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Kirsten C. Uszkalo Simon Fraser University selected as a finalist in the Nebraska Digital Workshop

Kirsten C. Uszkalo, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Simon Fraser University, has been selected as a finalist in the sixth annual Nebraska Digital Workshop, sponsored by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.  Her topic is titled: The Witches of Early Modern England (WEME) Project

Large Scale Pattern Finding

As we continue to build the WEME database, we are simultaneously beginning to bring large scale data mining and data visualization techniques to the WEME project. Early experiments demonstrate a vast universe of associations which might not otherwise be seen in traditional close reading. We have an early prototype of Reading Leaves available online now.

Using a faceted search

The project team has decided that the WEME database should be accessible to interested scholars outside the project and to the public. Changes currently being made to the database are intended to provide the basis for a web-based browsing interface. For this, a data model that will allow a greater variety of browsing and linking than originally anticipated is required. Given a changing data model, changing use cases, and a changing technology stack, the required modifications to the...

Imagining Familiars

Our familiar is named Froggy; you may recognize him from his home left of here, underneath the navigation bar. He is a merging of the image of Mother Dutten’s toad familiar and Joan Upney’s familiar toads in The Apprehension and Confession of Three Notorious Witches (1589). Joan Upney was accused of witchcraft, and under examination, admitted to having a series of sickly and runaway familiars. Her final two toads died when, having heard the witch-hunters were coming for her...

Throwing Bones

Conceived of by Uszkalo as a way to visualize the pattens in witchcraft texts, Throwing Bones will allow the user to select a number of texts, a number of classifications, then search for results in the clusters. An example might be to look at witch's familiars and see what patterns emerge across time or located by geography. The interface design for Throwing Bones is based on the idea of using tarot cards and 'throwing bones' as methods to predict and interpret.


The Witches in Early Modern England project, led by Kirsten C. Uszkalo, designs and deploys strategically intersecting, innovative, and experimental digital tools to allow for robust searching and pattern finding within the corpus of texts relating to early modern witchcraft. Beyond that, its open-ended platform encourages further expansion by users, to push the limits of how digital technologies can enhance and inspire the academic interrogation of existing corpora.

WEME is a digital exploration of the nano-histories: a way to study the history of early English witching. Using WEME’s resources, you can use a time line, map, search box, or filter to explore almost three thousand individual multi-dimensional nano-histories of and align them, using digital technologies, to create a composite of the true and terrible stories of the early English witches.

Part reading / part seeing, WEME uses the metaphor or a stack of cards to magnify individual experiences. You can hover over the card stacks to see the content, click on the one you want, and click on the cards to see the information in the nano-history there – a mini-biography of the witch, a biography of her familiar, the event she was involved in, who else was there, what law was in effect, where the event happen, and what text it is recorded in – all you need to know to see if this moment of witching is relevant to your study. If you would like to keep the nano-history, drag the card into the basket and email it to yourself.

WEME traces the ‘real’ events, people, and preternatural beings recorded in printed witch-texts, medical manuals, and legal archives, and represents them as cells within the arterial witch-beliefs that stream rapidly and organically through the text, the body, and the land.

You have arrived at the WEME development site. Welcome.


All site content copyright © Uszkalo except where noted. Images courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.