Recently we welcomed a distinguished guest speaker to the DH Lab, Professor Jane Winters of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, to give a seminar on the current landscape of Digital Humanities (DH) in the UK. Prof. Winters discussed the results of a major new survey, commissioned by the School of Advanced Study, the British Academy, the British Library and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, into DH research, teaching and practice in universities, GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and the creative industries. The aims of the report were to document the current landscape of DH research, teaching and practice; identify what kind of support this needs; and explore possible demand for a UK-based DH network or association and the nature of the role that such an organisation could play.
Interpreting the statistics of the report for a highly engaged audience, Winters drew out from the facts and figures a picture of a diverse DH landscape, in which respondents identified themselves as belonging to almost forty different research areas. More than three quarters also had extensive involvement in teaching, either in their subject area or in DH. Winters noted that not all digital research and digital scholarship is described by its practitioners as ‘Digital Humanities’, even when it is firmly rooted in the study of Humanities sources and their related areas of specialisation. As researchers within universities, we therefore need to ensure that when we collaborate with creative partners or GLAM institutions, we try to use a common language to describe what we do: this will help not only in the project itself, but also in how we communicate what we do to those outside our particular areas of expertise.
What we’ve been up to…
Over the past six months, we have settled into life as interns for the DH Team. Throughout the internship, we’ve become accustomed to supporting and facilitating the research of staff in the College of Humanities, and acting as the first point of contact for all the types of people coming in to use the lab spaces. We’ve undergone training in photogrammetry, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), and 3D printing… all whilst attempting to formulate an answer to the question “what exactly is digital humanities?”
We’ve been supporting numerous research projects such as Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth’s digitisation of Early Modern Bristol women’s wills, digitising Ronald Duncan micro-cassette tapes and the 2D digitisation of a collection of historic posters from the Northcott Theatre.
In December, the Digital Humanities team recruited six new College of Humanities undergraduates to advisory intern positions, based in the Digital Humanities Lab. The interns commenced work with us at the beginning of the new term. We received an impressively large number of applications and, following a competitive interview process, we were pleased to appoint candidates with a keen interest in the field, enthusiasm, strong problem-solving skills, and an interest in careers within the Digital Humanities.
The team have put together an introduction to their roles below, and some background on their own interests. The team bring with them positive energy and new perspectives on our projects and we welcome them and their ideas to the Digital Humanities Lab research community:
New team member Emma Sherriff, outside the DH Lab
A warm hello to our blog readers, my name is Emma Sherriff and I am the newest addition to the Digital Humanities (DH) team. I am embarking on my DH journey at the beginning of an exciting new era of digital research, collaboration, and preservation for the College of Humanities; and ahead of the official opening of the Digital Humanities Lab on 23rd October by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Steve Smith.
My experience at the University of Exeter to date has involved supporting the work of Postgraduate researchers, as a member of the Doctoral College. My former role led me to discussions with the DH team around how the Lab can offer specialist expertise alongside cutting edge equipment, creating an opportunity to engage with, and connect an existing body of researchers across disciplines and themes. I am pleased to be involved in shaping the planning and delivery of training, digital projects and technical support in my new role.
In contrast to the huge scale of the previous conference in Kraków, Autumn has offered an opportunity to attend something a little more manageable. The Digitial Humanities Congress is hosted biennially by the Humanities Research Institute in Sheffield, and is a national conference that attracts international audiences.
In a very varied programme, the speakers covered topics such as musicology, text mining and analysis, semantic encoding and infrastructural issues. An early highlight was a series of papers, introduced by Marilyn Deegan, on the ‘Academic Book of the Future’, which discussed the potential shape of academic outputs, and specifically monographs, as the move to digital and open access opens up new possibilities. Creating works with greater interactivity and engagement, that can link directly to open access source material, and provide insight through well-designed interactive visualisations and access to raw data were all high on the wish-list, with some intriguing experiments.