In my last blogpost, I mentioned a frequent resentment of humanists towards DH, namely the opinion that data-driven results are simply meaningless correlations. Where does this attitude come from? Maybe we could find a...
Junior researchers who analyse their sources with digital approaches can profit from productive environments where the advantages and potentials of these techniques are well known and established. In Germany, for example, this is the case if they are in the lucky position to work in one of the (fortunately increasing number of) digital humanities institutions in Berlin, Cologne, Darmstadt, Hamburg, Jena, Leipzig, Mainz, Munich, Potsdam, or Trier. I’m pretty sure the list is even longer, but if they don’t work nearby DH institutions, they are often faced with prejudices against their practices. In this post, I want to list five statements revealing biased attitudes, which I constantly hear, and propose answers to refute them.
„One can’t go wrong with this,“ I thought. Well – now I know better!
In an academic exercise, I presented some digital methods to teacher trainees. I wanted to enable them to use these methods deliberately later in school. The required tools were as simple as possible. It was important that they were quick to apply (as teacher’s time is very limited) and easy to use (so their pupils could work with them as well – without losing attention on the content of the lesson). Hereby, the content, not the technology, must be emphasized.
Research about late antique women is often very difficult due to a glaring lack of sources. Letters addressed to women are rare, writings of women even rarer. The correspondence of the bishop of Hippo Regius, Augustine, written between 386 and 430 AD, is no exception. Despite 252 letters written by himself, only 17 are directed to all-female correspondents. Their responses are not extant.
“I think, yes, it’s also available with Latin texts,” Ines Rehbein and Josef Ruppenhofer answered during a lecture in one of our InFoDiTex sessions on my request. Immediately, I was electrified – to me this was a magic moment, because in most of the digital humanities conferences and summer schools, I learned to know powerful and valuable tools for English or German text corpora. Yet, my corpus covers a bundle of 252 Latin letters written by St. Augustine around the beginning of the 5th century CE. At least in my experience, useful tools for Latin texts are quite rare (I know there are many more possibilities with some skills in programming, but in this context, I’m thinking of hands-on tools for less technical researchers to start with).