Webinar series: Digital Humanities Virtual Discussion Group for ECRs in Belgium Fall 2022 Edition

Are you an early career researcher in the field of Digital Humanities or a student interested in DH approaches who would like to discuss DH with other early career researchers in the Belgian DH community? If so, you might be interested in joining the DH Virtual Discussion Group for ECRs

Our sessions this fall will continue the under-the-hood” format. In these sessions, a volunteer from our community provides a thirty-minute overview of a digital project which implements a given tool, approach, or platform. This is not meant to be a research presentation, or to present findings or results, but rather to give our community a behind-the-scenes look at how decisions were made and why specific tools were chosen or developed. The hope is also that this presenter will give attendees some ideas about how to get started implementing a specific tool or workflow, and that they can also answer questions about other related ongoing projects that are implementing similar functionalities. This “under-the-hood” session format will allow us to have focused discussions around a specific project where we can learn from each other in an informal way. In addition, by implementing this format we can maintain the low threshold for contributing and engaging in the conversations. It also allows us to learn about the diverse projects in the Benelux region related to digital humanities! (An added bonus!)  

If you would like to join us for the fall edition, please mark your calendars for the following dates (check back for updated information concerning titles and abstracts):   

1 – Monday 24 October from 15h – 16h30 CEST via MS Teams

Speaker: Paavo Van der Eecken from the University of Antwerp
Title of Presentation: “Viewing Between the Lines: Annotating Sensitive Attributes in Illustrated Children’s Literature”
Abstract: In recent years, awareness has been growing about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Yet, when it comes to historical literature, the argument is often “that’s what the times were like”. The implicit assumption is that all children’s literature back then was similarly racist and/or sexist. Recent research, however, has revealed that the historical literary production for children was not as monolithic as that argument seems to suggest.

In the context of historical Dutch-language children’s literature, we still lack an overview of how representation plays out within the books, especially when it comes to the illustrations – a vital part of those stories. With this research project we aim to fill that gap, by analyzing patterns of representation along the lines of age, race, class, and gender. As a first step, we have annotated all human characters in the illustrations of one thousand children’s books published between 1800 and 1940 and assigned them attributes according to the four axes under study.

During the under-the-hood session we will discuss the decision-making processes underlying those annotations. We will pay particular attention to the data preprocessing, the tools that were selected, the use of external annotators and the specific categories and labels that were applied while annotating.

2 – Monday 14 November from 15h – 16h30 CET via MS Teams

Speaker: Houda Lamqaddam from the University of Liège and KU Leuven
Title of Presentation:  “Digital Satellites in Humanities Research”
Abstract: Though the argument for digital tools in humanistic research has been growing, they are often appreciated based on their validity in addressing specific research questions. In order to properly assess their effective value to the field, a more long-term assessment is needed. In this talk, I will present the concept of Digital Satellites in humanistic Research. Through the analogy with artificial satellites, I interrogate the short and long-term function of digital tools in DH by looking beyond their instrumental phase, into their lifecycle in its entirety. I will use concrete examples of the Cornelia digital art history project infrastructure to show how the proposed design principles can be applied.

3 – Monday 19 December from 15h – 16h30 CET  via MS Teams

Speaker: Laura Soffiantini from KU Leuven
Title of Presentation: “Yet there is pattern in’t!” Studying formulaic expressions in Latin funerary epigraphy.
Abstract: Romans inscribed hundreds of thousands of texts on stone. Laws, treaties, but also curses, and love poems were written on rigid supports and displayed to the public. But the kind of epigraphic texts that most copiously came down to us is private inscriptions commemorating the loss of a loved one. Generally reduced to a few lines, Latin tomb texts conveyed biographical information about the commemorated person in a highly standardized form.

The content of funerary inscriptions is largely formulaic. The same expressions and vocabulary are repeated in hundreds of texts to express feelings of attachment, love, or grief. Some of the Latin formulas became so popular over the centuries that are still in use nowadays. Despite the apparent uniformity of the texts, a closer look reveals significant variations in the use and combinations of formulas. With my talk, I aim to illustrate the potentialities offered by formulaic identification methods to investigate large corpora of formalized texts. I will demonstrate that the use of text analysis techniques will permit us to overcome the challenges posed by the redundant nature of epigraphic texts. Moreover, I will show to what extent the application of semantic network analysis provides a flexible approach to discovering communication patterns in Latin inscriptions. In conclusion, I will discuss the strategies to explore the dynamic relations between formulaic expressions in texts.

Some practical matters and registration: 

All of our sessions this fall will be held on MS Teams, and you will receive the link to the virtual meeting room on the day of the discussion.   

There are an increasing number of conferences, workshops, and funding opportunities in DH, and we would like to ensure that you are aware of them. We will start every session with a moment for individuals to share news about upcoming lectures, workshops, seminars, and conferences; and we will include an extra box on the Padlet (a link to the Padlet will be communicated in the email before the session) where you can also post these.   

If you would like to register or invite other colleagues to join, please fill in the registration form for the mailing list here. Please note, if you have already received email correspondence about previous editions of our DH Virtual Discussion Group, it means you are already on our mailing list. In that case, there is no need to register again—you will receive the emails with the MS Teams link and any additional materials on the day of the session. Additionally, you will also receive updates on upcoming sessions including further details about speakers and the “under-the-hood” presentation topics.  

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