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

How to Teach Digital Humanities? Experiences and Expectations

Presenter: Gerhard Lauer, University of Basel
Date: Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Time: 4.15-6pm
Location: Exhibition Meeting Room 1 (223), Level 2, Fisher Library

Since large amounts of texts and objects became just a keystroke away and tools to explore data are available for non-computer scientists, the use of computers transforms the humanities as they transform other parts of society as well. The integration, however, of computer-based methods and research methodologies into the curricula of scholarly areas is not that simple. Statistics and formal models are not commonly part of the humanities. Sceptics about machine based research are widely shared in the humanities. While in linguistics or in archaeology a tradition of more scientific like methods are part of the disciplines many humanistic disciplines have only a small tradition of formal methods. In this talk I will discuss the systematic problems of teaching Digital Humanities as well as the many random factors of establishing new study programmes in the humanities.

Gerhard Lauer, Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Basel, recently published Humboldt’s writing on education (2017) and together wit Nicolaas Rupke a volume on the natural historian Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (2018). He is associate editor of the Journal The Scientific Study of Literature and one of the founding editors of Journal of Literary Theory. Professor Lauer researches and publishes on Jewish and Yiddish literary history, cognitive literary studies and digital humanities. His most recent book (in press) is about reading in the digital age.

Past events

Tracing the spheres of “public” in Europe, 1700-1910

Presenter: Mikko Tolonen, University of Helsinki
Date: Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Time: 4-6pm
Location: SLC Common Room (536),
Level 5, Brennan MacCallum Building
The University of Sydney

This paper will introduce Helsinki Computational History Group’s way of combining digital humanities and intellectual history. After an introduction of the group, the paper will focus on two different case studies that aim to track the development of public discourse in different parts of Europe.

The eighteenth-century saw a transformation in the practices of public discourse. With the emergence of clubs, associations, and, in particular, coffee houses, civic exchange intensified from the late seventeenth century. At the same time print media was transformed: book printing proliferated; new genres emerged (especially novels and small histories); works printed in smaller formats made reading more convenient (including in public); and periodicals - generally printed onto single folio half-sheets - emerged as a separate category of printed work which was written specifically for public consumption, and with the intention of influencing public discourse (such periodicals were intended to be both ephemeral and shared, often read, and then discussed, publically each day). This part of the paper studies how these changes may be recognized in language by quantitatively studying the word “public” and its semantic contexts in the Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO). It maps different uses of the term with an aim to show how the late eighteenth century is a distinctive period in a Habermasian sense, compared to earlier times with respect to pamphleteering in particular.

The second part of the paper focuses on the language, location and form of newspapers in Finland, 1771-1910. During this period newspapers developed as a mass medium in the Grand Duchy of Finland. This happened within two different imperial configurations (Sweden until 1809 and Russia until 1917) and in two languages Swedish and Finnish. This paper uses the metadata information about the newspapers to statistically trace the expansion of public discourse in Finland. By relating information on publication places, language, number of issues, number of words, size of papers, and publishers and comparing that to the existing scholarship on newspaper history and censorship, the paper aims at reaching a more accurate bird’s-eye view of newspaper publishing in Finland after 1771. The paper focuses in particular on the interplay between the Swedish and Finnish language papers, and suggest that the while the discussions in the public were inherently bilingual, the technological and journalistic developments that are traceable through machine reading methods advanced in different speeds in Swedish and Finnish. Toward the turn of the century 1900, Finnish papers started dominating the public discourse which changed the understanding of the language relations in the country. This part of the paper further assesses the development of the press in comparison with book production and periodicals, pointing toward a specialization of the newspapers as a medium in the period post 1860.

Mikko Tolonen is an intellectual historian. His main research interest is in the Scottish Enlightenment. Tolonen is the PI of the multidisciplinary Helsinki Computational History Group. His monograph, Mandeville and Hume. Anatomists of Civil Society was published in 2013 by the Voltaire Foundation in Oxford.