Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Gates of Hell - Guest Lecture Würzburg, 13 December 2012

Recently, I stumbled across a documentary about Auguste Rodin's monumental sculpture La porte de l'Enfer, and decided I could use The Gates of Hell as a metaphor in telling the history of the use of computing in the Humanities and the transfer from Humanities Computing to Digital Humanities as a name for the field. This coincided with my attempts to find an angle for a guest lecture I was invited to give at the Lehrstuhl für Computerphilologie und Neuere Deutsche Literaturgeschichte of the Julius-Maximilians Universität Würzburg (Germany) on 13 December. My last visit to Würzburg as a keynote speaker to the 2011 Annual Conference and Members' Meeting of the TEI Consortium (12 October 2012) had been very enjoyable indeed, but bringing in chocolates again would be pushing it a bit. Moreover, I was not lecturing in the prestigious Würzburg Rezidens, but at the evenly prestigious University of Würzburg, where I met a very attentive audience of students of Digital Humanities.

As it goes with guest lectures, at least in my case, the eventual contents of the lecture hardly ever reflects the title which was communicated way before putting together the lecture. When I sent my title to Armin Volkmann, who invited me to teach in his course, Text and Image based Digital Humanities: providing access to textual heritage in Flanders seemed a good title. However, when I discovered the story behind Rodin's Gates of Hell I changed my mind and elaborated on the metaphor to talk about the history and definition of literary and linguistic computing, Humanities Computing, and Digital Humanities. In order to relate to the previously communicated title, I divided the lecture in two parts:

1. History of the use of computing in the Humanities



  • Part 1:
  • Part 2:
  • Part 3:
  • Part 4:

2. Demonstration of DH Projects from Flanders

In the second part, I demonstrated some of the projects we realized at the Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature (KANTL) in Flanders:

And one project of the Computational Linguistics& Psycholinguistics Research Centre (CLiPS) from the University of Antwerp:

Further work

Since I taught at Würzburg, I have elaborated on the metaphor and the themes addressed in the lecture for a forthcoming book chapter entitled: The Gates of Hell: Digital@Humanities@Computing


I would like to thank Armin Volkmann for the invitation to lecture in his course, and especially Mareike Laue who took care of all the practical arrangements and who did a wonderful job filming and editing the lecture.