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A beginner’s guide to working with text as data

This book offers a practical introduction to digital history with a focus on working with text. It will benefit anyone who is considering carrying out research in history that has a digital or data element and will also be of interest to researchers in related fields within digital humanities, such as literary or classical studies. It offers advice on the scoping of a project, evaluation of existing digital history resources, a detailed introduction on how to work with large text resources, how to manage digital data and how to approach data visualisation. After placing digital history in its historiographical context and discussing the importance of understanding the history of the subject, this guide covers the life-cycle of a digital project from conception to digital outputs. It assumes no prior knowledge of digital techniques and shows you how much you can do without writing any code. It will give you the skills to use common formats such as plain text and XML with confidence. A key message of the book is that data preparation is a central part of most digital history projects, but that work becomes much easier and faster with a few essential tools.

What Lessons Can Be Drawn from Case Studies in France, the United States and Madagascar?
Hugo Carnell

, 20 : 3 , 202 – 9 , doi: 10.1111/1469-0691.12540 . Casey , A. , et al. ( 2021 ), ‘ Plague Dot Text: Text Mining and Annotation of Outbreak Reports of the Third Plague Pandemic (1894–1952) ’, Journal of Data Mining and Digital Humanities , first published online 20 January 2021 , doi: 10

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)

Featuring twelve original essays by leading Beckett scholars and media theorists, this book provides the first sustained examination of the relationship between Beckett and media technologies. The chapters analyse the rich variety of technical objects, semiotic arrangements, communication processes and forms of data processing that Beckett’s work so uniquely engages with, as well as those that – in historically changing configurations – determine the continuing performance, the audience reception, and the scholarly study of this work. Greatly enlarging the scope of earlier discussions, the book draws on a variety of innovative theoretical approaches, such as media archaeology, in order to discuss Beckett’s intermedial oeuvre. As such it engages with Beckett as a media artist and examine the way his engagement with media technologies continues to speak to our cultural situation.

Jonathan Blaney
,
Sarah Milligan
,
Marty Steer
, and
Jane Winters

INTRODUCTION It is a difficult task, doomed in advance, to say in a few words what has really changed in our area of study, and especially how and why that change took place. 1 There are a number of strands we have to try to weave together in describing the context and development of digital history. We will start by discussing the place of digital history within the broader context of digital humanities, and then within the context of the development of technology in the post-war period. We will move on to discussing the effect of the digital on

in Doing digital history

This monograph provides an innovative methodology for investigating how China has been conceptualised both at home and abroad historically by tracing the development of four key cultural terms (filial piety, face, fengshui and guanxi) between English and Chinese. Centrally, it addresses how specific ideas about what constitutes the uniqueness of Chinese culture influence the ways users of these concepts think about China and themselves. Adopting a combination of archival research and mining of electronic databases seldom employed in Asian studies, this monograph traces the history of translation exchanges between Chinese and English, showing how the translation process has been bound up in the production of new meaning, not just the transmission of ‘old wine in new bottles’. In uncovering how both sides of the translation process stand to be transformed by it, the study demonstrates the dialogic nature of translation and its potential contribution to cross-cultural understanding. It also aims to develop a foundation on which other area studies might build broader scholarship about global knowledge production and exchange.

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Setting the terms
James St. André

these are not exact equivalents, and the debates over which term is best cross over between the two languages in surprising ways. Methodology This study uses a mixed methodological approach, combining close reading of texts in their historical context along with various automated or semi-automated processes taken from what is now called digital humanities approaches

in Conceptualising China through translation
Author:

Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.

Editors: and

Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe illuminates the capaciousness of Margery Kempe studies in the twenty-first century. Through multiple, probing ‘encounters’, this innovative collection of essays generates and inspires interdisciplinary, overlapping, supportive, disruptive, and exploratory theoretical and creative approaches to the Book, and is a valuable new critical companion.

Structured around four categories of encounter – textual, internal, external, and performative – the volume suggests particular thematic threads yet reveals the way in which The Book of Margery Kempe resists strict categorisation. The fundamental unruliness of the Book is a touchstone for the analyses in the volume’s chapters, which define and destabilise concepts such ‘autobiography’ or ‘feeling’, and communities of texts and people, both medieval and modern. The chapters, written by leading scholars in Margery Kempe studies, cover a broad range of approaches: theories of psychoanalysis, emotion, ecocriticism, autobiography, post-structuralism, and performance; and methodologies including the medical humanities, history of science, history of medieval women’s literary culture, digital humanities, literary criticism, oral history, the Global Middle Ages, archival discovery, and creative reimagining. Deliberately diverse, these encounters with the Book capture the necessary expanse that it demands. Topics include the intertextuality of the Book, particularly in Europe; Kempe’s position within a global context, both urban and rural; the historicity of her life and kin; the Book’s contested form as a ‘life’ textualised and memorialised; and its performative, collaborative mode.

Encounters are dynamic, but they always require negotiation and reciprocity. This volume examines how encountering Kempe and her Book is a multi-way process, and paves the way for future critical work.

A distant reading of the contemporary moment
Caroline Bassett

This chapter maps out the landscape of the current moment of anti-computing through an informal experiment in a form of distant reading drawing on digital humanities methods and approaches. Using a machine-recommendation system, it identifies over sixty publications linked to anti-computing themes which together point to the outlines of the contemporary anti-computing moment. This is explored for itself, but is also considered in relation to earlier forms, and specifically in relation to the earlier and more general taxonomy – enabling identification of new categories of dissent, new elisions and dominant forms, and the recurrence of older tropes. Identifying accelerating tendencies to respond to anxiety and hostility to computational saturation with personal ‘cures’ rather than with demands for political or public responses, it then returns to consideration of what might constitute a fully critical mode of anti-computing, this latter constituting the conclusion of the work.

in Anti-computing
Abstract only
James St. André

This chapter investigates the twin concepts of filial in English and xiao in Chinese. After noting their early, independent development, with one tied to ancestor worship and the other closely tied to Christianity, it teases out both commonalities and differences which, on the surface, seem quite similar, as both emphasise their ‘natural’ basis in father-son relations. After an initial period of contact where the two terms are conceptualised as basically synonymous, differences emerge in the English discourse surrounding the translation of the term xiao, leading eventually to two terms, filial duty and filial piety, being the most commonly used binomes, and then finally in the twentieth-century consensus devolving upon the term ‘filial piety’ in English as no longer a native English concept, but rather a translation of the Chinese concept xiao, which by the modern period is conceptualised as significantly different from natural feelings of a child towards parents, and believed to be holding China back from entering modernity. This new understanding of xiao in English then impinges on the concept in China, where it is thoroughly debunked by many leading intellectuals and by the Chinese Communist Party, only to be resuscitated in the post-Mao era in the services of the state, partly through the intervention of overseas Chinese communities. The chapter combines digital humanities approaches to large databases of material along with close reading of passages from key texts in both Chinese and English from early Chinese classical texts through contemporary web pages.

in Conceptualising China through translation