Leader to redesign the website for their initiative Art History That, a project that curates, crowdsources and collaborates on the future of art history. The logo was designed by graphic designer Yer Moua (alumn of St. Catherine University) and the website is built using WordPress.

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Website // Tracing Lines (WordPress)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. Tracing Lines. http://geneology.cmspiker.com.

DESCRIPTION

This website is a personal project of mine that documents my archival quest to learn about my ancestors. I have often been surprised at the overlap between genealogical research and the archival research that I do as a part of my scholarly work. I wanted the website to serve as a resource for my family in addition to serving as a thought experiment in linking academic scholarship on memory and photography with the real practice of creating a personal genealogy. I work on this site primarily during the summer and winter months when classes are not in session.

The website is built using WordPress with embedded widgets from WikiTree. Eventually, I would like to employ some mapping so that I can visually place my ancestors on a map.

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Presentation // Mapping the Northern Frontier: Geo-Spatial Visualization and the Exploration of Indigenous Culture in Japan

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Mapping the Northern Frontier: Geo-Spatial Visualization and the Exploration of Indigenous Culture in Japan,” lightning paper delivered at the Global Digital Humanities Symposium, Michigan State University (March 16-17, 2017)

ABSTRACT

Coming Soon

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Digital // Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre (StoryMapJS)

DESCRIPTION

An exploration of woodblock printed triptych Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). This is a sample assignment used for my Arts of Japan course in Spring 2016 at St. Olaf College. Students created their own “story map” of a single work of art using StoryMapJS and explored it in relation to its artistic technique, social history, and cultural context. The StoryMapJS was accompanied by a written project abstract and self-assessment of the creation and research process. Students were also responsible for assessing the contributions of their peers.

Digital // Utagawa Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō (StoryMapJS)

DESCRIPTION

This exploration of print artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s (1797-1861) Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō was a collaborative project completed by the students in my history course Japanese Civilization at St. Olaf College during J-Term 2016. Students were each responsible for researching the local history and woodblock print associated with two stations along the famous Tōkaidō road. This research was then visualized in StoryMapJS, which helps create connections between the physical map, the significance of place, and the artistic representation of it. After the completion of the digital project, students were asked to write a paper comparing one of their sites with 3 other locations along the route completed by their peers.

Project shared online with written permission by each student in the course.

Digital // Traveling Hokkaido (ArcGIS)

DESCRIPTION

Traveling Hokkaido is an attempt to visualize the travel routes of several popular explorers, artists, and anthropologists who ventured to the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido (or “Yezo”) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The maps were created using a free account of ArcGIS. This endeavor currently focuses on three popular texts–rather than purely scientific accounts–including Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880), A. Henry Savage Landor’s Alone with the Hairy Ainu (1894), and Frederick Starr’s The Ainu at the St. Louis Exposition (1904). By studying the actual routes traversed both physically and imaginatively in these works, we can better understand and study the persistence of literary and visual motifs of Japan’s northernmost extents.

Website // Christina M. Spiker | Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist (WordPress)

version 1 (2013)

version 2 (2015)

version 3 (2018)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. Christina M. Spiker | Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist. https://www.cmspiker.com.

DESCRIPTION

The website that you are currently looking at has gone through many different permutations over the years as I have grown and shifted into my own career. It began as a graduate student blog hosted on WordPress.com. My first post was back on March 1st, 2013 and announced an upcoming conference presentation. Version 1 of the site had a rust-colored theme and catalogued “the early years” of my graduate student work and research in Hokkaido, Japan.

As I neared filing the dissertation, I transferred the website to my own domain (https://www.cmspiker.com) on April 15, 2015 and completely revamped the layout of the website through a fresh port of WordPress. The new design (Version 2, seen on the left) rendered my C.V. into a visual model and this formed the landing page for the website. The layout was bold and colorful and captured the excitement of embarking on my first two jobs in Minnesota at St. Olaf College and St. Catherine University. Maybe the color was helping me stave off the cold winters!

Version 3 of the website is a new development. I wanted something that was snappier in terms of loading times, but that maintained a fresh and flat look. This layout is a horizontal-scrolling one-page layout. I also wanted to incorporate color in bold new ways, which I do through my vector illustrations created through Assembly, an app that one of my students introduced me to this past winter. The website continues to serve as a visual and online C.V., but also takes steps to frame and foreground my current and ongoing research projects as well as renovate individual portfolio pages to better showcase the work being done.

We will see what Version 4 will bring!

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