Digital Humanities

Happy World Digital Preservation Day!

We work on lots of exciting digitisation work in the Digital Humanities Lab, and our wonderful undergraduate interns have put together a video to give you a snapshot of just some of the materials we have made digitally available.

Just some of the materials and techniques we work with in the DH lab

But how do we make sure that the resources we create will be usable in 5, 10 or even 100 years time? Digital content can be extremely ephemeral, and is vulnerable to being irreplaceably lost if we’re not careful – just think of how many floppy disks and CDs most of us have that are no longer supported by our current computer. So while we’re creating new content through digitisation in the lab, we’re also working hard with colleagues around the University to plan for the longer-term future of the materials we create, as well as supporting the preservation of digital resources in the University collections.

A lot of digital preservation goes on behind the scenes, and isn’t always as obvious as some of the other work we do, so World Digitisation Day, run by the Digital Preservation Coalition is a great opportunity to stop and celebrate what we do as well as see how much else is going on around the world!

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Uploading the Exeter Book – A behind the scenes look at digitising a literary treasure

Book on photography standThe new online platform for the Exeter book is now live, making one of the oldest surviving volumes of English literature in the world fully accessible to the public for the first time.  

The new platform has already been generating lots of interest, especially through Exeter’s role as a UNESCO city of literature, and since this kind of digitisation might be new to many of those interested, we thought we’d share a behind the scenes tour of what goes into creating the high definition images that make it possible to explore the tiny details of a 1,000-year-old manuscript on your phone. 

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DH Student Intern – Courtney Priday

Hi, I’m Courtney and I’ve just completed my BA English degree. In my final year I have worked as an advisory intern in the DH Lab and loved every minute. In this very unusual year, I have been lucky enough to gain experience in the lab and have got to work on some very exciting projects remotely.  

I first became interested in digital humanities, when taking the Rethinking Shakespeare module in my first year. On this module we had the option to create a digital edition of the ending of King Lear in TEI/XML for one of our assessments and from then on I was hooked. Over the course of this year, I have learnt more about 2D and 3D digitisation even creating my own RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) set-up from home when the second lockdown hit – a testament to what can be achieved with a torch, a marble and some string. Later in the year I was finally able to get back into the lab and learn how to use our RTI dome and complete some digitisation of Northcott Theatre materials using the A0 copystand in Lab 1 too. Although the AV Lab has still evaded me.  

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Student Internship Reflection – Jordan Lloyd-Head

Hi, I’m Jordan and I am currently working towards my BA History degree. This year, I have worked as an intern with the Digital Humanities Lab and I will be reflecting on the experience and skills that I developed in this blog post.

One of the best things about working in the labs is the extensive range of possibilities available, which gave me the opportunity to work with 2D, 3D, and Audio-Visual digitisation. My favourite area of work was 3D digitisation in the Makerspace, which houses our 3D printers and 3D workstation. This was an area which I became particularly interested in and one that would be of particular use to any future intern interested in cultural heritage. I loved 3D Digitisation because it required me to create things. 3D has so much potential for education as it creates a hands-on learning experience and makes digital education more accessible and is an area that I would definitely recommend getting into! In addition to my 3D work, I learnt how to code, played with Arduino boards, and also completed highly precise Photoshop stitching on our Saxton’s ‘Atlas of England and Wales’ project. Continue reading

Digital Humanities Intern Team Showcase 2020

Our intern cohort of 2019/ 2020 created individual presentations to share their experiences of working in the DH Lab and talk about their digital projects. Find out more about the benefits of the internship to their learning as Humanities undergraduates and the positive impact on their progression and aspirations.

Eve Alderson – BA History & French

Francis Elsender – BA Theology & Religion

Sophie Hammond – BA History

Laura Jones – BA History & Archaeology

Jordan Lloyd-Head – BA History

Tumisang Mbedzi – BSc Archaeology & Forensic Science

Volunteering in the Digital Humanities Lab


Student Internship Reflection – Eve Alderson

My name is Eve and I’ve just completed my last assignments as a final year History and French student at the university. Working as an intern in the DH Lab this year has been an incredible experience, allowing me to truly make the most of my final year at Exeter.

This internship has enabled me to develop so many skills throughout the year, related to both DH and the more general world of work. With regard to my DH skills, I have had the opportunity to be trained in 2D and 3D Digitisation, 3D printing and Audio-Visual techniques. I am particularly interested in 2D digitisation techniques because they allow us to study more closely and preserve historical documents and manuscripts, as well as the use of digital archives, to make them accessible to the wider public. Throughout the year I have been able to get involved in numerous projects of this kind, which has really enabled me to hone my skills. Continue reading

Student Internship Reflection – Francis Elsender

Hi, my name is Francis Elsender and I am a final year Theology and religions student. I originally wanted to be a Digital Humanities Lab intern because I am a big fan of technological innovations as well as the humanities but felt there really wasn’t a discipline that successfully blended the two together until I found out about the Lab. My favourite thing about working for the lab has to be the sheer variety of things we get up to on a day to day basis, many of which I would never have had the chance to encounter by just doing my degree. Thanks to working at the lab, I am now proficient in video and audio editing, digitisation of 2D and 3D objects, handling artefacts and texts and I could probably give photography and 3D printing a good shot too! All my co-workers will tell you that my favourite part of the lab is the AV suite as it allows us to make the humanities accessible to all through the resources we create. Continue reading

Student Internship Reflection – Sophie Hammond

Name: Sophie

Degree: BA History

Favourite project?

In my second term, I worked in partnership with Exeter City Football Club’s Grecian Archive to digitise VHS match tapes. This has been a standout project because it has given me invaluable experience in a leadership position, as I have been responsible for developing a workflow for the digitisation process and liaising with Archive staff.

What skills have you developed?

Working in the DH Lab has allowed me to interact with several exciting technologies, including 2D digitisation, 3D printing and Photoshop. Through my experience of digitisation, I have built upon my photography skills and have developed a strong attention to detail. Working on the advisory desk has also enabled me to strengthen my interpersonal skills through interaction with Lab visitors. During my internship, I have developed transferrable organisational, communicational and leadership skills. I have also gained self-confidence, as I have been given the opportunity to express my creativity within an enthusiastic team. Continue reading

Digital Humanities partnership with University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Members of Exeter’s Digital Humanities Lab recently visited the University of British Columbia, Okanagan to to continue our very fruitful collaboration with the AMP Lab and the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Studies (FCCS). Following an initial visit with Prof. James Clark the previous year, Dr. Charlotte Tupman and 2nd-year UG student intern Connor Spence, who is one of our outgoing Digital Humanities interns, were very kindly hosted for the week by Prof. Karis Shearer, Director of the AMP Lab, and Dr. Emily Murphy, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities, along with their student intern Stephen French.

Connor Spence presenting Exeter’s DH Internship scheme to FCCS colleagues

One of the aims of our visit was to further our work on two training modules – one on audio digitisation and one on text encoding – which will be offered to Exeter and UBC-O students as online, self-paced modules. During the course of the week, we tested and edited our training modules, sharing them with members of UBC-O’s Department of World Literatures and Department of English and Cultural Studies and gaining valuable feedback during the process. Continue reading

Force K6, Digitising Betty Cresswell’s Imperial soldiers collection

We are delighted to share this post by Katie Learmont. Katie, our Graduate Business Partner Technical Assistant, has been working at the Digital Humanities Lab for four months as a Technical Assistant. Prior to joining the team, she undertook a masters in Library and Information Studies at UCL and has worked and volunteered in a variety of settings, including Eton College, the Royal Academy of Arts, V&A and the European Parliament. Katie’s experience sparked an interest in how 2D and 3D digitisation can benefit academic teaching and research, and led her to join the Exeter Digital Humanities team.

One of my key responsibilities as Graduate Business Partner was to support our Intern team to undertake a small digitisation project relating to Muslim Indian soldiers in Europe during the Second World War. On 3rd December 1939, 1723 men, mainly “Punjabi Mussulmans” and 2000 animals left Punjab for France to assist the British army with transporting supplies and equipment over rough ground. After they were evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940, many RIASC (Royal Indian Army Service Corps) soldiers settled in military camps across the UK before returning to India in February 1944. Four RIASC men were billeted with Herbert Foster, who ran a tree nursery and chicken farm at the Plateau, Shirley Hollow. In 2016 Foster’s daughter, Betty Cresswell, met with Ghee Bowman (who is currently undertaking an AHRC funded PhD research project) at her farmhouse in rural Derbyshire. Betty showed him a small photography collection, featuring her parents with Captain Gian Kapur (Gian Kapur corresponded with the family regularly until his death in 1985), and the others, as well as press cuttings, letters, slippers and brass objects. Betty had met the Force K6 soldiers in 1940 when she was just three years old, and although she couldn’t remember them clearly she could remember the smell of chappaties cooking!

Betty Cresswell, Herbert Foster and Force K6 soldiers

Betty Cresswell, Herbert Foster and Force K6 soldiers

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