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  • 1. Digital Humanities: aWhirlwind TourAndrew PrescottKing’s College London
  • 2. Utrecht Psalter, produced in Epernay between 816 and 823
  • 3. Silver nitrate photographs of the Utrecht Psalter commissioned bythe British Foreign Office to assist in dating the manuscript, 1872
  • 4. Photographs of theUtrecht Psalter made inthe British Museumusing the autotypeprocess, 1876
  • 5. Detail from autotypefacsimile of the Book ofKells prepared for theNew PaleographicalSociety under Bond’ssupervision
  • 6. Lessons of the Utrecht Psaltercontroversy• Potential of new technologies to explore historical artefactsin new ways• Importance of maintaining scholarly and critical approach• Need to engage with technology, bringing specialistunderstanding to bear• Need to take opportunities as they present themselves…• …while developing a strategic approach• That strategic approach nevertheless in itself reflects manycultural assumptions• These are all lessons that resonate in current understandingof digital humanities
  • 7. Digital image under ultra-violet light of fragment of 11th-century life of St Mary of Egypt in British Library, CottonMS Otho B.x
  • 8. ‘The digital humanities are what happens as soon asyou start to use computers to study the humanities’Willard McCartyAs soon as we started creating Electronic Beowulf, weimmediately became engaged with:• New research questions• New forms of access• New methods• New skills• New forms of presentation• New forms of collaboration and of workingtogether
  • 9. Debates in the Digital HumanitiesFormalism, Freudianism, structuralism, postcolonialism – grandintellectual cathedrals from which assorted interpretations ofliterature, politics and culture spread. The next big idea inlanguage, history and the arts? Data. Instead of looking for new‘isms’, digitally savvy humanists now argue, we should start looking athow technology is currently changing our understanding of what itmeans to do liberal arts.New York Times, November 2010Does the digital humanities offer new and better ways to realizetraditional humanities goals? Or does the digital humanitiescompletely change our understanding of what a humanities goal (andwork in the humanities) might be?Stanley Fish, January 2012
  • 10. Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0
  • 11. Areas of Debate in the DigitalHumanities• Transformative or tool? Desirability oftransformation?• Necessarily quantitative?• Big tent? Theory or building?• Where does a critical understanding fit in? Howimportant is it?• Modes of expression? Can scholarship be tweeted?• Is definition important, and do these questionsmatter?• Anglophone (and American) nature of muchactivity – how do we interpret this?
  • 12. Mapping Metaphor Project: University of Glasgow
  • 13. Library of Congress catalogue card
  • 14. Analysis of 11,616 SIGACT (“significant action”) reports relating to the war inIraq from December 2006: jonathanstray.comBlue=‘criminal event’Green= ‘enemy incident’
  • 15. Tim Berners Lee talk for TED on Open Data, Feb. 2010:
  • 16. Map showing location of bombs falling on London during the Blitz,
  • 17. Paveley Drive, Whistler’s Drive and other streets marked in thisarea were not built until the 1970s. The area was previouslyoccupied by factories.
  • 18. The green area marked here (Falcon Park) did not exist in 1940. It was aresidential area.
  • 19. Bomb on Balham tubestation, 14 Oct. 1940: omittedfrom the bomb census.
  • 20. Destruction of CoronationBuildings, StokeNewington, 13 Oct. 1940.Also omitted from thebomb census for thatweek.