History of Art and Architecture

Alison Langmead

Clinical Associate Professor and Director, Visual Media Workshop; Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences

Area of Specialization

Digital and Material Culture


Constellation(s): Contemporaneity, Mobility/Exchange, Visual Knowledge

Alison Langmead holds a joint faculty appointment between the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh. She teaches and researches in the field of the digital humanities, focusing especially on applying digital methods mindfully within the context of visual and material culture studies.

For the Department of Art History and Architecture, Alison serves as the Director of the Visual Media Workshop (VMW). The mission of the VMW is to develop and encourage the creation of innovative methods for producing, disseminating, and preserving the academic work using digital technologies as a fundamental component of our scholarly toolkit. To achieve these objectives, she directs a technologically-focused environment of collaboration and creativity where students and faculty from a number of departments across the University come together to work on projects that apply digital methods and techniques with focus and intention.

For the School of Computing and Information (SCI), Alison researches the relationship between the historical practice of information management and digital computing, both as a historical narrative and also as a complex, changing process in contemporary America. This research, plus all of the theories, concepts, and models that she teaches at SCI, are put into daily practice in her work directing the VMW.

In terms of teaching, Alison teaches courses in digital preservation and the digital humanities, especially, but not exclusively, at the graduate level.

Alison is also the principal contact for the DHRX: Digital Humanities Research at Pitt initiative, which represents a transdisciplinary network of scholars here at the University of Pittsburgh who use digital methods to study the ways in which humans interact with their environments, whether social or cultural, natural or human-created.

Digital Projects

Technical Director and Lead Project Manager
Initial design, 2012; alpha prototype, 2013-2014; beta prototype, 2015-present


The Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap
Principal Investigator
Draft and design 2016; production and testing 2017-present


Decomposing Bodies
Technical Director and Lead Project Manager
Early design, 2014; data collection/initial analysis, 2014-present


Designer, Information Architect, Implementation Lead
Design and implementation, 2013-2014; management and expansion, 2014-present

Education Details

PhD, Columbia University

MLIS, University of California at Los Angeles

Selected Publications

Langmead, Alison. “en-count-er maps: First Response.” Epoiesen: A Journal for Creative Engagement in History and Archaeology, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.22215/epoiesen/2017.2

Langmead, Alison, Paul Rodriguez, Sandeep Puthanveetil Satheesan, and Alan Craig. “Extracting Meaningful Data from Decomposing Bodies.” In Proceedings of Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing 2017, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 9-13, 2017 (PEARC17), https://doi.org/10.1145/3093338.3093368. Awarded Best Paper in the “Accelerating Discovery in Scholarly Research” Track.

Birnbaum, David and Alison Langmead. “Task-Driven Programming Pedagogy in the Digital Humanities.” In New Directions for Computing Education: Embedding Computing across Disciplines, edited by Samuel B. Fee, Amanda M. Holland-Minkley, and Tom Lombardi, 63-85. New York: Springer, 2017.

Langmead, Alison, Jessica M. Otis, Christopher N. Warren, Scott B. Weingart, and Lisa D. Zilinksi. “Towards Interoperable Network Ontologies for the Digital Humanities.” International Journal of Humanities and Computing 10, no. 1 (2016): 22-35.

Langmead, Alison. “The History of Archival Education in America: What's Next?” In Archival Research and Education: Selected Papers from the 2014 AERI Conference, edited by Richard J. Cox, Alison Langmead, and Nora Mattern, 273-314. Sacramento: Litwin Books, 2015.

Invited Talks

“Libraries, Information Visualization, and Public Access to Knowledge.” Rudi Weiss Memorial Lecture on Data Visualization, Annual Conference New York Library Association, Saratoga Springs, New York, November 2016.

“What is Curiosity and Can It Be Learned?” Invited panel presentation for a Year of the Humanities in the University Series, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 2015. Video of event available at http://library.pitt.edu/curiosity.

“Representation Is Not Equivalence: Digital Methods in Art and Architectural History.” Invited paper presented as a Visiting Scholar in the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, October 2015.

“Managing Research Data: Challenges and Opportunities.” Invited panel presentation at the University Senate Plenary, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 2014.

Academic Presentations

“A Socio-Technical Digital Preservation Roadmap.” Paper presented with Aisling Quigley at the 2017 NDSA Digital Preservation Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 2017.

“A Role-Based Model for Successful Collaboration in the Digital Humanities.” Paper presented with David Newbury and Christopher Nygren at the 2017 Keystone Digital Humanities Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 2017.

“’Do We Only Preserve What We Enjoy?’: Sustaining Images of Medieval Art and Architecture.” Paper to be presented at the 2017 International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2017.

“Computational Visual Aesthetics.” Full-day symposium co-organized and produced for the Year of the Humanities at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, November 2015. http://sites.haa.pitt.edu/cva.

 “Developing a Collaborative Pedagogy in the Digital Humanities.” Paper presented with Aaron Brenner, Matt Burton, and Aisling Quigley at the 2015 Keystone Digital Humanities Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 2015.

“The Representation Is Not the Thing: Digital Methods in Art and Architectural History.” Paper presented at the 2015 Joint CSDH/SCHN & ACH Digital Humanities Conference, Ottawa, Canada, June 2015.

Curatorial Work

Lead Curator, Data (after)Lives: The Persistence of Encoded Identity, University Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 9-October 14, 2016.

Selected Awards

“Sustaining MedArt: The Impact of Socio-Technical Factors on Digital Preservation Strategies.” Research and Development Grant (Tier I), Division of Preservation and Access, National Endowment for the Humanities, May 2015-August 2016.  

Role: Principal Investigator

“ECSS Award for Decomposing Bodies.” Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Extended Collaborative Support Service Grant, UIUC National Center for Supercomputing Applications, May 2015-May 2017.

Role: Principal Investigator

“Computational Approaches to Textual Networks.” Special Initiative to Promote Scholarly Activity in the Humanities, Office of Research, University of Pittsburgh ($5,242.50), May-August 2016.
Role: Co-PI with Matthew Lavin, Benjamin Miller, and Annette Vee