History seminars at the IHR

Digital History

Convenors: Seth Denbo (American Historical Association), Matthew Phillpott (IHR), Richard Deswarte (UEA), Beth Hartland (KCL), Tim Hitchcock (Sussex), Peter Webster (British Library), Charlotte Tupman (KCL), and James Baker (British Library), Adam Crymble (Hertfordshire)

For information and enquiries, please contact: Matt Phillpott on: matt.phillpott@sas.ac.uk

Venue: John S Cohen Room 203, 2nd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House

Time: Tuesdays, 5.15 pm

Seminars are normally streamed live online. See the seminar blog for info. To keep in touch, follow us on Twitter (@IHRDigHist) or at the hashtag #dhist.

Some podcasts from this seminar are available online

Autumn Term 2014
DateSeminar details
7 October Introducing Paper Machines

Jo Guldi (Brown University)

Historians of the twentieth century have to contend with a technological problem, the issue of archives too large to process by traditional methods.  While textual encoding, tagging, and n-grams can reveal certain patterns in digital archives, topic modeling and topic frequency, applied to hand-tailored archives, can help the historian make informed decisions about where in an archive to start looking.  Digital methods, in this way, are driving historians to longer and longer time scales, making it possible for even younger scholars to perform a 'distant reading' on big questions that range over nations and centuries.  The talk will follow parts of the argument of The History Manifesto (2014), comparing how a historian's search for periodization, agency, and causality in the data compare with use and abuse of digital data in other digital fields.

Jo Guldi is author of Roads to Power (2012), What is the Spatial Turn? (2012), The History Manifesto (2014), and the digital toolkit Paper Machines (2012).  She is Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of Modern Britain and its Empire at Brown University.  Her next project, The Long Land War, examines a century and a half of movements for land and water around the globe.

4 November Interrogating the archived UK web: Historians and Social Scientists Research Experiences

Dr Gareth Millward is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  He has research interests in disability and government policy, and more recently notions of the ‘public’ in British vaccination programmes.  For the BUDDAH project he is researching disabled people and the Web. 

Richard Deswarte is a Lecturer in Modern European History at UEA with research interests in the European idea and integration, as well as Digital Humanities.  On the BUDDAH project he is examining the presence and rise of Euroscepticism. 

Dr Peter Webster is currently the British Library lead on the BUDDAH project and Web Archiving Engagement and Liaison Officer at the BL.  Alongside scholarly interests in Web Archiving and Digital Humanities, Peter researches on the history of religion, the Anglican Church and the relation between church, law and state in 19th and 20th century Britain.

The emergence of the WWW has been one of the most profound and influential phenomena of the last twenty years.  One of the dominant features of the WWW is its changing nature both in terms of content and its technological underpinnings.  The content of the WWW is an immense resource full of potential for academic researchers both in its current state and in its previous constantly changing forms.  Over the last decade, in particular, archives of WWW materials have been emerging.  These archives are still very much in a nascent form but are beginning to be made available and to be utiltised by a range of scholars.  The UK Web Archive hosted by the British Library is at the forefront of trawling and making available for researchers archived versions of the UK WWW dating back to the 1990s.  It is currently engaged jointly with the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) in the ‘Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities Project’ (BUDDAH) where a new research interface is being developed in conjunction with a number of humanities scholars who are at the same time exploring the UK Web Archive to identify its strengths and weaknesses for academic research.  Peter Webster will introduce Web Archiving, the BUDDAH project and the new research interface, while Gareth Millward and Richard Deswarte will relate their experiences in using the resource to research respectively the history of disabled people and accessibility on the WWW, and Euroscepticism.

18 November Citizen History and its discontents

Mia Ridge (Open University)

An increasing number of crowdsourcing projects are making claims about 'citizen history' - but are they really helping people become historians, or are they overstating their contribution? Can citizen history projects succeed without communities of experts and peers to nurture sparks of historical curiosity and support novice historians in learning the skills of the discipline? Through a series of case studies this paper offers a critical examination of claims around citizen history.

26 November Mapping Eighteenth-Century Tourism in the English Lakes

Ian Gregory and Chris Donaldson (Lancaster)

Joint session with British History in the Long-Eighteenth Century seminar

Please note: this session takes place in the Wolfson Room NB01, Basement, IHR, North block, Senate House


Spring Term 2015
DateSeminar details
24 February Trees and Tweets Project (Title TBC)

Jack Grieve (Aston)

10 March The Lost Visions Project (Title TBC)

Julie Thomas (Cardiff)

24 March Mining the History of Medicine Project (Title TBC)

Sophia Ananiadou (Manchester University)

Summer Term 2015
DateSeminar details
12 May A Pilot Historical Thesaurus of Scots (Title TBC)

Susan Rennie (Glasgow)

26 May SketchUp Project (Title TBC)

Matthew Nicholls (Reading)

9 June A Big Data History of Music Project (title TBC)

Stephen Rose (RHUL)

23 June ChartEX Traces Through Time (title TBC)

Sarah Rees-Jones (York) and Sonja Ranade (The National Archives)

This is a joint session with the Archives and Society seminar