Tuesday 23 April 2024 – Postgraduate Panel III [hybrid]: Jasper Heeks (KCL), Kris Nolan (Portsmouth), Nina C. Rastinger (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

This seminar is 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm BST in Room N304, Institute of Historical Research. The IHR is in the North block of Senate House, University of London (Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU). You can also join online via live on Zoom (link https://zoom.us/j/5959205456).

This year the IHR Digital History seminar is support by the Programming Historian: a publisher of open-access, multi-lingual, and peer-reviewed tutorials that help historian learn digital tools, techniques, and workflows.

Session chair: Alice Kinghorn

The IHR Digital History Postgraduate Panels showcase historical research using digital methods that is taking place in the postgraduate community. A series of short papers will be followed by a question and answer session.

Speaker: Jasper Heeks, King’s College London

Title: Entering ‘Typospace’: the virtual terrain of nineteenth-century print culture.

Abstract: The continuing digitisation of primary sources is changing how history can be researched. The consequences for nineteenth-century English-language print culture, in particular, have been well recognised. Newspapers, especially, have been revitalised as sources, with historians gaining unprecedented access to the fascinating and varied information they contain. Digitisation is also furthering the transnational turn by providing access to sources that reside in other countries, with text-searchability also allowing scholars to trace the paths of border-crossing people, things and ideas much more easily. In response to these developments and drawing on my experiences researching overseas reactions to Australian street gangs, I propose the notion of ‘typospace’ to describe the virtual, abstract and mental terrain that has emerged from the digitisation of nineteenth century printed material. My paper expands on the different dimensions to this concept, considers the implications for historians’ investigative and interpretative practices, and reflects on the insights into late nineteenth-century information flows we can glean through digital history methods.

Speaker: Kris Nolan, University of Portsmouth

Title: Digital Archives – An assessment of text mining from the perspective of a non-historian.

Abstract: My research, at the academic intersection of History, Political Communication and Journalism, seeks to combine digital approaches with traditional humanities data. Under the conceptual framework of Big Data, digital archives over a fifty year period have been explored and analysed, with the purpose of understanding student activist movements, and to help provide guidance on how the past influences the present. This paper looks at analysing digital archives for the purpose of text mining. As an adaptation of my methodology, this paper aims to understand the methodological replication and implication of digital archival research. Through a longitudinal mixed methods thematic approach, the research has utilised digital technology to provide a fresh perspective on the student voice.

Speaker: Nina C. Rastinger, Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Title: Tracing 18th Century Arrivals: An AI- and GIS-Assisted Journey to Early Modern Vienna.

Abstract: The paper discusses the methodological approach as well as selected findings of the City of Vienna funded project “Visiting Vienna – digital approaches to the (semi-)automatic analysis of the arrival lists found in the Wien[n]erisches Diarium” (2022–2023). In the course of the one year project, reliable full texts of over 1500 arrival lists, i.e. lists documenting the arrival of upper class persons in early 18th century Vienna, were created through Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) with Transkribus and transformed into structured data by using GPT-3.5 and Promptify for Named Entity Recognition (NER). As a result, approximately 40.000 deduplicated entities, encompassing persons, dates and various types of places, have been identified so far and are currently being normalised, disambiguated and geocoded with the help of a specially created gazetteer. In combination with QGIS, this makes it possible to map high-ranking individuals’ arrivals and accommodations on historical plans of Vienna (e.g. Steinhausenplan 1710) and, hence, trace (parts of) past travels in space and time.

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