Digital Humanities Workshop at the University of Liverpool (Shelley Farrar)
There is a long entrenched belief that most humanities scholars will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from their dusty tomes towards the digital age. The Digital Humanities Workshop successfully shows that whilst research in the humanities may be a little behind in its use of digital content in comparison to the sciences, it is being embraced and used in research that defies subject boundaries. Relatively new digital genres, such as web installations and multimedia text, have created a diverse research field, encompassing the need to use and archive digital resources, as well as disseminating research using this new media. Even in traditional humanities research, the digital realm provides opportunities to analyse large amounts of text, for example in corpus linguistics.
GIS (Geographic Information Systems) can represent qualitative sources as well an quantitative data and can create spatially referenced visual representations of sources when location is known. Examples of humanities projects using this tool include geographically mapped locations of addresses, schools and graves of WW1 Casualties (based on a substantial amount of local parish and military records) and the geographically mapped Lake District locations mentioned in the poetical works of Thomas Gray and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Visual representations of sources allows for a more interactive analysis of data and can present observable patterns more clearly, as well as providing structure to a database. An AHRC funded project that is currently in progress and will use GIS in its analysis is, ‘Early Cinema in Scotland 1896-1927: http://earlycinema.gla.ac.uk/‘ which goes beyond traditional analytical methods of film studies and will use GIS to study the spatial distribution of early cinemas and film locations during this time.
For more information and other examples of digitisation projects, please see this link: http://dhawards.org/. If you have location data in your research project and potentially want to use GIS as an analytical tool, there will be a free summer school in using GIS for the Humanities at Lancaster University on the 14th-17th July (I will post more information about this when I receive it). If you were not able to make this workshop but are still interested in learning more about the use of digital media in the humanities, then further workshops have been discussed and I will post times and locations as and when they are divulged.