Topic: SNL & Presidential Candidates

Question: How many times are presidential candidates caricatured on Saturday Night Live versus election results?


Compare quantitative and qualitative data.

Quantitative: How many times was each candidate caricatured on SNL from 1975 to 2012?

Quantitative: Ratings for individual episodes featuring caricatures compared to election turnout figures, based on demographic figures.

Quantitative: Margin of victory of candidate in both numbers and percentages.

Qualitative: How are they portrayed?


All data will be presented in an interactive map that will be available online.  Clips from the episodes will be available by candidate and year.  Comment section will allow viewers to interact with the information.

by April, Molly, Charles and Stephen



Through Boise…

Molly & Ellie

Begin at Lucky Peak
Travel down Warm Springs Ave. (Warm Springs Historic DistrictOld Idaho Penitentiary & Pioneer Cemetery)
Ave B North
Fort Street to Robbins Rd.
Robbins Rd. to Collins Rd.
N. VA Hospital Loop past the VA Medical Center
5th St. to Hays to 6th St.
6th St. past the Capitol & Old Ada County Courthouse
6th St. past the Basque Block
Front Street to 13th (Linen District – dying area)
13th St. to Hays
Hays to Harrison Blvd.
Harrison Blvd. to Hill Rd.
Hill Rd. to 36th
36th to Veterans Memorial Parkway (Old Soldiers Home at Veterans Memorial Park)
Veterans Memorial Parkway to Chinden
Chinden Blvd to Eagle Road. (booming area)

Aftermath: San Francisco

The proposed game would allow the player to select a character in order to experience the earthquake and subsequent fire as they would have at the time. The player can select an actual person from the earthquake or they can choose to play as a composite character. Due to building standards, density and rescue attempts, the earthquake was experienced differently by the wealthier residents of San Francisco than by the residents of Chinatown, for example.  If the player chooses an actual person, there will be elements that connect their actual experiences to the gameplay.  Composite characters will have randomized experiences based on survivor accounts.

In terms of both space and time, the game will begin shortly before the earthquake so that the player will be able to orient themselves somewhat with their surroundings before the devastation hits. After the earthquake, the goal of the gameplay will be to stay safe in the changing city and eventually, begin to rebuild San Francisco. There will be an interactive or online element that will allow players to connect with friends in order to create a community.

Ultimately, the space element of the game is more important than time as the goal is to reestablish San Francisco which can take a relatively short time or much longer depending on the length and frequency of gameplay as well as how many people participate.

Additional elements will integrate photos, film clips and news accounts of the period.

Interview with Cameron Blevins

For the digital humanist assignment, I interviewed Cameron Blevins, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University focusing on U.S. History, specifically the late nineteenth-century American West. This was particularly interesting to me as my own thesis research focuses on the same region and time period. Cameron’s dissertation examines the role of the U.S. postal system in the shaping of the West. Cameron and I conducted our interview via email.

First, could you please share a little bit about your background and what drew you to the field of history?
Cameron: I was a history major at Pomona College (graduated in 2008), and the summer after my sophomore year received a grant to do independent research over the summer in Connecticut. I ended up studying the life of a former slave named Venture Smith and a flurry of real-estate transactions over the final thirty years of his life. At some point in the archives I fell in love with history and realized I wanted to do this full-time.

What was it that led you to the digital humanities?  Did you have any special training?
Cameron: I was transcribing and taking notes on all of these 18th-century real-estate transactions and realized I had no idea what the land actually looked like. So I ended up using GIS to map out the boundaries of the transactions, then overlaid them onto other kinds of data – soil quality, hydrology, other real-estate deeds, etc. in order to figure out what kind of land he was buying and selling, its value, and probable use. I had no formal technological background. From there it opened me up to the wider field of digital history, and I ended up applying to graduate schools with an application geared explicitly towards digital methodology. I had a clear research agenda for how I wanted to do history (if a much more nebulous notion than most applicants on what I wanted to study from a thematic standpoint). 

What role do you see technology playing in your current projects, is it supportive to your overall narrative or is it more of a primary, integrated aspect of your work?
Cameron: Technology is central to my current project. I’m studying the geography of the late-nineteenth century US postal system. The post was a massive spatial network, and the sheer scale of its operations requires me to work with data and sources that would be unwieldy or unusable without computers. Although I’m still at an early stage, I will be relying on technology from start to finish – from gathering the data to analyzing it to crafting and presenting my arguments in non-print formats. 

What do you think are the primary challenges to incorporating digital technologies in the study of history?  Are there any particular pitfalls or shortcomings that you’ve noticed?
Cameron: Despite the popularity of digital history/humanities over the past several years, challenges still remain. One is the inherent messiness of our subject. History doesn’t lend itself particularly well to neatly-structured databases or tables. We are all about context and contingency and digital tools sometimes seem too blunt for this kind of nuanced analysis. A second, though far less (and quickly receding) challenge is institutionalized resistance to technology. I personally think this is often overblown, but I am also aware that I work at an institution and in a history program particularly geared towards digital methodology and technology. 

Finally, if you could give any advice or recommend any skills to other students just beginning to explore the digital humanities, what would they be?
Cameron: My advice to students would be to throw yourself into the technical side of things but consciously mold it to fit your interests and practical needs. The most effective skill-building I’ve done has been when I’ve learned a new skill in order to accomplish a quite specific task or project. I learned how to program in Python in order to analyze a particular historical source (Martha Ballard’s diary). All technical skill-building is good, but I think it’s most rewarding when you see an immediate pay-off from the historical standpoint. A broader piece of advice would be: collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Seek out new projects and new ideas and talk to different people. Get yourself affiliated with different digital humanities initiatives or projects on campus and off campus. Openness is one of the really positive aspects of the field, so take advantage of it.

If you are interested, I would recommend you visit Cameron’s websites to learn more about not only his own dissertation work, but also the other projects he has been involved with.

Cameron’s academic page including his research, C.V. and the open content that he has made available to share:

Cameron’s blog on history, technology and the digital humanities:

Cameron’s Twitter: @historying