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Anelise Hanson Shrout


Ph.D. New York University
B.A. University of Chicago


My interest in digital studies grows out of its ability to highlight hitherto unnoticed connections, to tell stories in new ways, and to make visible the histories of marginalized people. My training in American and Atlantic history led me to explore encounters between North America and the wider world. As a digital scholar, I am interested in the methods that help us to map and archive these encounters, as well as the tools we use to share our findings with the wider world.

As a digital humanist, I believe that we should think critically about the digital footprints that we leave, as well as about how the digital objects we use in the every day have histories, makers and legacies. I am also interested in how forms of academic output conditions the arguments we are able to make and the stories we are able to tell. My classes share a goal of helping students to conceive of digital studies as yet another way to interact with the world beyond the classroom.

My book project, To Ameliorate Distant Suffering: Charity, Famine and the Politics of Philanthropy, charts the politicization of 19th-century philanthropy through responses to the Irish famine of 1845-52. News of the famine was primarily transmitted through the popular press. An animating concern of my project has been to map the news networks that resulted in, for example, an article published in the Dublin Evening Mail being excerpted in New York Herald, and that excerpt paraphrased in the Cherokee Advocate. I am also interested in how these reports shaped the transnational philanthropic response to famine. 

Using network analysis, mapping, and demographic analyses of donors, I argue that donors used reports of the Irish crisis alongside the personal act of giving to link their experiences at the hands of imperial, national, and local governments with those of the suffering Irish. These connections rendered contributions to a distant crisis as critical statements that were able to subvert dominant assumptions about marginalized groups.

I am also developing the Digital Almshouse Project. This online database compiles the records of people of Irish descent admitted to New York’s Bellevue Almshouse between 1845 and 1852. This project began as an attempt to determine how immigrants used American public health infrastructure, but will develop into a fully searchable digital artifact.


Digital Maps, Space, & Place