Dillon is a pioneer in the digital humanities, mining troves of documents collected for the first time online. An expert in 17th and 18th century literature of nations ringing the Atlantic—Britain and other European imperialist powers, the new America, Africa, and the Caribbean—she is building an archive of newspapers, stories, speeches, and poetry that has cast new light on Caribbean slavery.
“Illiterate peoples of Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba were harnessed to drive trade and economic growth,” she says. “But they had no voice.”
Unearthing their experiences and stories from the archives of colonialism is driving scholars to rethink their ideas about Atlantic World societies and economies linked by trade.
Research such as Dillon’s no longer requires years of worldwide travel. With the stroke of a keyboard, she can convene collaborators who include, at Northeastern, Professor of Political Science David Lazer, Associate Professor of Art and Design Isabel Meirelles, and Assistant Professor of English Nicole Aljoe, as well as scholars in Florida, Australia, Scotland, and Granada.