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Beinlich, Ford to speak at UNL ‘Shaping the Future’ forum

April 9, 2018

Dakota State University students Sam Beinlich and Kennedi Ford have been selected to give presentations at the 2018 Forum on Digital Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on April 13, 2018. They are the first DSU students invited to this event, which is in its sixth year.

“The forum is about getting people together under the shared umbrella of digital humanities to talk about new and different approaches, methods, and ideas,” said Dr. Stacey Berry, associate professor of English for new media.

The 2018 forum’s topic is Shaping the Future, highlighting the role of digital humanities education in preparing students for a range of digital futures.

“These two outstanding students were working on projects that were such a great fit with shaping the future regarding digital humanities,” she said, so she recommended they submit a proposal for the event. They are among 15 scholars selected to participate in the student lightning round, each giving a 3- to 5-minute talk focusing on their own research and their vision for the future.

Beinlich, a junior computer game design major from Mitchell, S.D., will speak on using interactive game narrative to tell stories of serious content. An example she plans to use is “This War of Mine,” a survival game based on the Siege of Sarajevo which focuses on the civilian experience instead of combat. The game narrative blends together so the player “feels the dread and terror that comes with living in a war zone.” That said, designers sometimes need to take a step back to maintain a balance of fun with games, she added.

Her goal is to inspire others to “think about the stories we could be telling, the lives we could be sharing.” Beinlich is currently working on a game project to build a world which demonstrates the circular nature of poverty, and has other ideas for reintegration after homelessness, and sexual harassment in the work place.

Ford will be presenting “Honoring the Dead: A Digital Archive of the Insane Indian Asylum.” Berry and fellow faculty member Dr. John Nelson have been working to digitize documents from the Hiawatha Insane Asylum, located in Canton, S.D. in the early 20th Century. The asylum closed in 1934.

An English for new media major from Redfield, S.D., Ford knew the project would be emotionally devastating because natives were specifically targeted for this institution; she also knew it was an important project because of the casual way the documents discuss abuse and neglect.

“Granted, the times have changed, and we now know more about psychiatric care, but how did these people think these things were OK?” she said. Her goal is to explain the importance of digitally preserving old documents. “If the professors hadn’t brought these hundred-year-old documents into digital space, we wouldn’t have these stories anymore.”

Berry said, “When I hear students talk about these types of projects, I think they are shaping the future in such an amazing way.” Other DSU students will be able gain skills with digital humanities through the university’s new Digital Humanities Certificate, which will be available online fall 2018, Berry said.

The Forum on Digital Humanities is the signature event of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A joint initiative of the University of Nebraska Libraries and the College of Arts and Sciences, the center advances collaborative, interdisciplinary research by creating unique digital content and developing tools for scholarly discovery.

Dr. Simon Appleford of Creighton University will be the keynote speaker. The forum is free and open to the public. For more information, visit