Frontiers in Spatial Humanities (Video)

Frontiers in Spatial Humanities from Scholars’ Lab on Vimeo.

Bethany Nowvisky talks in ‘the final event of our NEH-funded Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship.

The Scholars’ Lab/NEH Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship was held at the University of Virginia Library May 25-27, 2010 and concluded with a set of two-minute, three-slide lightning talks by Institute attendees on their own spatial humanities projects and works-in-progress.

Review: Digital Humanities 2011, Stanford

Digital Humanities Conference, Stanford University, June 2011

Conal Tuohy and myself recently attended the Digital Humanities conference 2011 at Stanford University in California (19-22 June). In its 23rd year, the conference is the peak conference for the application of computing to humanities research with the numerous digital humanities associations holding their annual general meetings at the event.  Papers range from encyclopaedias in the study of Egyptology, to the computational study of linguistic-style in medieval texts, to the creation of digital editions of early modern texts.   Many of the panels and papers at the conference also included a ‘community building’ aspect such as teaching digital humanities, the digital humanities and alternative academic careers, and funding the digital humanities.   The keynotes at the conference were particularly impressive and included Dr Chad Gaffield, President of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada on Re-Imaging Scholarship in the Digital Age, David Rumsey on Reading Historical Maps Digitally, and JB Michel and Erez Liberman-Aiden, the developers of Google’s N-Gram viewer, on the quantitative analysis of millions of digitised books.

Chad Gafffield, President of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada delivering the annual Zampoli Prize Lecture on 'Re-imagining Scholarship in the Digital Age

And as the conference has its roots in literary and linguistic computing, it is perhaps not surprising that there is a strong representation of papers dealing with issues of encoding and computational analysis of text. Geoffrey Rockwell, from the University of Alberta in Canada, discussed corpus linguistics; or the study of the entire collection of works on any given subject using computational techniques. Rather that enter a digital corpus by a facsimile, as is lamentably the case with many digitisation projects in the humanities, Rockwell discussed ways to enter a  corpus using ‘corpus interfaces’ and search and analysis tools that are better placed to impart multifaceted understandings of the nature of the human record as it interfaces with the computer.

The next Digital Humanities conference is to be held at the University of Hamburg in July 2012.

The Digital Humanities: Beyond Computing

I approach this Digital Humanities journal issue with caution. Although admittedly I have only skimmed the articles (and there are some good arguments being made) someone still needs to make good humanities software to help us understand the human condition in new ways (and these ‘hybrid’ scholars are very much in the minority). I’ll go out on a limb here and state that the field within the humanities that has contributed the least to making good software is the field of Cultural Studies (even though they contribute good critical discourse to technical debates). Forgive me if I am wrong, but I cannot name one technical innovation from Cultural Studies; yet there are literally thousands from history and archaeology over many decades (check projects here).  ‘Beyond Computing’ indeed!


We are pleased to announce a new issue of the online, open-access journal Culture Machine:


edited by Federica Frabetti

The field of the digital humanities embraces various scholarly activities in the humanities that involve writing about digital media and technology as well as being engaged in digital media production. Perhaps most notably, in what some are describing as a ‘computational turn’, it has seen techniques and methods drawn from computer science being used to produce new ways of understanding and approaching humanities texts. But just as interesting as what computer science has to offer the humanities is the question of what the humanities have to offer computer science. Do the humanities really need to draw so heavily on computer science to develop their sense of what the digital humanities might be? These are just some of the issues that are explored in this special issue of Culture Machine.


Federica Frabetti, ‘Rethinking the Digital Humanities in the Context of Originary Technicity’

Jake Buckley, ‘Believing in the Analogico-(Digital)’

Johanna Drucker, ‘Humanities Approaches to Interface Theory’

Davin Heckman, ‘Technics and Violence in Electronic Literature’

Mauro Carassai, ‘E-Lit Works as ‘Forms of Culture’: Envisioning Digital Literary Subjectivity’

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, ‘The Digital Future of Authorship: Rethinking Originality’

Ganaele Langlois, ‘Meaning, Semiotechnologies and Participatory Media’

Scott Dexter, Melissa Dolese, Angelika Seidel, Aaron Kozbelt, ‘On the Embodied Aesthetics of Code’

Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa, ‘Glitch/Glitsh: (More Power) Lucky Break and the Position of Modern Technology’

David M. Berry, ‘The Computational Turn: Thinking About the Digital Humanities’

Gary Hall, ‘The Digital Humanities Beyond Computing: A Postscript’



Established in 1999, the Culture Machine journal publishes new work from both established figures and up-and-coming writers. It is fully refereed, and has an International Advisory Board which includes Geoffrey Bennington, Robert Bernasconi, Sue Golding, Lawrence Grossberg, Peggy Kamuf, Alphonso Lingis, Meaghan Morris, Paul Patton, Mark Poster, Avital Ronell, Nicholas Royle and Kenneth Surin.

Culture Machine is part of Open Humanities Press:

For more information, visit the Culture Machine site:

Transcribe Bentham in the NY Times

Jermeny Bentham's stuffed corpse on display at UCL (University College London)

Another article in a series of articles in the New York Time about the Digital Humanities. This time it is about the Transcribe Bentham project from UCL.

Since University College London began transcribing the papers of the Enlightenment philosopher Jeremy Bentham more than 50 years ago, it has published 27 volumes of his writings — less than half of the 70 or so ultimately expected (link to article).

Cyberinfrastructure debates in Australia (Humanities)

For those interested in the Cyberinfrastructure debate within Australia for the humanities, there are a number of key documents to consider. Here is a report produced by Professor Graeme Turner for the Australian Academy of the Humanities titled ‘Towards an Australian Humanities Digital Archive‘. The report came out of a scoping study of Digital Humanities activities; in particular for consideration by NCRIS’s (National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy) investment roadmap. (Also see the Humanities and Social Sciences working group’s response to the NCRIS Roadmap review).

As a component of the NCRIS process, the National Research Infrastructure Council (NRIC) has been established to administer a programme called ‘Landmark Infrastructure Needs‘. Responses have been called for; here is a response from the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA). And here is the response from the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH).

And if you don’t know what Cyberinfrastructure is; it is like a big electronic brain that connects researchers together so they can share data and work on it collaboratively and answer big questions! Here is an example from the Earth Sciences called AuScope.

Decoding Digital Humanities #2, August 26

Dear Digital Humanists,

Next Thursday 26th , 5.30-7.30 we will meet again in the Prince Albert Hotel, 191 Grattan Street, Carlton, to discuss digital humanities in the pub. ‘Decoding Digital Humanities’ is an informal monthly get together in to discuss all things digital in the humanities.  This is an opportunity to meet others working on digital projects (or thinking about starting one) and is open to staff, students, and faculty.

Again the format of Decoding Digital Humanities has been borrowed from one of the newest centre’s in the field, UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities in the UK. They hold a similar pub event and are eager to collaborate in some way with others working of the intersection of computing and the humanities (I believe a couple of places in the US have now started DDH too!).

This month we will be discussing the Free Software movement

Have a look at the material and come to the pub to discuss. We will meet down stairs and there is food available. And we can move upstairs if needed.

Tell others and hope to see you Thursday,

Kind regards,


Decoding Digital Humanities (Melbourne Chapter)

In conjunction with University College London’s Centre for Digital Humanities, Decoding Digital Humanities is an informal monthly get together in the pub to discuss all things digital in the humanities.  This is an opportunity to meet others working on digital projects and is open to staff, students, and faculty.

The first meeting of this semester will be held at the Prince Alfred Hotel, 191 Grattan Street

Date: Thursday  29 July 2010

Time 530-730PM

To kick off this semester, it is suggested that we engage with the same material as our colleagues at UCL. Melissa Terras from UCL gave the closing plenary at the recent Digital Humanities conference in London which is online as text and video and would be a good point to start the informal discussions. This is from UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities web site.

The annual Digital Humanities 2010 conference held this year at King’s College London was brought to a close on 10 July with a plenary speech by Dr Melissa Terras (UCL). Due to the topical and timely nature of issues raised in the speech, we felt it would make an excellent focus for discussion. The assigned reading for our meetup on the 27th will be:

“Present, Not Voting: Digital Humanities in the Panopticon”. Text available here. Video available here.

Have a look at the video and text and come along and discuss at the pub. If you have any suggestions for articles, software, funding opportunities any ‘digital humanities’ ideas drop us a line and we will put it on the agenda.  The meeting is organised by Craig Bellamy and Conal Tuohy of VeRSI.,