[Humanist] 27.876 pubs: on palaeographical method; Illinois newspapers

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Mar 13 07:55:20 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 876.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (52)
        Subject: palaeographical method

  [2]   From:    "Parker, Erica Mallory" <eparker2 at illinois.edu>           (13)
        Subject: Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections

        Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 14:07:10 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: palaeographical method

Peter A. Stokes, English Vernacular Minuscule from AEthelred to Cnut c. 
990 -- c. 1035 (Brewer, 2014).

This is not a book on digital humanities, but many here, I expect, will 
want to take a look for its reflections on method. I quote here from the 
first paragraph of the Introduction:

> The early twenty-first century has seen some substantial new
> developments in the field of palaeography. These have come about
> largely through the convergence of two different but related changes:
> on the one hand, widespread access to digital images of manuscripts
> and computers powerful enough to process them, and on the other hand
> revived interest in the long-standing discussion of 'scientific'
> method versus connoisseurship in palaeographical study. To summarise
> this briefly, it has long been debated whether palaeography can (or
> should) be scientific, namely based as much as possible on concrete
> evidence and quantitative criteria, or if instead it should (or can
> only) be based on the judgement of experts. One response to this
> pressure for more 'objective' or 'scientific' methods has been to
> turn to digital methods, particularly the automated processing of
> digital images to identify scribal hands, but at the time of writing
> this approach is yet to bear convincing fruit, and identifying
> scribes is a very different problem from writing a history of script.
> Although image processing may not yet be helpful in writing the
> history of a script, it does not necessarily follow that digital
> approaches should be dismissed, and although they are not explicitly
> part of this book, it will become clear to the reader that the book
> could not have been written without them. Specifically, this study
> has taken some aspects of what is now referred to as a 'big data' or
> 'distant reading' approach. Associated most closely with Franco
> Moretti, distant reading was initially applied to literature in
> deliberate contrast to the 'close reading' of I. A. Richards and the
> New Critics. To summarise somewhat crudely, Moretti's principle is
> to analyse large quantities of text using statistics, graphs and
> other visualisations in order to identify large-scale trends rather
> than the small minutiae of '‘close reading'; inaccuracies in
> individual pieces of data should, in principle, have little impact on
> the overall result if the sample size is sufficiently large. Literary
> criticism is some distance from palaeography, and a pure 'distant
> reading' approach for the latter is not appropriate, not least
> because the quantity of surviving material for the early medieval
> period is not large enough, and because it is not yet clear how
> palaeographical data should best be quantified. Nevertheless some of
> the principles of distant reading can usefully be transferred to
> palaeography.

Dr Stokes is Senior Lecturer, Department of Digital Humanities, King's 
College London.


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney

        Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 16:25:08 +0000
        From: "Parker, Erica Mallory" <eparker2 at illinois.edu>
        Subject: Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections

Hello All,

I'm the coordinator for a new digital newspaper website that might be of interest to some members in this group: the Illlinois Digital Newspaper Collections, http://idnc.library.illinois.edu

The IDNC website is a free online archive of digitized newspaper content from the University of Illinois Library. There are 41 titles and over 900,000 pages of historic newspapers and trade journals available. Users can clip articles, correct transcribed (OCR) text, tag items, and share articles on social media. Powered by Veridian Digital Library software, IDNC offers a modern and user-friendly way to engage with the past.

Please follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook/idncnews) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/idncnews) for more info, as well as collection highlights.


Erica Parker

+ MS Candidate
Graduate School of Library & Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

+ Veridian Implementation Coordinator
History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library
University Library

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