Photo of Shawn Graham

Shawn Graham

Associate Professor - Digital Humanities methods; Digital media for exploring & representing Archaeology and History; Computational Creativity

Degrees:BA Hons (Wilfrid Laurier University); MA, PhD (University of Reading, UK)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2842
Office:406 Paterson Hall

Shawn Graham trained in Roman archaeology but has become over the years a digital archaeologist and digital humanist. In 2016 he won a Provost’s Fellowship in Teaching Award and was designated a Carleton University Teaching Fellow. He recently won a SSHRC Insight Grant for a project called ‘The Bone Trade: Studying the Online Trade in Human Remains with Machine Learning and Neural Networks’. The project website is at He is part of the multi-institution SSHRC Partnership Grant funded project, ‘CRANE: Computational Research in the Ancient Near East’ led by Tim Harrison of the University of Toronto. Graham’s sub-project involves using neural networks to complete archival photographs for photogrammetric reconstructions. He is also part of the SSHRC Insight Development Grant funded project ‘Nanohistory‘, led by Dr. Matt Milner of Memorial University, exploring graph-theoretic representations of historical events; his subproject seeks to reconstruct museum collecting histories using the nanohistory method. He has funding to support MA students on that project and would be delighted to hear from prospective students. Graham also recently launched the XLab: A Virtual Cultural Heritage Informatics Collaboratory.

He keeps an open lab notebook of his research and experiments in digital history and archaeology at his research blog,

He is founder and editor of the open access journal, Epoiesen: A Journal for Creative Engagement in History and Archaeology.

His most recent book, Failing Gloriously (open access) documents his work”… through the digital humanities and digital archaeology against the backdrop of the 21st-century university. At turns hilarious, depressing, and inspiring, Graham’s book presents a contemporary take on the academic memoir, but rather than celebrating the victories, he reflects on the failures and considers their impact on his intellectual and professional development. These aren’t heroic tales of overcoming odds or paeans to failure as evidence for a macho willingness to take risks. They’re honest lessons laced with a genuine humility that encourages us to think about making it safer for ourselves and others to fail.”

His teaching explores historical methods and digital history at all levels, including seminars in the collaborative MA Digital Humanities program (see for instance as well as in the MA Public History program.

He was a faculty member at the NEH funded Institute on Digital Archaeology Method and Practice at Michigan State University. His sessions focused on augmented reality for archaeology, and how to fail productively in digital work:

(in the video below, start at the 4 min mark:)

Trailer for his graduate seminar in digital history (and here’s the syllabus):

Trailer for his undergraduate critical making in digital history course (and here’s the syllabus):

He  wrote  ‘The Historian’s Macroscope‘, a handbook to big data in digital history, for undergraduates with Ian Milligian (Waterloo) and Scott Weingart (Carnegie Mellon). The open access version of the book, along with supplementary materials, may be viewed at  

Dr. Graham’s github code repository is here.

And he also designed a board game about ancient Rome:

Research & Supervision Interests

  • Computational Creativity for History & Archaeology
  • Machine Learning
  • Open Access Pedagogies
  • Digital Public History & Archaeology (especially landscape)

Current Graduate Students

Sabrina Shoch. M.A. History with Collaborative M.A. in Digital Humanities. Co-supervisor with Jenn Evans – Memory & Commemorating LGTBQ experiences in the Holocaust

Max Cronkite. M.A. History. Co-supervisor with Marc Saurette – Games for expressing Medieval History

Jeff Blackadar. M.A. History with Data Science – Computer Vision & Hstory

Emma Gillies. M.A. Public History – Iron Age Women & Brewing Technologies

Jenna Emslie, M.A. Public History with Collaborative M.A. in Digital Humanities – Canadian Labour History explored via Video Games

Victoria Hawco. M.A. Public History with Collaborative M.A. in Digital Humanities – Video games as expressive history

Dr. Graham would be pleased to consult with graduate students of any stripe concerning the digital aspects of their work.

Honours and Awards

2019 Archaeological Institute of America, Award for Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology for the Open Digital Archaeology Textbook Environment
2016 Provost’s Fellowship in Teaching Award
2013   Desire2Learn Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning, Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
2012 Educational Development Centre Carleton University Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award
2010 Leadership Award, Grand Canyon University
2006 1st Digital Humanities Workshop Awardee, University Nebraska Lincoln
2005-6 1st Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Roman Archaeology, University of Manitoba
2004-9: Member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists, UK
2003-11: Register of Professional Archaeologists, North America

Current Digital Projects

Select Publications

2019 Failing Gloriously and Other Essays Grand Forks: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

2019 Al-Azm, A, K. Paul with contributions by S. Graham. ‘Facebook’s Black Market In Antiquities. Trafficking, Terrorism, and War Crimes’. Athar Project. June-2019-final.pdf

2019 Huffer, D., C. Wood, S. Graham. “What the Machine Saw: Some Questions on the Ethics of Computer Vision and Machine Learning to Investigate Human Re- mains Trafficking”. Internet Archaeology 52.5 DOI:

2019 Graham S., S. Eve, C. Morgan, A. Pantos. “Hearing the Past” in K. Kee and T. Compeau (eds). Seeing the Past. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Pp. 318-331.

2018 M. Lawall and S. Graham. “From Sherds on the Ground to Dots and Lines on a Screen: Moving from the archaeological record of Aegean amphoras to simulations of networks,” in J. Leidwanger and C. Knappett (eds.), Networks of maritime connectivity in the ancient Mediterranean: Structure, continuity, and change over the longue durée, Cambridge. Pp 163-183

2018 Huffer, D. and S. Graham. Fleshing out the Bones: Studying the Human Remains Trade with Tensorflow and Inception, Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology 1(1). DOI 10.5334/jcaa.8.

2017 Huffer, D., and S. Graham. The Insta-Dead: The rhetoric of the human remains trade on Instagram Internet Archaeology 45.5

2016 The Sound of Data. The Programming Historian.

2015 Graham, Milligan, and Weingart. Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian’s Macroscope London: Imperial College Press.

2015 ‘The Equifinality of Archaeological Networks: an Agent-Based Exploratory Lab Approach‘ Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22.1 248-274.

2014  ‘Rolling Your Own: On Modding Commercial Games for Educational Goals’ in K. Kee (ed.) Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press). 214-254.

2014    K. Kee and S. Graham, ‘Teaching history in an age of pervasive computing: the case for games in the high school and undergraduate classroom’ in Kevin Kee (ed) Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press).  337-366.

2013 Graham, S. and I. Milligan. ‘Review of MALLET, produced by Andrew Kachites McCallumJournal of Digital Humanities 2.1.

2013  Graham, S., G. Massie, Nadine Feuerherm. ‘The HeritageCrowd Project: A Case Study in Crowdsourcing Public History’ in Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki (eds.) Writing History in the Digital Age. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press). 222-232.

2013  ‘The Wikiblitz: A Wikipedia Editing Assignment in a First Year Undergraduate Class’ in Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki (eds.) Writing History in the Digital Age. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press).  75-85.

2012 Arya, A., P. Hartwick, S. Graham, N. Nowlan. “Collaborating through Space and Time in Educational Virtual Environments: 3 Case Studies.Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy 2.

2012 Graham, S., S. Weingart, I. Milligan. ‘Getting started with Topic Modeling’ in W. Turkel and A. Crymble (eds) The Programming Historian 2.

Recent Graduate Supervisions

Cristina Wood. M.A. Public History with Collaborative MA in Digital Humanities “Songs of the Ottawa: A Sonified Environmental History of the Changing Riverscape from the Chaudière Falls to Kettle and Duck Islands, 1880 to 1980”. Co-supervisor with Joanna Dean. Wood won the Univer sity Medal for Out-standing Graduate Work.

Hollis Peirce, History MA with Collaborative MA in Digital Humanities Academic Accessibility: A Case Study of Carleton University, 1942 – 2019”

Matt Dodds, History MA, on data mining the Old Bailey Online.

Danny Guay-Bellanger, Public History MA, on video game preservation.

Rob Blades, Public History MA, on soundscapes and memory in Pembroke Ontario.

Peter Holdsworth, Public History MA, on social networks analysis, public memory, and commemoration.

Undergraduate Supervisions

Ryan Pickering 2015/16 The Historical Consciousness of Dwarf Fortress

Hollis Peirce, Entangled with Books:Two Moments In the Evolution of Accessibility and the Notion of Universal Design blog. 2014/15

Allison Smith, Digital history and Black History in Canada  2013/14

Zack Battist, Feasting in the Bronze Age & Social Networks Analysis  2012/2013