On Tuesday the Digital History seminar will be streaming live on the internet again. Here is the abstract:
Traditionally there has been a simple split in scholarship between social science approaches based on quantitative sources on the one hand, and humanities based approaches based on textual sources on the other. If you were interested in the former then IT had much to offer to help with your analysis, if however, you were interested the latter then IT offered little and you would instead stress the close reading of your texts. This cosy dichotomy is falling under threat because increasingly large volumes of texts are available in digital form and close reading is no longer a suitable approach for understanding all of the huge volumes of material that are now available. Unfortunately we know little about how to analyse texts in an IT environment in ways that are able to cope with both the large volumes of material – potentially stretching to billions of words – together with the traditional need within the humanities to stress detail and nuance. This paper presents some initial results from a European Research Council funded project Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS, Places that explores how Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology can be exploited to help us to understand the geographies within texts. It is based on two examples: one drawing on early literature from the Lake District, the other from a much larger collection of census and vital registration material drawn from the Histpop collection (www.histpop.org).