Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group

Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group

The Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group aims to consolidate existing faculty resources in the field of digital humanities and to connect individual scholars and their projects within a collaborative framework in order to progress research in this area. Rather than looking at digital humanities as if it were a homogeneous field, our research group intends to frame digital humanities research as the people and questions that comprise it, acknowledging that an effective centralised digital humanities strategy has to embrace a diversity of technologies and methodologies, not favour a particular one or, worse, make the mistake of believing that digital humanities is a particular thing. In the rich, diverse and complex environment generated by showcasing and connecting the current digital endeavours of Sydney scholars, the main objective of our research project is to evaluate critically how these approaches and methods can most effectively enhance textual and visual scholarship, and, even more importantly, how the sum can become better than its constituent parts by creating a network which will offer opportunities for collaborative research and coherent engagement at the University of Sydney. In doing so, the group will reassess the ways in which technologies applicable to digital humanities reshape traditional forms of scholarly communication around text and image research.

Lead Researcher: Francesco Borghesi

Participants: Mark Allon, Linda Barwick, Mark Byron, Jeremy Hammond, Ian McCrabb, Jennifer Milam, Chao Sun, Shane White, Stephen Whiteman, Roland Fletcher, Adrian Vickers.

Upcoming events

Workshops

Samuel Beckett Digital Manuscript Project

Date: Monday, 4 December 2017
Time: 2pm- 4pm
Location: Brennan-MacCallum Learning Studio 110
Presenter: Dirk Van Hulle

Registration


Australian Open Scholarship Policy Observatory Workshop

Date: Thursday, 7 December 2017
Time: 11am- 4.15pm
Location:Seminar Room 223, the Fisher Library, University of Sydney

Registration

The workshop will be facilitated by Professors Lynne and Ray Siemens from Canada’s Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) partnership, which has recently established its own Policy Observatory. Other confirmed participants include:

  • Ginny Barbour (QUT), Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group
  • Anne Bell, (USydney), Consortium of Australian Research Libraries
  • Kylie Brass, Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Amanda Lawrence, (Swinburne), Analysis and Policy Observatory
  • Ingrid Mason, Aarnet
  • Lucy Montgomery, (Curtin), Director, Centre for Culture and Technology
  • Andrew Treloar, Australian National Data Programme

The object of the workshop will be to explore establishing an Australian Observatory, and to begin organising its future shape and work, as well as potential sources of funding, including possible grant applications.

This inaugural workshop grows out of Western Sydney University DHRG’s partnership with and commitment to INKE. It is being organised and sponsored by the Digital Humanities Research Groups of Western Sydney University and the Sydney University and the Sydney Intellectual History Network.


Public Lectures

Digital Poetics: Genetic Criticism and Digital Scholarly Editing


Date: Monday, 4 December 2017
Time: 5pm-6:30pm
Location: New Law School LT106
Presenter: Dirk Van Hulle

Registration


Symposium

Samuel Beckett, Modernism, Scholarly Editing

Date: Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Time: 9am-5:30pm
Location: New Law School LT104

Registration

Symposium program

Negative Modernism: Beckett’s Poetics of Pejorism and Literary Enactment
Keynote Address
Location: New Law School LT104
Presenter: Dirk Van Hulle

The relationship between Beckett and modernism remains a much-contested issue in Beckett Studies and beyond. Beckett’s place in the modernist canon has been questioned both on the grounds of periodization and style, with the term ‘late modernist’ (Weller 2015) increasingly gaining ground in the more recent scholarship. Without disputing Weller’s definition, this paper suggests a different approach by foregrounding Beckett’s trademark ‘fidelity to failure’ (Dis 145) and his radical denial of the Leibnizian concept of theodicy. To explore the philosophical prehistory of what could be termed Beckett’s negative modernism, it first discusses the ‘epiphanic’ modernism of his more canonical predecessors and then traces the contours of Beckett’s own poetics of ‘pejorism’ (a term he coined in the margins of his copy of Olga Plümacher’s Der Pessimismus and in his ‘Whoroscope’ Notebook) to examine how his negative modernism is enacted in his works.

Dirk Van Hulle, Professor of English literature at the University of Antwerp and director of the Centre for Manuscript Genetics, recently edited the new Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett (2015). With Mark Nixon, he is co-director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (www.beckettarchive.org) and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies. His publications include Textual Awareness (2004), Modern Manuscripts (2014), Samuel Beckett’s Library (2013, with Mark Nixon), James Joyce’s Work in Progress (2016) and several genetic editions in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, including Krapp’s Last Tape / La Dernière Bande, Molloy (with Magessa O’Reilly and Pim Verhulst), L’Innommable / The Unnamable (with Shane Weller) and the Beckett Digital Library.


Past events

Workshops

Virtual Humanities Lab: Looking Ahead

Date: Friday, 24 November 2017
Time: 10am-12:30pm and 2pm-4:30pm
Location: Location: Fisher Exhibition Meeting Room 1 (233), Level 2, Fisher Library
Presenters: Francesco Borghesi, Massimo Riva, and Dino Buzzetti

This workshop aims to present and discuss future directions of the Virtual Humanities Lab, a Brown University-based initiative, which provides a portal for interdisciplinary projects in Italian Studies and a platform for the encoding and annotations of a mini-corpus of late Medieval and humanist texts, including: Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica; Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron and Esposizioni sopra la Comedia di Dante; Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oratio De Hominis Dignitate and Conclusiones Nongentae. It will showcase various features of the VHL and focus particularly on the Pico Project, which uses the VHL platform to allow scholars and students of the Renaissance humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) to contribute to the translation and annotation of the some of his works from anywhere in the world in a collaborative digital setting. The workshop will provide an opportunity to address critical issues concerning the future of digital editing: the evolution of remote collaboration and text mining techniques to be employed for textual analysis.

The workshop will be run by Dino Buzzetti and Massimo Riva, and facilitated by Francesco Borghesi (Department of Italian Studies).


READ Solutions Session

Date: Monday, 26th of June 2017
Time: 10am-12pm
Location: CPC Seminar Rooms 1.2 and 1.4, Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney
Presenters: Mark Allon, Andrew Glass, Ian McCrabb, Kiyonori Nagasaki


As a follow up to the READ Workshop on Tuesday 20th June, Mark Allon and Ian McCrabb (University of Sydney), Andrew Glass (Microsoft, Seattle), and Kiyonori Nagasaki (Tokyo University) will explore the challenges and opportunities in extending READ beyond support for alphasyllabary languages (e.g. Gāndhāri, Sanskrit and Pali) to also support alphabetic, logographic, and logosyllablic writing systems.

The Solutions Session will be conceptual rather than technical, an opportunity to outline the problem space in each language group and to model design solutions. Whilst a particular focus will be support for Chinese characters, for which a proof of concept has already been developed in READ, the facilitators are keen to further explore the requirements for other writing systems to ensure that the architecture for the proposed Language/Script extensions to READ is flexible enough to encompass any language group and writing system.

In preparation for this session it would be appreciated if participants can bring with them both an image and the digital transcription of a text in soft copy, in whatever language their research interests lie, as sample material for discussion.

Date: Monday, 26th of June 2017
Time: 2pm-3.30pm
Presenter: Kiyonori Nagasaki, Tokyo University
Location: CPC Seminar Rooms 1.2 and 1.4, Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney

The Current Situation of SAT (the Japanese Taisho Chinese language Buddhist canon) Database and Recent Attempts to Leverage IIIF.

The SAT Database Committee (henceforth, SAT) has been released and been improving the SAT text database (henceforce, SAT DB) in order to provide a digital research environment for Buddhist studies. Researchers can not only search and browse the text of Taisho Tripitaka in various ways, but also partially see hi-resolution images of Tripitaka Koreana and Jiaxing Tripitaka (嘉興蔵) on SAT DB to confirm compilation of Taisho. Last year, SAT released a new database “SAT Taishōzō Image DB” (henceforce, SATiDB) (http://dzkimgs.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/SATi/images.php) compliant with IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) including Buddhist icons such as bodhisattvas, mandalas, rituals included in the Image Section of Taisho Tripitaka which consists of 12 volumes originally published in 1933. SATiDB provides hi-resolution images and search function of them with annotations which were added by 42 researchers of Japanese art history. Moreover, SAT will release a IIIF-compliant image database of Jiaxing Tripitaka (嘉興蔵) providing a function to compare the Taisho texts soon. In this presentation, usage of the database will be introduced.


READ Workshop

Date: Tuesday, 20th of June 2017
Time: 10am-12pm
Location: Physics Lecture Theatre 5 (Rm 337), Physics Building, The University of Sydney
Presenters: Ian McCrabb and Andrew Glass, University of Sydney

Organised by Mark Allon and Ian McCrabb, University of Sydney

READ and READ Workbench together provide an integrated research environment, publishing platform and corpus development framework for ancient Sanskrit and Prakrit texts; a model that can be expanded to other writing systems.

Rationale: The READ project commenced in 2013 with funding from a consortium consisting of the University of Munich (LMU), Germany, the University of Washington (UW), Seattle, the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, the University of Sydney (USYD) and Prakaś Foundation, Sydney. These Universities are all engaged in the study and publication of ancient Buddhist documents preserved in the Gāndhārī language that originate from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Academic lead for the project is Stefan Baums (LMU) and the development team comprises Andrew Glass from Microsoft as software architect, Stephen White (ex Microsoft and USYD) as system developer and Ian McCrabb as analyst/designer and project manager (USYD).

READ is the result of the convergence of two streams; the work of Baums and Glass on gandhari.org and data modelling undertaken in support of McCrabb’s PhD dissertation at USYD. The project brief for READ was to develop a comprehensive research environment and publishing platform to support the transcription, translation and analysis of ancient Sanskrit and Prakrit texts: manuscripts, inscriptions, coins and other documents. A critical element of the brief was that READ be based on open source software, support the TEI standard and provide an API for integration with related systems.

READ is complementary to existing textual repositories and integrated with existing dictionaries. Whatever format existing transcriptions were developed in these can be consumed, elaborated upon, analyzed, and then published as research output in TEI. The data remains open source and can be exported as a full XML archive. In summary, READ has been designed to function as:

  • a linked repository of images, transcriptions, translations, metadata, and annotations;
  • a content management system encompassing multi-user editing, maintenance and version control;
  • a collaboration platform with comprehensive access and visibility control;
  • a research environment with access to a dictionary, catalog of texts, glossaries and bibliographies;
  • a publishing platform for individual transcription renditions or full scholarly editions;
  • the kernel of an integrated research network interfacing with GIS, data visualization and image analysis systems.


Ian McCrabb, University of Sydney
READ and READ Workbench
Abstract: This presentation will provide an overview of the project, the modelling and design process, the development methodology and a brief system demonstration focusing on the core modules and workflows. READ is currently in production on four projects at the University of Sydney supporting the development of corpora in Gāndhārī, Sanskrit and Pali.

In order to support the management of resources and processes that need to be integrated in the development of a corpus, a server portal and management framework, READ Workbench, has been built. The presentation will provide an overview of the corpus development framework and a brief walk through of the methods and automated processes supported by READ workbench.

Ian McCrabb is the founder and managing director of Systemik, a Sydney based IT consulting group focused on information architecture and content services in the corporate and government sectors. Since its establishment in 1994, he has led the design, development and commercialization of consulting methodologies, web technologies and content transformation services; adapting the organizations business models to map to evolving corporate web content management platforms and strategies. Ian has an MA in Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies from USYD and his PhD dissertation continues his focus on methodologies for the analysis of donative inscriptions and characterization of the ritual practice of relic establishment in ancient Gandhāra (eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan). Ian is analyst/designer and project manager on the READ project and system designer of READ Workbench.

Andrew Glass, Microsoft, Seattle
Expanding READ to support any writing system
Abstract: READ is built on a database that models the separate components and layers of interpretation which scholars employ in their research on ancient documents. This model progresses along a spectrum from more-or-less statements of fact (e.g., the location of writing on a surface), to more interpretive data (e.g., the transcription value of an instance of writing).

The database model therefore can trace any particular scholarly choice relating to the study of a document back to an original fact, usually the location of writing on the surface in question. This link to the location of writing on the surface lies at the heart of READ and is what allows users of the system to modify their interpretations of their text repeatedly as they work on it without losing or disconnecting other facts and interpretations they have already made.
What is really happening in the system is that READ constrains the scholar to editing only one unit of interpretation at a time, otherwise links could become corrupted. In order to be able to constrain edits to a single unit of interpretation of a unit of the writing system, the system must know what is allowable for any unit of the writing system. That is, the system must model human writing systems.

READ was originally developed for the Gāndhārī language which uses the Kharoṣṭhī script. Kharoṣṭhī is an alphasyllabary or Abugida writing system that has shares many features with Brāhmī and derived writing systems of South and Southeast Asia. Therefore, the present READ system is optimized for working with texts for which the primary orthographic units consists of syllabic units.
This presentation looks at the challenges and opportunities in extending the READ system beyond the alphasyllabaries to also support alphabetic, logographic, and logosyllablic writing systems.

Andrew Glass is a Senior Program Manager in the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft. He works on text input and font shaping (Uniscribe). He has M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington, Department of Asian Languages and Literature. He has authored Unicode proposals for the Kharoṣṭhī and Brāhmī scripts together with Stefan Baums. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2008 he taught at University of Washington, University of Leiden, and Bukkyo University in Japan. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and one book, Four Gāndhārī Saṃyuktāgama Sūtras: Senior Kharoṣṭhī Fragment 5, published by the University of Washington Press 2007. He is the creator of the Universal Shaping Engine, a solution for rendering complex scripts based on Unicode data that has been adopted by major mobile and desktop computer operating system.



Seminar Series

Equipping Students with Digital Tools for The Humanities – with a Focus on Text Analysis

Date: Friday, 3rd of November 2017
Time: 3pm-4:30pm
Location: Fisher Exhibition Meeting Rm 1 (233), Level 2, Fisher Library, The University of Sydney
Presenter: Monika Bednarek, University of Sydney

As part of the new undergraduate curriculum, the Department of Linguistics will be offering a new, interdisciplinary (‘open pool’) unit of study entitled ‘Digital tools for the humanities’ (LNGS2628). The unit of study description is as follows:
New technologies are developing at a rapid pace and have enabled significant breakthroughs in collecting, analysing and visualising the textual data that are at the heart of many subjects. This interdisciplinary unit introduces students to the many uses of computers and digital tools, with specific focus on the analysis of spoken and written text. The unit will teach students how to use computer tools for the collection or analysis of discourse/text, for example social media, literature, fieldwork data, corporate communication, foreign language, interviews, news discourse and many more. The emphasis is on free and easy-to-use tools and no prior technical expertise is expected or required.
In this session I will start by offering my own thoughts on this unit, including ideas for assessment. I would then like to open the session up for input and discussion, including ideas for potential guest lectures from group members, thoughts on key readings, and discussion of the potential pitfalls as well as the opportunities of interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The session may also generate useful discussion about other future ‘Digital humanities’ units that could usefully complement this unit.

Monika Bednarek is Associate Professor at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Sydney. She researches and publishes on language use in the mass media as well as on the relationship between language and emotion/opinion. Her research often utilises corpus linguistics, an approach that uses specialised software to analyse patterns in language quantitatively and qualitatively. Her books include The Discourse of News Values (2017) and News Discourse (2012, both co-authored with Dr Helen Caple, UNSW), The Language of Fictional Television (2010), Emotion Talk Across Corpora (2008), and Evaluation in Media Discourse (2006). More information on her most recent work can be found at https://www.newsvaluesanalysis.com/. Twitter handle: @Corpusling


The Three Pillars of a Saussurean Parole

Date: Friday, 20th of October 2017
Time: 2pm-3:30pm
Location: Quad Latin 1 S224, Quadrangle Building, The University of Sydney
Presenter: John Burrows, University of Newcastle

Much of the quantitative work undertaken in stylistic analysis has to do with word frequencies-usually the relative frequencies of an appropriate set of word-types. The underlying postulate is that, by virtue of human individuality, our styles of writing form distinctive idiolects or Saussurean paroles, personal (though not necessarily conscious) selections from langue as a general system. These paroles display multifarious properties. Among them three major features, all quantifiable, enable us to model the style of written texts with considerable accuracy and to compare them with each other The three are measures of abundance, of consistency, and of interrelationship. Relative abundance, ranging from high frequencies down to zero, is easily calculated and can yields potent contrasts. But abundance is of little use for our purposes unless it is consistently sustained across a range of texts. Taken together, these two determinants carry a good deal of weight. Their limitation, however, is that they treat the language as a mere list of chosen word-types or, at best, as an aggregation of them. But, as everybody knows, language functions through the interrelationship of words. Those who have sought to go further by choosing word-types that tend to ‘go together’ have taken sequence and close proximity as their criteria. But many words display similar patterns of frequency without necessarily meeting those criteria: sets of grammatical associates, syntactic partnerships, and deixis among the function words or of features, like archaism, colloquialism, Latinism, and many others among the lexical words. Such sets, moreover, often have negative corollaries, the alternatives consistently not chosen. Across a range of texts appropriate to whatever case may be in hand, both positive resemblances and direct contrasts of frequency can be identified by Spearman’s method of correlation. The coefficients (or rho-scores) for many of the pairs united in this way show very high levels of statistical significance. These pairs can be gathered in sets embracing all the partners of a given member, with separate subsets for positives and negatives. When, for example, ‘the’ is taken as a ‘headword,’ it yields positive and negative sets, ‘THE_p’ and ‘THE_n.’ Such ‘rho-sets,’ as I call them, can then be treated as compound variables and employed as data in much the same ways as we customarily use single-word variables. The trials undertaken (and illustrated here) suggest that this approach gives unusually accurate measures of stylistic difference, especially with short texts. Many of the sets themselves are of considerable philological interest and help to explain how the study of word frequencies can be so rich in stylistic information.

John Burrows (MA Sydney & Cambridge, PhD London) is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Newcastle, where he has been the director of the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing, and which he joined in 1976 after having spent the previous fifteen years at the University of Sydney. Since he took up literary computing in 1979, he has published a book and over fifty articles in that field. The last to appear was in January 2017, a collaborative article in the Authorship Companion volume of the New Oxford Shakespeare. The most recent of all was submitted for publication in August, 2017. He has also given invited lectures in leading universities in Australia, the UK, and North America. These include Cambridge, Oxford, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Yale, and Toronto. Since 1989, he is Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and since 2010 Member of the Order of Australia. In 2001, he received the Busa Award for Computing in the Humanities.


Perils for Young Guinea-Pigs

Date: Friday, 8th of September 2017
Time: 3pm-4:30pm
Location: McRae Room S418, Quadrangle Building, The University of Sydney
Presenter: Linda Barwick, University of Sydney

PARADISEC–the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures–was one of Australia's early digital humanities projects. Since beginning operations in 2003 we have been a lean and agile virtual organization, pioneering distributed computing for archiving ethnographic audiovisual materials and contributing to national and international bodies developing standards for operation in the emerging digital humanities ecosystem. This presentation will trace some of the key points in this chronology, highlighting some of its low and high points, with a view to provoking discussion about planning for resilience and sustainability of digital humanities projects.

Linda Barwick is a musicologist, specialising in the study of Australian Aboriginal musics, immigrant musics and the digital humanities (particularly archiving and repatriation of ethnographic field recordings as a site of interaction between researchers and cultural heritage communities). She was the foundation director of the award-winning digital archive PARADISEC (paradisec.org.au), established in 2003 to preserve and make accessible field recordings of endangered languages and musics of the Asia-Pacific region. She has undertaken numerous projects to repatriate digital records of archival cultural materials, currently in partnerships with the Central Land Council (Alice Springs) and Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri Media and Communications (Yuendumu, NT), both funded as Australian Research Council Linkage Projects. Results from previous projects have included online song collections such as the Wadeye Song Project (sydney.edu.au/wadeyesong) and the Wangga Project (wangga.library.usyd.edu.au), produced in collaboration with relevant communities.


Angkor in the Age of Digital Data

Date: Friday, 18th of August 2017
Time: 3pm-4:30pm
Location: Oriental Room S204, Quadrangle Building, The University of Sydney
Presenter: Roland Fletcher, University of Sydney


Angkor has been studied for over a century and is conventionally understood as walled city of about 9 sq km surrounded by huge temples. Beginning with the use of aerial photography in the 1950s that picture has been changed but remained resistant to reappraisal until the late 1990s. The introduction of digital data systems such as radar and lidar has led to a redefinition of Angkor as a giant, low-density city covering about 1000 sq km. Comprehensive mapping has become possible, even of areas concealed under dense forest, profoundly changing our understanding of places as well known as Angkor Wat. Other research tools such as Ground Penetration Radar have revealed entire new shrines and located buried canals. Digital data management has profoundly altered how we study this vast urban complex of fields, canals, roads, temples, shrines, barriers, giant reservoirs, and its thousands of water tanks and house mounds. As a consequence, the economic basis of Angkor, its socio-political history and the factors involved in its demise have been transformed.

Roland Fletcher is Professor of Theoretical and World Archaeology at the University of Sydney. He has worked at the University of Sydney since 1976 where he has implemented a global, multi-scalar, interdisciplinary approach to Archaeology. In 1995 he published The Limits of Settlement Growth with Cambridge University Press, a study of the constraints on settlement growth over the past 15,000 years. In 2000 he initiated the Greater Angkor Porejct, an international collaboration with APSARA - the Cambodian government agency which manages Angkor - and the Ecole francaise d’Extreme Orient. The research has led to new insights into the form, size, history and enviornmental context of large, low-density settlements and a redefinition of urbanism. The overall program has been funded by five major Australian Research Council grants and has produced 15 PhD theses and 14 professional academics. He is the Director of the University of Sydney’s Angkor Research Program and has been an Distinguished Fellow of Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study, an invited speaker at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin, and a keynote speaker at the Chinese Institute of Urban Planners symposium in Nanjing and at the Shanghai World Archaeological Forum.


Digital Humanities: A Transdisciplinary Perspective

Date: Tuesday, 8th of August 2017
Time: 3pm-4:30pm
Location: Physics Lecture Theatre 5 (Rm 337), Physics Building, The University of Sydney
Presenter: Andrew Hugill, Bath Spa University

This seminar presents several interwoven lines of research in the digital humanities from the transdisciplinary work of Professor Andrew Hugill, Director of Creative Computing at Bath Spa University, UK. Hugill has a distinctive perspective on the field through his work in music composition and musicology, computer science and 'pataphysics. In particular, he will explore the challenges that arise when the objective precisions of computer systems encounter the subjective ambiguities of human beings, and the position of music in digital humanities research. In the process, he will consider such key concepts as creativity, style, logic, flow, exceptions, contradictions, and the pataphysical clinamen. Hugill is the author of 'Pataphysics: A Useless Guide (MIT Press, 2012) and The Digital Musician (Routledge, 2008).


Digital Tools and Visual Methods: the Virtual Museum of Balinese Paintings (balipaintings.org)

Date: Friday, 12th of May 2017
Time: 2pm-3:30pm
Location: McRae Room S418, Quadrangle, The University of Sydney
Presenter: Adrian Vickers, The University of Sydney

Visual sources are often treated as illustrations of text, but the opening up of recent archives of Indonesian historical photography and Balinese painting have demonstrated new possibilities for approaches to research. The Dutch collector Leo Haks was responsible for assembling a number of different archives during his career. The Haks collection of Balinese paintings has been used as one of the bases of a Virtual Museum of Balinese Painting that I have constructed. Both of these archives show how the ordering of images and demonstration of relationships between them reconfigures and remaps our understandings of agency and connections in Indonesian colonial and post-colonial contexts. Such arrangements of images of paintings demonstrate the utility of digital tools in research.

Adrian Vickers is Professor at the School of Languages and Cultures of the University of Sydney. He researches and publishes on the cultural history of Southeast Asia. His research utilises expertise in the Indonesian language as well as drawing on sources in Balinese, Kawi (Old and Middle Javanese) and Dutch. He has held a series of Australian Research Council grants (Discovery and Linkage), the most recent looking at modern and contemporary Indonesian art, Cold War history, and labour and industry in Southeast Asia. As part of a linkage grant on the history of Balinese painting, he is preparing a virtual museum, continuing previous pioneering work in eResearch and teaching. His books include the highly popular Bali: A Paradise Created (2012), The Pearl Frontier: Indonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia's Northern Trading Network (2015, with Dr Julia Mart'nez, funded by an ARC Discovery Project Grant) - winner of the 2016 Northern Territory Chief Minister’s History Book Award, A History of Modern Indonesia (2013) and Balinese Art: Paintings and Drawings of Bali, 1800-2010 (2012).


Data-Rich Research in the Arts and Humanities

Date: Friday, the 31st of March 2017
Time: 2pm-3:30pm
Location: Law School LT 026, Sydney Law School Annex, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney
Presenter: Paul Arthur, Edith Cowan University

Over the past two decades, the digital revolution has had a major impact on research, creativity, and knowledge production in all disciplines from the humanities to the sciences. Established ways of working and traditional disciplinary divisions have needed to be rethought to support new digital methods and to enable the shift from individual to collective and collaborative authorship and toward multimodal and multimedia textuality. In the humanities, such developments have helped to alter the dominant research culture over a relatively short period. New communities of researchers and practitioners are emerging, made up not only of experts in these disciplines but also computer scientists, communication professionals, business experts and policymakers, a mix that was uncommon even a decade ago. With increased collaboration, novel research topics are being formulated, and a new language, used by a new generation of scholars, is evolving. The increasing capacity for interoperability and aggregation is supporting this trend, as is the ever-expanding toolkit of digital devices, programs, and applications that make it easy for people to converse and share ideas and information regardless of physical location. Yet, there are also challenges to address. The same technologies that are supporting collaborative data-driven research practices are being deeply integrated into everyday communications, leading to serious concerns over privacy and digital identity. This talk reflects on these broad shifts in research and in society, in different settings - local, national and international - with a focus on the Australasian context.

Paul Arthur is Professor and Chair in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Edith Cowan University. He was Australia’s first professor in digital humanities (Western Sydney University 2013–16), the founding president of the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities (2011–15), and is currently co-chair of centerNet (the worldwide network of digital humanities research centres). Recent publications include Advancing Digital Humanities: Research, Methods, Theories (2014, ed. with Katherine Bode).

Public Lectures

Digital Publishing for the Humanities: Some Theoretical and Methodological Remarks

Date: Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Time: 4pm-5:30pm
Location: Fisher Seminar Room 218, Level 2, Fisher Library
Presenter: Massimo Riva

In the age of data mining, distant reading, and cultural analytics, scholars increasingly rely upon automated, algorithm-based procedures in order to parse the exponentially growing databases of digitized textual and visual resources. While these new trends are dramatically shifting the scale of our objects of study, from one book to millions of books, from one painting to millions of images, the most traditional outputs of humanistic scholarship - the critical edition of classic works from the past and the single author monograph - have maintained their institutional pre-eminence in the academic world, while showing the limitations of their printed format. Whereas, however, the reconfiguration of critical editions on the digital platforms has been the focus of extensive methodological discussion in the past two decades, also going through a number of innovative implementations, the monograph has lagged behind. Recent initiatives, such as the AHRC-funded Academic Book of the Future in the U.K. and the Andrew W. Mellon-funded digital publishing initiative in the U.S., have answered the need to envision new forms of scholarly publication on the digital platform, and in particular the need to design and produce a digital equivalent to, or substitute for, the printed monograph. Libraries, academic presses and a number of scholars across a variety of disciplines are participating in this endeavour, debating key questions in the process, such as: What is an academic book? Who are its readers? What can technology do to help make academic books more accessible and sharable without compromising their integrity and durability? Yet, a more fundamental question remains to be answered, as our own idea of what a “book” is (or was) and does (or did) evolves: how can a digital, “single-author” monograph, or, for that matter, a collaborative digital edition, effectively draw from the growing field of networked culture, without losing those characteristics that made them perhaps the most stable forms of humanistic culture since the Gutenberg revolution? This lecture will address these questions focusing on two pilot projects of the Brown University Digital Publishing initiative, generously supported by the Mellon foundation.