April is Digital Humanities Month at UCL! Along with the DH Project Starter Workshop and the event for UCL undergraduates, we are holding a series of talks. All are welcome and there will be a drinks reception after each talk. Please note that registration is required as places are limited.
Friday 12th April, 5.30pm, G31 Foster Court
“Contexts, Toward Building the Social Edition”
Ray Siemens, University of Victoria
This talk explores, via narrative and example, research contexts toward the social scholarly edition, among them notions of Big Humanities and Humanities 2.0, the nature of impact in and beyond academic environments, and engaging extended community through work anchored in an academic research agenda. A prime example will be the social edition of the Devonshire Manuscript (BL Add 17492)
Tuesday 16th April, 5.30pm, G31 Foster Court
“The Gates of Hell: History and Definition of Digital | Humanities | Computing”
Edward Vanhoutte, Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies, Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature
The origins of the Digital Humanities dating back to the late 1940’s are quite well known, or so it seems. In The Gates of Hell, Edward Vanhoutte recounts the story of the use of computational techniques through history and frames its early history within the context of failure from the part of war technology. He will show how the use of the computer for electronic text analysis developed into Humanities Computing and how the schism with Computational Linguistics occurred. He will argue that these historical insights are important for our current thinking about where the Digital Humanities come from, what they are, and where they should head to. Vanhoutte will use Auguste Rodin’s sculpture La porte de l’Enfer or The Gates of Hell as a metaphor throughout the lecture.
Thursday 18th April, 5.30pm, G31 Foster Court
“Exploring Enlightenment: Text Mining the 18th-Century Republic of Letters”
Glenn Roe, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford
The challenge of ‘Big Data’ in the Humanities has led in recent years to a host of innovative technological and algorithmic approaches to the growing digital human record. These techniques—from data mining to distant reading—can offer students and scholars new perspectives on the exploration and visualisation of increasingly intractable data sets in the human and social sciences; perspectives that would have previously been unimaginable. The danger, however, in these kinds of ‘macro-analyses’, is that scholars find themselves increasingly disconnected from the raw materials of their research, engaging with massive collections of texts in ways that are neither intuitive nor transparent, and that provide few opportunities to apply traditional modes of close reading to these new resources. In this talk, I will outline some of my previous work using data mining and machine learning techniques to explore large data sets drawn primarily from the French Enlightenment period. Building upon these past experiences, I will then present my current research project at Oxford, which uses sequence alignment algorithms to identify intertextual relationships between authors and texts in the 18th-century “Republic of Letters.” By reintroducing the notion of (inter)textuality into algorithmic and data-driven methods of macro-anlalysis we can perhaps bridge the gap between distant and close readings, by way of an intermediary mode of scholarship I term ‘directed’ or ‘scalable’ reading.
Wednesday 24th April, 5.30pm, G31 Foster Court
“Public support for the UK Digital Humanities: looking back and forwards”
David Robey, Oxford e-Research Centre
The UK has swung in a few years from leading the world in its infrastructure for the Digital Humanities to providing almost nothing in this respect. This talk, by the former Director of the AHRC ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme, will discuss some of the reasons for this change, and the issues, needs and prospects for a Digital Humanities infrastructure in the future.