Last September, as part of our seminar series, “60 minutes of DH”, at the IEG, I presented an introduction to historical (social) network analysis. In the talk, I gave an overview of the field’s history, discussing landmark papers, in my opinion. It was a mix of going through papers fundamental to shaping the discipline (a kind of consensus in the network science/social network analysis communities) and those that are important to me or I like. In the following, I will recount this biased – based on my opinion – talk about the evolution of networks research in this two-part post.
In 1550, the Catholic cathedral preacher Johann Wild (Ioannes Ferus, 1495–1554) admitted in the preface to his commentary on the Gospel of John that he reused texts of Protestant authors such as Johannes Brenz (1499–1570) and Johannes Oekolampad (1482–1531) in his book, but that he only borrowed thoughts that were compatible with Catholic teaching.1 Unfortunately, in his text, there are no footnotes or other references in his text to the authors he presumably cited. Since 1950, however, various historians have found verbatim parallels or at least significant similarities between Wild’s commentaries and Protestant authors.2 But these findings were more or less accidental. It is still unclear to what extend Wild actually quoted Protestant authors, which authors he used in particular, and so on. The main reason for that is that a manual search for verbatim parallels is very time-consuming, even more time-consuming than searching for censorship. So, is there a way to hack the search for literal quotes in 16th century books?
Writing history in the 21st century means considering the digital space as a significant space for the production of historical knowledge, especially since dichotomies such as “offline” and “online” fail to do justice to how “real” and “digital” intertwine. These elements, currently approached as complementary, imply that one of the challenges that historians now face is understanding how the digital is constituted as part of our experience, playing a great influence in the way we interpret and perceive the world. If the digital modify every aspect of our lives, it is plausible to ask what this would mean for the historical field, especially regarding standards of authority, which are the pillars of the discipline. For this purpose, our objective in this project is to identify and analyze what types of authority networks we can find in Reddit history forums. „Diving into Reddit: authority networks in history forums“ weiterlesen
We have come a long way since episode I of this miniseries: After digitizing the texts, normalizing the orthographic variants, and resolving the abbreviations, we used an interactive web app to find and correct remaining transcription errors. Now that the texts are free of mistakes we can finally use them for comparisons. In this episode, we will compare an original text with an expurged reprint to find censorship. Since the censors sometimes manipulated only one or two characters in a word, thereby changing the meaning of the whole sentence, we will compare the texts word by word using the Python module
„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode V: How did the censors actually change the text?“ weiterlesen
Die „DH from Scratch“-Veranstaltungen markieren auf den Tagungen des Verbandes „Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum“ aktuelle Diskussions- und Handlungsfelder, die sich aus der Koordination digitaler Forschung ergeben. Die vDHd2021 bot Gelegenheit, den Blick thematisch auf das Projektmanagement zu richten und methodisch eine experimentelle und virtuelle Herangehensweise zu wählen: eine partizipative Interviewreihe. Dieser Beitrag skizziert das Konzept, berichtet von der praktischen Durchführung und entwickelt konkrete Thesen als Ergebnis der Auseinandersetzung mit den „Unfrequently Asked Questions“.
In the winter term 2020/2021, Jaap Geraerts and I worked with students in the Mainz MA programme “Digitale Methoden in den Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften” (“Digital Methods in the Humanities and Cultural Studies”) to create a digital edition of early modern birth and apprenticeship letters. The edition includes records in French and Latin as well as German and highlights people’s cross-border mobility in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. „Geohumanities III: analysing early modern mobility through birth and apprenticeship letters“ weiterlesen
In the last episode, we built a pipeline to convert a diplomatic transcription into normalized Latin text. The code works fine as long as the diplomatic transcription is correct. But what happens if the transcription contains errors or, even worse, if the printer in the 16th century misspelled a word? – Right now, nothing would happen at the moment because our pipeline cannot detect these errors. This is a problem because as soon as we start comparing two editions of the same text to check for censorship (and that’s where we are going!), the slightest difference between the two texts may be interpreted as censorship. Can we solve this problem? – Yes, we can!
Visiting a museum as a kid, I sometimes wondered why I could hardly read anything in the medieval or early modern books and manuscripts displayed in the exhibition. Even after I learned Latin in school, the situation did not improve. I was not aware that people in former centuries used a lot more abbreviations than today, especially in Latin texts. As long as paper (or parchment) was very expensive, scribes and printers tried to save as much space as possible. Therefore, a sentence like “In principio fecit deus caelum et terram” could be abbreviated as “In prīcipio fecit de⁹ celū ⁊ ťrā” (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth” — the first verse of the Bible). You may have noted that these abbreviations worked differently than abbreviations like “WWW” or “U.S.” that we are familiar with today, and it would be nice if they could be resolved automatically with a Python script.
In the first episode of this miniseries, I explained how to use OCR with Transkribus to create a diplomatic transcription from images of 16th century Latin prints. However, the resulting text is full of abbreviations and may contain transcription errors. In both cases, Python scripts could help to normalize the text and to detect possible errors.
An indispensable prerequisite for pimping the Transkribus workflow with Python is flawless access to the data stored on the Transkribus server. It would not make much sense to manually download the data, then run some Python scripts on the command line, and finally upload the data again manually, especially when we talk about hundreds of pages to be processed. This episode will show how to download and upload transcriptions from and to the Transkribus server using Python. (Basic to intermediate knowledge of Python is required.)
The scholarly importance of “Priesterbibliotheken” (priests’ libraries) is well-known: they provide insight into what Catholic priests serving in the Holland Mission read or at least thought useful to own. Moreover, such libraries can tell us more about early modern Dutch Catholic spirituality, but also about the wider interest in books outside the remit of theology and pastoral care. Lastly, in particular libraries from the eighteenth century will also help to enhance our understanding of the schism which occurred in the Dutch Catholic Church. “Priesterbibliotheken (priests’ libraries) in the Dutch Republic” is a small pilot project which started at the IEG DH Lab in early 2021. The project aims to capture the bibliographical information contained in manuscript inventories of the libraries of Catholic priests serving in the Republic and making this available in digital form.
„Priests’ libraries in the Dutch Republic“ weiterlesen
by Markus Müller with the collaboration of Melina Ramirez
Since the 1980s, our knowledge on 16th century censorship has been growing constantly thanks to coordinated research projects and new sources. In over ten years of research, for instance, José Maria Bujanda and his team edited all printed catalogues of forbidden books issued by Catholic authorities in the 16th century (eleven volumes until 1999). This made it very easy to check whether a certain author or book was banned or not. With the opening of the Archive of the Congregation of Faith (the former Roman Inquisition) in 1998 a vast number of manuscripts became available that provided an insight into the internals of the Roman Congregation of the Index (founded in 1572) and the decision making processes of the censors. These processes are particularly interesting for books that were not totally banned but expurged, meaning that the censors deleted or modified passages considered “heretical” and then reprinted the book. In many cases, the only way to find out what they actually changed is to compare the original with the expurged edition line by line and word by word. Because Rome was by far not the only Catholic authority that expurged books, the same book was sometimes also expurged by the Spanish Inquisition, the Sorbonne in Paris and other local inquisitors. They all had their own censoring procedures resulting in different expurgations. If we want to uncover the differences between these expurgations, we have to repeat the tedious manual comparison over and over again. These repetitive comparisons are exactly the kind of “boring stuff” that could be automated with Python. „Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode I: OCR with Latin prints“ weiterlesen
Recently, I have more extensively explored serious games for teaching and research communication in the humanities. In a workshop aimed primarily at religious studies scholars, I intended to address analogue board games as well as hybrid and exclusively digital games. And apart from games I myself had used or contributed to, I hoped to present other examples in different languages. Especially in the field of hybrid and digital humanities games, however, my search retrieved few results. This post summarises the vivid discussion with participants that followed my invited talk “Seriously, games?” in the #digitalDonnerstag workshop series hosted by Arbeitskreis Mittelbau und Nachwuchs der Deutschen Vereinigung für Religionswissenschaft e.V. (AKMN). „Games for the humanities / religious studies – scarce or simply hard to find?“ weiterlesen
Ein Workshop zum Forschungsdatenmanagement ist derzeit zwar keine exotische Weiterbildung mehr, aber als fachspezifisches Angebot in der Geschichtswissenschaft weder üblich noch obligatorisch. Die Landschaft der Angebote zeigt trotzdem eine Vielzahl an engagierten Akteur:innen mit ausgewisesener Expertise. In Rahmen eines Expert:innenworkshops haben einige dieser Personen in einem gemeinsamen Erfahrungsaustausch Ideen und Impulse hinsichtlich der Formate, Themen und Zielgruppen entwickelt, nachvollzogen wie das Konzept erfolgreicher Angebote gestaltet ist und wie deren Zusammenführung weiterentwickelt werden könnte. Diese Ideen werden in diesem Beitrag ausgearbeitet und dokumentiert. „Differenzieren, Bündeln, Verstetigen – Weiterbildungskonzepte zum Forschungsdatenmanagement in der Geschichtswissenschaft“ weiterlesen
Before digital humanists can do things with data, they first need to collect them, and web automation (or more specific methods of web scraping) can be a quick way of gathering a large amount of data. While web automation denotes every remotely controlled action performed on the web, web scraping, web mining or web harvesting are focussed on reading and processing information (found on websites). This blog post presents useful Python packages for these tasks and explains the advantages of working with browser profiles. „Doing Digital History with Python IV: web automation“ weiterlesen
Since I started my project on the schism in the Catholic Church in the eighteenth-century Dutch Republic in the summer of 2019, I have been creating a dataset that comprises the information contained in lists of baptisms, burials, and marriages. This information enables me to trace the movement of Catholics to another, competing Catholic Church in the context of the schism. Consider, for example, Henricus Verbruggen and Maria Blomevelt. They baptised their first two children in a mission station that was part of the Church of Utrecht but had their third and last child baptised in the Roman Catholic Church (see Fig. 1). „Dealing with uncertainty and capturing the underrepresented“ weiterlesen