Data+: When Black Stories Go Global

While at Duke for the 2019-20 academic year, Humanities Unbounded Visiting Faculty Fellow Eva Michelle Wheeler adapted her project on the translation of racial language for the Rhodes Information Initiative’s Data+ undergraduate research program. During the 10-week co-curricular summer program, an interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students from Duke and Brown University collaborated to apply data science methods to enrich and expand the project. With guidance from Prof. Wheeler and a project manager from Duke’s Ph.D. program in Sociology, the undergraduate research team considered how racial language in African American film and literature was rendered for international audiences and also traced the global spread of African American stories. To examine how translators approached racial language in their texts, the research team used statistical methods to analyze a dataset that Prof. Wheeler created in collaboration with an undergraduate student from the Department of Romance Studies. The team also conducted a macro-level analysis of the linguistic, temporal, categorical, and geographic spread of African American stories using the IMDB and WorldCat databases.

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