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Workshop on Digital History

The workshop is organized by International Doctoral School of Ilia State University in cooperation with Georg-August University of Goettingen.

The Digital Revolution shapes our societies in many ways. We are facing a profound transformation of economy, entertainment, or everyday communication. At the same time, digitisation has an impact on academia. The sciences have conducted computer-based research for decades, running data-driven experiments. The humanities, however, do not show a long tradition of digital means of research.

This situation is changing. “Digital Humanities” (DH) have evolved at many universities around the globe. The young and growing DH apply a variety of digital techniques. For instance, texts are digitised and annotated with metadata, making them machine-readable. Thus, we can analyse thousands of texts in seconds: The computer identifies topics within the mass of documents. Semantic relations between mentioned persons or places may also become visible, allowing for the reproduction of networks. Visualisations of these networks serve as tools of further enquiry. Additionally, we can assess the emotional tone or stylistic similarity between source texts. Algorithms make that possible. In a nutshell, digital means of text analysis go way beyond the identification of single key words. They allow for an expanded access to the material, complementing traditional hermeneutic approaches. However, DH research does not solely deal with texts but also with images, audio recordings, or films. The relevant techniques allow for quantitative or qualitative analyses alike. Beyond that, the DH concentrate on digital editions, digital publishing, and other areas of interest. In total, “Digital Humanities” is a label for a lot of things, but always for digital approaches in the humanities. In practice, scholars work hand in hand with computer scientists or develop competencies in computational methods themselves.

As a member of the DH family, Digital History benefits from the interdisciplinary interchange. For instance, historians analyse texts by applying computational linguistic methods. However, historians have other research questions and research objects than linguists, philologists, or philosophers. Digital History addresses its own challenges and requirements when it comes to the application of digital techniques.

In this workshop, we will highlight prominent DH methods. Additionally, we will examine some possibilities of application for historians – spanning from text analysis for discourse analyses to the display of historic events in interactive maps, in order to investigate spatio-temporal correlations. After a brief overview, the focus of the workshop will be on discussion: How might digital methods support your research? What are benefits and boundaries of these techniques? How can we use them as new tools, not substituting traditional methods but rather complementing them? Does the digitalshift alter the self-conception of our discipline? We will tackle questions like these together.

Christian Wachter is a research associate at the Department of Medieval and Modern History, University of Goettingen. He teaches theory and methodology of history. His research focuses on Digital History, theory and methods of history, nationalism and antisemitism.

This online workshop will take place under the roof o IDS and will be open to all PhDs and early stage postdocs.

The online workshop will take place on 10th of May and will last 90-120 min. Starting time is 14:00.

Format of the workshop: Christian Wachter will deliver short (20 min) introduction speech followed by discussion/question round.

If you are interested in this workshop please, click here to get registered. Application deadline is 9 th of May 18:00.

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