DH Toolbox

Inspired by Mina Loy? Want to create your own DH site?

Our free, open-source “DH Scholarship Theme” (DHS Theme), custom-designed by Greg Lord, is available for you to use and adapt.

As of 2023, the DH Scholarship Themes is no longer compatible with the latest versions of PHP.  As a result, we do not recommend adopting this theme unless you have an expert coder on your team who can update the PHP. As an alternative, you can adapt commercial themes such as StudioPress’s Altitude Pro or Infinity Pro themes for scholarly purposes, using plugins to enhance functionality. You can also explore the wide array of free WordPress themes available online, though be aware that they offer varying degrees of flexibility and functionality.

The DHS Theme1 can be used for a wide array of projects. For example:

  • Spin-off projects on other underrepresented figures in the avant-garde, using our Collections structure for a multi-chapter scholarly guidebook, staging a digital Flash Mob to continue theorizing avant-gardism, and incorporating close readings, bios, timelines, social network visualizations, art exhibits, and more!
  • A DH project on Sappho could likewise include a scholarly guidebook, maps, timelines, and close readings of fragments of her poems. The Flash Mob feature that we developed to display our post(card)s could be adapted to allow users to rearrange Sappho’s fragments in different formations to see what kind of texts they produce.
  • A DH project on images of Africa in Harlem Renaissance literature could situate primary texts in the context of the periodicals in which they appeared, using our metadata functions to record and display bibliographic information. Story Maps could be created to analyze magazine pages, as in Erin McClenathan’s StoryMap of View magazine. Users could be invited to contribute to a Flash Mob, submitting their own post(card)s about “What is Africa to me?” (the question Countee Cullen posed in his 1925 poem “Heritage”), so that the site could provide an interactive record of disparate responses to that question, past and present.

Here are some of the functions our theme offers to adapt WordPress to the needs of humanities scholarship:

  1. A simple, navigable home page. The DHS Theme includes a simple header menu with a customizable front page that can be tailored to any project. 
  2. The incorporation of metadata into WordPress via custom fields, making the CMS much more suitable to scholarly projects
  3. Collections” pages that allow parent/child hierarchies among chapters and sections that automatically generate a grid display and section menus, so that users can choose to proceed in a linear chronology or skip around by interest. These pages also have built in metadata, so that your project can be indexed in scholarly databases.
  4. Biography” posts with built in metadata. Currently used for biographies but could be adapted for other artifacts or objects, making WP function more like Omeka to create an archive.
  5. Close Readings” with side-by-side display of text and interpretation, with anchored links between. While this kind of display is especially good for poetry, it can also be adapted for any kind of textual analysis. 
  6. Flash Mob” submissions with an automated lightbox display of posts, which allows users to select and then rearrange them. This function allows users to contribute and interact with material on your site. 

In short, we have created a variety of ways to display and interlink specialized posts and pages in order to meet the needs of DH scholarship. Within this variety, we’ve established a consistent visual aesthetic and display logic. On the surface, the DH Scholarship Theme is simple and navigable, but there’s a fair amount of underlying complexity and differentiation that allows for greater functionality.

You can find the DHS Theme on GitHub, along with instructions on how to install and adapt it to your project.2

Accessible Design

Should you decide to develop your own DH project using our theme (and we hope you do), please refer to WebAIM’s guidelines to make your design accessible to a broad population of users:

As WebAIM Director Dr. Cyndi Rowland explains in “Keeping Web Accessibility in Mind,” accessible design is important because:

  1. It’s the right thing to do. (Everyone should have equal access to your content.)
  2. It’s the smart thing to do. (Why exclude 10-30% of your projected audience?)
  3. It’s the law.

Accessible design is good for everyone. Accessible design is good design.

  1. Or a comparable alternative such as StudioPress’s Altitude Pro or Infinity Pro themes, enhanced with plugins.
  2. Unfortunately, the DHS Theme Customizing Video was never completed. As of 2023, the DHS Theme remains available on GitHub, but to use it, you will need someone on your team with the expertise to customize the theme and update its PHP to current versions.