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Computational Humanities: Models, Methods, and Tools

Tuesday 3 December 2019
12:00 (noon) - 13:00
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference Room 2.60

Computational Humanities: Models, Methods, and Tools

Join us for the third in our series of Lunchtime speakers (2019-2020) on research topics in Digital Humanities. This series will be especially of interest to Master students. 

The sheer amount of digital historical material available on sites such as archive.org or JSTOR raises a momentous question for the humanities scholar: How do we study so many texts at a time? In particular, how do we scale up our painstaking, subtle analyses to masses of texts without losing depth? While the details of both the answer and the question are different for different humanities disciplines, the core of the question and the challenge it poses remains more or less the same: Is it possible to scale up our methods while compromising as little possible of the nature of our traditional investigations? How?

In this talk I address that question from the viewpoint of the history of ideas - a broadly interdisciplinary, large-scale humanities-based approach to the history of human thought rather than a discipline. I divide the talk in four parts by: 

  1. Introducing my own, novel qualitative approach to the longitudinal study of the (meaning of) concepts, 'the model approach to the history of ideas', according to which concepts are modelled as networks of related terms with stable and variable parts to account for change-in-continuity;
  2. Showing how the approach scales up to big corpora lending itself to quantitative analysis;
  3. Showcasing recent work that adds to this mixed qualitative-qualitative method full-blown computational techniques based on information retrieval;
  4. Reflecting on how the approach may translate to the humanities in general.

I conclude with a brief overview of the state of the art of a constellation of experiments in my group. Readings for the points I discuss:

1. History of Philosophy in Ones and Zeros (preprint at the link below!)

2. Towards a Computational History of Ideas (preprint at the link below!)

3. Bolzano, Kant and the Traditional Theory of Concepts - A Computational  Investigation (under review, available on request)

To be held in the Huizinga Conference Room 2.60 from 12:00 (noon) - 13:00.

Please let us know you would like to join us by emailing: a.j.carter@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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