Week One: The Digital Corpus for Early Modernists

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Day 1: Monday, 8 July 2013

Welcome and Introductions

Morning (9:30 to 11:30): Orientation to the Folger Shakespeare Library including reader registration, an introduction to the rules and regulations of the Reading Room, a tour of the Library, and a brief orientation to the Folger Library’s online catalogue, Hamnet. Participants will confer with the summer institute’s Technical Assistant to configure wireless password protocols on their personal laptops.

Lunch (11:30 to 1:00): Director Jonathan Hope (Professor of Literary Linguistics, University of Strathclyde) and participants convene at an introductory lunch.

Afternoon (1:00 to 3:00): Professor Hope and the participants begin building a supportive scholarly community and set the intellectual tone for the program. Professor Hope will divide participants into four sub-groups of five each for introductions, and each group will meet separately for 40 minutes. In the sub-groups, each participant will take 5 minutes to describe: (1) their three ‘greatest hits’ in research; and (2) the DH research problem they have brought to EMDA and for which they will develop a solution, visualization, guided approach, or list of resources over the course of the coming weeks. The whole group will then reconvene and each person will introduce (in no more than three minutes) the work and research project of another member of their sub-group. Professor Hope will also outline plans for the digital footprint of the Institute: live tweeting of presentations and discussions; private wiki-sites to record ongoing work and allow sharing between participants; and a public website to present the participants’ work that will serve as an ongoing hub for DH work in early modern studies.

Post-Tea (3:30 to 4:30): Professor Hope will lead discussion of the first set of assigned texts. There are many collections of essays introducing, surveying, and championing Digital Humanities. Most of these are freely available on the web, and participants may find it useful to scan through the contents lists: in particular the two early Blackwells anthologies (see ‘background reading’) provide good introductions to specific fields you may need to know about. Some of the later anthologies suffer from the twin evils of much DH debate: self-congratulation and endless circular navel-gazing. In our discussion this afternoon, we will therefore focus on Matthew Jockers’ recently published Macroanalysis, the early chapters of which provide a trenchant overview of DH. We will pair this work with artist Grayson Perry’s set of six tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences.

Day 2: Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Theoretical Discussions on the History and Culture of Technology and Human Interaction

Morning (9:30 to 11:30): Professor Jonathan Sawday (Saint Louis University) guides discussion of some key theoretical ideas associated with interactions between human beings and technologies. The purpose of this session is to help us to frame some of our specific work in the Digital Humanities within a wider cultural discussion of what Heidegger (in a famous 1954 essay) termed “The question concerning Technology” (Die Frage nach der Technik) – an essay which was itself originally termed (simply) “The Framework.” Although we shall not be discussing Heidegger’s essay directly in the session, those unfamiliar with this notoriously difficult piece can find an electronic version here:

Lunch Break (11:30 to 1:00)

Afternoon (1:00 to 3:00): Professor Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (Brown University) will examine the importance of networking technologies to the scholarly imaginary and vice versa. Professor Chun will help the participants think through the ways in which the conceptual power of networks stems from their alleged ability to bridge unbridgeable scales: the micro and the macro, the molecular and the molar. Throughout preceding discussions, participants will relate these issues to the larger aims of the institute. They will focus on the allure of technology, the dangers of uncritical approaches to it, and the extent to which researchers need to take ethical responsibility for the tools and protocols they employ.

Post-Tea (3:30 to 4:30): Exercises will be assigned introducing the most widely used digital corpus in early modern English studies, Early English Books Online (EEBO). Participants will be given a range of tasks, depending on their familiarity with the resource. They should make notes about aspects of EEBO they find unusual or surprising, and prepare to discuss how intuitive and user-friendly the interface is.

Day 3: Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Digital Books: Working with Early English Books Online

Morning (9:30 to 11:30): Professor Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University) and two Folger librarians, Goran Proot (Mellon Curator of Rare Books) and Deborah J. Leslie (Senior English Rare Book Cataloguer), join the institute to discuss the scope and organizing principles of online catalogues like the Folger’s Hamnet and online bibliographies like the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), whose catalogue data provides the underlying parameters for EEBO. The ESTC is a comprehensive, international union catalogue, listing some 470,000 catalogue entries for letter-press books, serials, newspapers, and selected ephemera printed before 1801 in Britain, Ireland, overseas territories under British colonial rule, and the United States.

Through the example of the ESTC, participants will learn the “logic” of the online catalogue: the ESTC has enhanced scholarly access to the metadata produced by cataloguers and provides a multitude of new ways to search for relevant texts and to distinguish between editions and even individual copies. Discussion on the principles of Short-Title Catalogues will examine those aspects of early modern print culture that digital resources such as EEBO do not adequately capture. The difficulties of reliably searching for printer and publisher information, publication dates, and other elements of imprint data via ESTC and EEBO will be considered, and some possible solutions will be offered.

Goran Proot will raise some quantitative questions with a statistical analysis of how representative the existing corpus of early English titles is. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss with the presenters how the migration of catalogues and bibliographies online modifies the nature of scholarly research.

Lunch Break (11:30 to 1:00)

Afternoon (1:00 to 3:00): Professor Gadd leads discussion of EEBO as a search tool, drawing on the previous day’s assignment and the participants’ own prior experiences with EEBO. Discussion will focus on EEBO’s “boundaries” as a data-set, and its strengths and weaknesses as a research tool.

Post-Tea (3:30 to 4:30): Participants will complete in-session assignments focusing on the relationship between ESTC and EEBO, and will discuss their findings. Participants will also locate EEBO examples for which there is a Folger copy available in preparation for the following morning’s session in the reading room.

Day 4: Thursday, 11 July 2013

Digital Pictures: Facsimiles and Remediation in Early English Books Online

Morning (8:45 to 11:30): In the Folger Reading Room, participants compare the EEBO version of a selected book with originals paged from the Folger collections and note interesting discrepancies. This will lay the groundwork for the afternoon’s discussion on “remediation.”

Lunch Break (11:30 to 1:00)

Afternoon (1:00 to 3:00): Professor Gadd discusses these EEBO-to-original comparisons with participants. He will demonstrate the different ways in which EEBO presents and characterizes the images it shows. The history of these images from microfilm to digitized image will be explained. The considerable variation in procedures and techniques will be demonstrated through examples from EEBO.

Digital words: EEBO-TCP

Post-Tea (3:30 to 4:30): Professor Gadd discusses the Text-Creation Partnership aspect of EEBO, by which a growing proportion of EEBO’s books are available by institutional subscription in manually keyed, full-text, searchable form. Following his presentation, participants will break into sub-groups to find examples and discuss applications of EEBO-TCP for research and classroom use.

Day 5: Friday, 12 July 2013

Morning (9:30 to 11:30): Professor Gadd leads discussion drawing on the sub-groups’ findings from the previous session. A summary discussion follows on applications and consequences of using EEBO-TCP as a research tool. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss with Professor Gadd what they learned during the first week and pose questions to each other about larger issues involving digital facsimiles and the current possibilities for searching them.

Lunch Break (11:30 to 1:00)

Beyond EEBO-TCP: Using large, well-structured corpora to study a wide range of linguistic and cultural changes in English

Afternoon (1:00 to 3:00): Professor Mark Davies (Brigham Young University) will provide a hands-on demonstration of three large corpora of Early Modern and Late Modern English: the 400 million word Corpus of Historical American English (COHA), the 155 billion word (BYU/Advanced) Google Books Corpus, and an “alpha” version of a 400 million word EEBO Corpus. The two main questions we will consider are: 1. How can large historical corpora provide insight into language change (e.g. lexical, syntactic, semantic), as well as changes in society and culture? 2. What are some of the challenges and limitations in using data from large historical corpora?

Post-Tea (3:30 to 4:30): Discussion continues. At its conclusion, readings for Week 2 will be distributed, assignments outlined, and the Technical Assistant will support the installation of Week 2 software on personal laptops as needed.