Franco-German workshop series on the historical illustrated press

I wrote a blog post on the Franco-German conference and workshop series I am co-organizing with Claire Aslangul (University Paris-Sorbonne) and Bérénice Zunino (University of Franche-Comté). The three events planned revolve around the same topic: the illustrated press in France and Germany from the end of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century, drawing from disciplinary fields as diverse as visual history and computational linguistics. A first workshop will take place in Besançon in April, then a larger conference will be hosted by the Maison Heinrich Heine in Paris at the end of 2018, and finally a workshop focusing on methodological issues will take place at the Berlin-Breandenburg Academy of Sciences next year in autumn.

For more information, see this description in German.

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Distant reading and text visualization

A new paradigm in “digital humanities” – you know, that Silicon Valley of textual studies geared towards neoliberal narrowing of research (highly provocative but interesting read nonetheless)… A new paradigm resides in the belief that understanding language (e.g. literature) is not accomplished by studying individual texts, but by aggregating and analyzing massive amounts of data (Jockers 2013). Because it is impossible for individuals to “read” everything in a large corpus, advocates of distant reading employ computational techniques to “mine” the texts for significant patterns and then use statistical analysis to make statements about those patterns (Wulfman 2014).

One of the first attempts to apply visualization techniques to texts has been the “shape of Shakespeare” by Rohrer (1998). Clustering methods were used to let set emerge among textual data as well as metadata, not only in humanities but also in the case of Web genres (Bretan, Dewe, Hallberg, Wolkert, & Karlgren, 1998). It may seem rudimentary by today’s standards or far from being a sophisticated “view” on literature but the “distant reading” approach is precisely about seeing the texts in another perspective and exploring the corpus interactively. Other examples of text mining approaches enriching visualization techniques include the document atlas of ...

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Foucault and the spatial turn

I would like to share a crucial text by Michel Foucault which I discovered through a recent article by Marko Juvan on geographical information systems (GIS) and literary analysis:

  • Juvan, Marko (2015). From Spatial Turn to GIS-Mapping of Literary Cultures. European Review, 23(1), pp. 81-96.
  • Foucault, Michel (1984). Des espaces autres. Hétérotopies. Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, 5, pp. 46-49. Originally: Conférence au Cercle d’études architecturales, 14 mars 1967.

The full text including the translation I am quoting from is available on foucault.info. It is available somewhere in Dits et écrits in paper form. If am understand correctly, the translation is from Jay Miskowiec (see this website). It is an absolute bootleg, since it is originally from a lecture and has not been officially planned for publication. Still, Foucault’s prose is as usual really dense and there is much to learn from it. In the course of time, it has become a central text of the so-called “spatial turn”, which has admittedly been introduced by Foucault and Lefebvre in the 1960s and 70s.

In the opening of the text, comparing the 20th with the 19th century, Foucault comes to the idea that our time is one of ...

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