Classical Philology goes digital (Potsdam, February 16-17, 2017)

April 20th, 2016 by Gabriel Bodard

Classical Philology goes digital. Working on textual phenomena of ancient texts

University of Potsdam, February 16-17, 2017

Digital technologies continue to change our daily lives, including the way scholars work. As a result, the Classics are currently also subject to constant change. Having established itself as an important field in the scientific landscape, Digital Humanities (DH) research provides a number of new possibilities to scholars who deal with analyses and interpretations of ancient works. Greek and Latin texts become digitally available and searchable (editing, encoding), they can be analyzed to find certain structures (text-mining), and they can also be provided with metadata (annotation, linking, textual alignment), e.g. according to traditional commentaries to explain terms, vocabulary or syntactic relationships (in particular tree-banking) for intra- and intertextual linking as well as for connections with research literature. Therefore, an important keyword in this is ‘networking,’ because there is so much potential for Classical Philology to collaborate with the Digital Humanities in creating useful tools for textual work, that a clear overview is difficult to obtain. Moreover, this scientific interest is by no means unilateral: Collaboration is very important for Digital Humanities as a way of (further) developing and testing digital methods.

This is exactly where the proposed workshop comes in: representing several academic disciplines and institutions, scholars will come together to talk about their projects. We have invited Digital Humanists to the discussion who have experience pertaining to special issues in Classical Philology and can present the methods and potentials of their research (including the AvH Chair of DH / Leipzig, the CCeH, the DAI and Dariah-DE). In order to enable intensive and efficient work involving the various ideas and projects, the workshop is aimed at philologists whose research interests focus on certain phenomena of ancient texts, e.g. similes or quotations, and who want to examine more closely how such phenomena are presented and used, including questions of intertextuality and text-reuse. The aim of extracting and annotating textual data as similes poses the same type of practical philological problems for Classicists. Therefore, the workshop provides insight in two main ways: First, in an introductory theoretical section, DH experts will present keynote lectures on specific topics such as encoding, annotating, linking and text-mining; second, the focus of the workshop will be to discuss project ideas with DH experts, to explore and explain possibilities for digital implementation, and ideally to offer a platform for potential cooperation. The focus is explicitly on working together to explore ideas and challenges, based also on concrete practical examples. This main section will be divided into two sessions based on methods from the Digital Humanities; according to their main focus, projects will be assigned to one of the following groups: 1. producing digital data: computational analysis of ancient texts, detecting textual elements; and 2. commenting on texts: annotation and linking. It is entirely possible that some themes will be more or less important for the different research goals.

The keynotes and project presentations will be classified into the following sessions:

I. DH keynote speaker
The workshop begins with keynotes held by invited DH specialists who have expertise in the special issues of Digital Classics. The aim of these lectures is to describe possibilities for implementing information technology for philological purposes, taking into account the specific challenges of ancient texts, their conditions and transmission. By demonstrating best-practice examples, the speakers will provide initial ideas as to what is useful and possible. This session serves as an introduction to the two following sessions that are focused on the discussion of specific projects.

II. Project presentations
1) Producing digital data: computational analysis of ancient texts, detecting textual elements. Projects within Session 1 will mainly deal with the question of how specific textual elements that have a more or less fixed structure in a text may be systematically detected: How might the conventional readings of texts and the manual search in various textual resources be combined with automated analyses? How might text-mining and natural language processing techniques be used to supplement a reading? The DH experts will provide insight into such topics as the possibilities of named entity recognition and collections of textual elements in semantically linked datasets that leverage formal ontologies. Networking with already existing resources for ancient texts as well as with similar current projects will be discussed. Questions relating to editing a text, especially to how a text can be presented and preserved for online research, may briefly be mentioned. However, the main focus here is on the extraction of information.
2) Commenting on texts: annotation and linking Session 2 includes projects that focus on providing a text with metadata. How might the different parts of a textual element, e.g. specific terms and the syntactic or semantic sentence structure, be explained by annotation? Which open standards for annotating a text may be wisely used? What kind of linking is possible, not only with the primary source text, but also with research literature and lexical entities, for instance? Participants will also talk about how the resulting resources could be used as real research tools for users, e.g. for a comprehensive search of particular terms.

The presentations will be given in German or English, as well as the discussions. Addressing this specific interest in textual philology, the searched projects should deal with certain types of textual elements that have a more or less fixed structure, e.g. figurative language, quotations or special terms. The purpose should be to analyze texts focusing on these forms and to annotate and align passages. The discussions, therefore, will address how to extract and annotate data, i.e. how to work with them in a digital environment. The Classical Philology department at the University of Potsdam is very well equipped for this kind of joint project. The presentations should not exceed 15 minutes. As the focus of the workshop is on the following discussion, 30 minutes are scheduled for collaborative exchange after each lecture. Contributions should be submitted by May 15th, 2016, in the form of a short abstract (max. 300 words) along with a brief biography. Digital Humanists are also invited to submit further proposals for lectures in the DH section, which should not exceed 30 minutes in length.

The workshop will take place at the University of Potsdam from February 16th to 17th, 2017.

Important dates:
15/05/16 deadline for abstracts
30/05/16 notification of authors
16-17/02/17 workshop in Potsdam

Dr. Karen Blaschka, Klassische Philologie, Universität Potsdam
Dr. Monica Berti, AvH Chair of DH, Universität Leipzig

Dr. Karen Blaschka
Klassische Philologie
Universität Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam

Dr. Monica Berti
Alexander von Humboldt-Lehrstuhl für Digital Humanities
Institut für Informatik
Universität Leipzig
Augustusplatz 10
04109 Leipzig

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