Editors’ Choice: Rethinking the Republic of Letters – Two Perspectives on the Early Modern Learned Community
Early modern scholars oftentimes emphasised the ideal of sharing knowledge beyond confessional and national borders. But was the learned community of early modern Europe truly as open and accessible as these intellectuals proclaimed? Or did the Republic of Letters in action perhaps comprise a number of “sub-republics” divided along the lines of religion, discipline, region, and/or gender? And how did one enter the Republic of Letters in the first place? Raising these questions and others, SKILLNET, an ERC project based at Utrecht University, aims to historicise the early modern European knowledge society.
In this blog, we, two recent SKILLNET PhDs, present two different, yet complementary historical approaches to the Republic of Letters. Manuel Llano first introduces his large-scale research on scholarly networks. Next, Koen Scholten elaborates on community formation in the Republic of Letters, focusing on the experience and representation of the Republic of Letters by the Dutch seventeenth-century scholar Joannes Kool (1672–1712). We briefly conclude with an assessment of the virtue of combining historical network analysis and close-reading of ego-documents.
The Correspondence Networks of the Republic of Letters
The name of the Republic of Letters can be somewhat misleading: in the original Latin, there is a clear distinction between letters (litterae), referring to the realm of learning as a whole, and letters in the sense of written messages (epistolae). Thus the original actor’s term ‘Respublica litteraria” refers in principle strictly to the first meaning, and it is better understood as a commons of learning, not as a society of correspondents. Only when the expression was translated to certain vernaculars the distinction became blurry: both senses are conveyed by the same word in French (lettres) and English (letters), but are different, for instance, in Dutch (letteren/brieven) and Spanish (letras/cartas).
From the CFP:
The main topic of the AIUCD 2019 Conference is ‘Pedagogy, teaching, and research in the age of Digital Humanities’. The conference aims at reflecting on the new possibilities that the digital yields for pedagogy, teaching, and scholarly research: how will these transform teaching in the humanities? What contributions can humanistic cultural critique offer to the digital revolution? What is the connection with the digitization plan for Universities outlined by the Ministry? It also concerns the Digital Humanities as a new discipline, and this brings forward further considerations: how can the new professional figure of the digital humanist be developed? Which areas of knowledge define the Digital Humanities as a subject of study, research, and teaching? How can we recognise, classify, describe, and evaluate research efforts in the Digital Humanities?
From the CFP:
The fourth Utah Symposium on the Digital Humanities continues conversations that have taken place at earlier DHU conferences. It enables scholars in Utah and neighboring regions to dwell further on issues that are of concern to the digital humanities.
DHU4 explores the links and intersections which join humans, machines, and disparate vocational cultures. These links are central to Utah’s own history. In 1861, in Salt Lake City, Western Union linked together the nation with the transcontinental telegraph. In 1869, the “golden spike” joined the two halves of the transcontinental railroad. A century later, in 1969, the University of Utah became the fourth node or intersection of the Arpanet. For the anniversary year of 2019, in conjunction with the second annual Lingofest conference, we aim to expand, deepen, and examine the connections between people who work in, and reflect on, the digital culture that has emerged in concert with these networks.
From the ad:
The Pennsylvania State University, Department of History invites applications for a tenured or tenure-track position in digital history with a specialization in any field. The appointment will be made at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor, depending upon qualifications, and will begin in August 2019. The successful applicant should be able to: demonstrate an active research agenda that engages digital humanities methodologies; enhance the graduate and undergraduate curricula; contribute immediately to both graduate and undergraduate teaching in the department; and help to launch and participate in Penn State’s new Digital Humanities minor in the College of the Liberal Arts. The candidate must have a Ph.D. in hand at the time of application. Prospective candidates should submit a curriculum vitae, a letter of application that describes current and future research, evidence of teaching effectiveness, evidence of digital history scholarship, and the names and contact information of three references. Applications may also include up to three offprints or unpublished papers or chapters. Review of applications will begin on December 1, 2018 and continue until the position is filled.
From the ad:
The TLC and GCDI seek two Open Educational Technology Specialists who will work on programming related to CUNY’s institutional investment in Open Educational Resources (OER). Beginning in 2017 and continuing into the upcoming academic year, New York State has made significant investments in supporting the development, deployment, and integration of OER across the curriculum, saving CUNY students more than $8m in the first year of the initiative alone.
CUNY faculty have expressed desire to host OER and to stage student engagement with them on CUNY-built and maintained platforms. Two such platforms are supported at The Graduate Center: the CUNY Academic Commons (CAC) and Manifold Scholarship. The Open Educational Technology Specialists will support faculty and staff from across CUNY who are doing OER-related work on these platforms.
Editors’ Choice: Recognizing Women Historians’ Expertise – An Interview with the Co-Founders of Women Also Know History
Interview by Marilou Tanguay, Florence Prévost-Grégoire and Catherine Larochelle with Emily Prifogle and Karin Wulf, two of the co-founders of Women Also Know History. This interview was originally published in French on HistoireEngagee.ca.
Last June, the historians behind the Twitter account and the hashtag #womenalsoknowhistory launched a website aimed at increasing the dissemination and use of the expertise and publications of women historians. The initiative, conceived as a way of countering the gender bias of historical discipline, is aimed at both history practitioners and journalists wishing to interview experts in the field. Since the launch of their website, almost 3,000 historians have created a profile.
As Quebecois historians working in Canada and Europe, we learned about this initiative through Twitter. The issues surrounding women’s place in academia have preoccupied us for a couple of years. Over the past few months we have begun to more intentionally investigate these questions. At HistoireEngagée.ca we have a series named “Où sont les femmes?” (“Where are the women?”) aimed at addressing links between women, the discipline of history and the narratives it produces. The launch of Women Also Know History was a key moment for us to reflect on these issues.
To learn more about this project, which is still little-known in Quebec and in the French-speaking world, we interviewed two of the co-founders, Emily Prifogle and Karin Wulf, about its beginnings, its impacts and their hopes for how this database will work to eliminate sexist bias in the practice and dissemination of history.
When and why did you get the idea for this database? What was the intention behind this initiative?
Emily Prifogle: The idea for the database comes from the Women Also Know Stuff initiative created by women in political science. It inspired us to create something similar for historians in 2017. From the beginning, the overarching goal of the project has been to find concrete ways to promote and support the work of women historians as a way of addressing gender bias.
Karin Wulf: The idea originated in the evidence of ongoing gender bias in history—although there has been progress in this area the more obvious examples of “best book” lists and awards, keynotes, syllabi, the Barnes & Noble book tables—there are too many examples to list. And of course, there are many forms of bias and exclusion, but having seen the success of Women Also Know Stuff and talked with some of their founding group the time seemed right for a similar initiative for history.
From the ad:
Joining our Contemporary British Publications team, this role is an exciting opportunity to help the Library develop its ability to collect, manage and make available complex digital publications. The Library’s ‘Emerging Formats’ project is focused on UK publications created for the mobile web, as interactive narratives or in database format. This role will support the project in desk-based research on existing knowledge and capabilities; engaging with creators, libraries and users of complex digital publications; and in documenting the findings of the project.
From the ad:
The People Not Property project manager will coordinate digitization and transcription activities involving student workers, volunteers, and registers of deeds in 26 North Carolina counties, providing access to approximately 30,000 pages of slave deeds recorded in the state before 1865. People Not Property is a three-year project of the UNC Greensboro University Libraries, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives.
From the resource:
When teaching students how to clean data, it helps to have data that isn’t too clean already. salty is a new package that offers functions for “salting” clean data with problems often found in datasets in the wild, such as:
inconsistent capitalization and spelling
unpredictable punctuation in numeric fields
missing values or empty strings
From the report:
So, how can social science scholars and researchers take advantage of web archives?
Our Web Science and Digital Libraries (WS-DL) group at Old Dominion University (ODU) has been studying the challenges related to allowing researchers to create and share their own web archives for the past eight years. Our work is focused more on close reading of archived material than distant reading. For those interested in distant reading of web archives, the Archives Unleashed project, a collaboration between historians, librarians, and computer scientists, is developing excellent tools to enable researchers to perform large-scale analysis of web archives.
Announcement: Wikipedia Leads Effort to Create a Digital Archive of 20 Million Artifacts Lost in the Brazilian Museum Fire
From the announcement:
The staggering loss of a possible 20 million artifacts in the fire that consumed Brazil’s Museu Nacional in Rio boggles the mind—dinosaur fossils, the oldest human remains found in the country, and, as Emily Dreyfuss reports at Wired, “audio recordings and documents of indigenous languages. Many of those languages, already extinct, may now be lost forever.” Former Brazilian environment minister called the destruction of Latin America’s biggest natural history museum “a lobotomy of the Brazilian memory.”…
Sadly, as Dreyfuss points out, like many museums around the world, the Museu Nacional had not begun to back up its collection digitally. But it may not be entirely too late for that, in some small part at least. In an announcement last week, Wikipedia called for a post facto crowdsourced backup in the form of user-submitted photos.
From the ad:
The Modern Language Association (MLA) is seeking a full-stack PHP developer to extend and maintain several open-source software products. These include the WordPress-based MLA Commons, which includes The MLA Style Center and the MLA Action Network, as well as Humanities Commons and Humanities CORE, which allow humanities scholars to create profiles, seek feedback from peers on their work, establish and join groups to discuss common interests, and collaborate through new kinds of open-access publications. This is an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to an award-winning and active open-source project (see GitHub) and to help shape the strategic direction of the leading membership association in the humanities as we seek to expand the scope of our outreach and develop new ways to serve humanities scholars.
From the announcement:
This interdisciplinary project bridges digital humanities, history, and music by bringing historic sheet music back to life through digitization of sheet music, performance of each piece, and student research about each piece. The website makes all of these resources freely available for use by students, teachers, researchers, and public audiences under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC 4.0).
We recently put out a paper on how racial bias functions in Hollywood films. This work was based on a few studies that came before it, namely this one, from USC Annenberg. We presented numerical analyses like the number of characters in different racial and ethnic groups and the number of words spoken by these groups, as well as who occupied the top roles in these films. These numbers give us tangible measures of the visual aspects of these films, but they exclude the entire other half of film: dialogue. We wanted to take this research a step further from other studies, aiming to learn more about racial bias in casting and writing through an analytical study of the dialogue spoken by these characters, to analyze the actual “quality” of the language as a stand-in for the “quality” of a role, and to answer questions like, are people of colour being relegated to the same kinds of roles in the disproportionately few times that they do appear on screen?
This was, predictably, much more difficult to carry out than we had initially thought when we started out last summer.
Using text mining and computational methods, the goal of this aspect of the study was to distance ourselves from any kind of subjective, close interpretation of the dialogue. One way we were able to do this is laid out in the paper. We found that characters who’s racial or ethnic identity could be mapped to a corresponding geographical location (e.g., Latinx characters and Latin America) were more likely to reference cities and countries in that region than white characters were.
This was a relatively straightforward and objective measure. We tried to present it equally objectively and not pull any far-fetched analyses from it. We felt comfortable putting this into our paper without causing any controversy. But we wanted to do more, and try to see whether, on a measurable, linguistic level, people of colour are pigeon-holed in ways that their white counterparts are not.
From the ad:
Do you like to teach outside of the traditional confines of period focused classes? Are you interested in creating fresh, inventive courses that include community-based education or the digital humanities?
The Department of English Literature and Language, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, invites you to apply for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor beginning Fall 2019 in American Literature. Teaching responsibilities include courses in core literature, composition, and upper-division and master’s level courses. We are looking for someone conversant in digital pedagogies, project-based learning, and interdisciplinary interest in contributing to our Center for Catholic Studies.
From the ad:
Professor, Fiction Writing (Digital Humanities), tenure track, continuing, 9-month appointment, Department of English, SIU Carbondale.
Qualifications: Completed MFA in fiction, and/or PhD in Creative Writing (fiction). Candidates must have at least one published or accepted book of fiction, and must have experience teaching fiction writing classes, preferably at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Candidates must also show preparation to contribute, via teaching and/or creative activity, to an emerging program in digital humanities, broadly-defined: podcasts, VR narratives, game scripting, blogging, and/or other forms of online/digital publication.
From the ad:
The Department of Public & Applied Humanities at the University of Arizona is seeking a tenure-track Assistant Professor. The top candidate will be able to contribute expertise, leadership, and imagination to the department’s efforts to theorize and prefigure responses to the future of the human being.
Candidates should be highly collaborative, exploratory, and hardworking, with a humanities-oriented research specialization in one or more of the following areas: the environment (natural or built), fabrication (material, biological, electronic), health (cellular, systemic, societal), technology (digital, analog, biological), or storytelling (place-based and/or digital). Experience with and an understanding of international and/or foreign language content creation, or Indigenous/First Nations/Native lifeways will be of particular interest given the Department’s institutional and geographic location.
About the resource:
Similar to how Google Scholar works, Dataset Search lets you find datasets wherever they’re hosted, whether it’s a publisher’s site, a digital library, or an author’s personal web page. To create Dataset search, we developed guidelines for dataset providers to describe their data in a way that Google (and other search engines) can better understand the content of their pages. These guidelines include salient information about datasets: who created the dataset, when it was published, how the data was collected, what the terms are for using the data, etc. We then collect and link this information, analyze where different versions of the same dataset might be, and find publications that may be describing or discussing the dataset.
From the CFP:
The inaugural Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) conference will take place in Pittsburgh, PA, July 23-26, 2019 at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center…
ACH is the United States-based constituent organization in the Alliance for Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). The ACH 2019 conference, in partnership with Keystone DH, provides a forum for conversations on an expansive definition of digital humanities in a broad array of subject areas, methods, and communities of practice.
From the ad:
The English Department at Temple University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in literature specializing in any method of digital humanities research, broadly conceived. The position is open to applicants in any literary field from the nineteenth century to the present, including global, British, and American literatures. Teaching responsibilities include a 2/2 load with a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses.