June 2, 2013
I guess everybody who decided at some point in his academic life to deal with the new technologies and to explore the options the fields of Digital Humanities may offer for one’s research topic has also given some thoughts to the question of what kind of recognition this choice will bring him/her among his/her fellow-researches.
Often, however, the additional dimensions Digital Humanities introduce in a research field are seen with some suspicions. They seem to drag the researcher away from the main subject, as the new tools provided by the Digital Humanities have to be mastered, up to some point at least. Further, as digital projects tent to be collaborative works, with new work-flows and shared responsibilities for the release of the results, they also challenge a more traditional view of the evaluation of a researcher’s contribution.
Now several institutions and funding bodies are discussing this issue and how they could adapt the present situation for the evaluation of such digital projects. Here is the programme and link to one of those events, held in Paris on the 10th and 11th June 2013.
- Research Conditions and Digital Humanities: What are the Prospects for the Next Generation?
- Link to the
- Link to
May 26, 2013
I have just come back from a workshop organised by Chris Blackwell and Neel Smith from the . They explained us their new tool, the Canonical Text Service, which allows to quote classical texts in a unambigous and machine-readable way which is moreover relying on, but independent from the traditional divisions of a given text. All these features are extremely helpful for the handling with fragments, especially if they are quotations as in the case of Demetrios.
Moreover, next week the second workshop of the will be held. It will be dedicated to fragments in a very broad sense and the presentations will, for instance, deal with quotations and how to render them in a collection of fragments as well as with physical fragments such as inscriptions. We will also look at different fields, such as Latin drama, the transmission of the New Testament, ancient scholarship and the collections of Protagoras’s fragments. Have a look at the !
May 6, 2013
Having just read through the last BMCR-list of new publications, I spotted up to six publications from the Hellenic Studies, the series from the Center for Hellenic Studies. Two of them are of particular interest for Homeric studies:
- Garcia, Lorenzo F., Jr. Homeric durability: telling time in the Iliad. Hellenic studies, 57. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, trustees for Harvard University, 2013.
- Tsagalis, Christos. From listeners to viewers: space in the Iliad. Hellenic studies, 53. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University, 2012.
April 23, 2013
The from KLC is organising a series of workshops this spring. They aim at disseminating the expertise and tools the scholars from the project have assembled among other scholars who are working on the relations between texts.
The first of these workshops is on the concept of metaphrasis and will be held on April the 30th (SawsandMetaphrasis: programme). The concept under discussion is a very interesting one, as its goal is to transpose a text or a passage from it from one linguistic register to another. This may even include translations, but is mainly concerned with the rephrasing of texts in another level of language.
It is therefore a form of reuse of the texts which lies in between others, sharing some elements of several of them, but has also its own peculiarities. For instance even if the relation to the first text is openly acknowledged, it is not a quotation which supposes as little changes as possible from the original text. Metaphrasis on the contrary is precisely based on the idea of changing the original work in a specific way. Neither does it have the authoritative aspect of quotations. The difference from paraphrases or summaries seems to be the fact the it allows such changes as translation, aims at creating a new work which stands for its own and is much more focused on the form rather than the content.
The two other SAWS-workshops will focus one on the concept of quotation and the other on ancient medicine. I will present them in due course.
April 8, 2013
The workshop, held at the in Berlin, focused on the methodological problems scholars face when trying to collect fragments. The examples were taken from the medical and philosophical tradition.
The presentations dealt therefore with authors like Alcmaeon (Stavros Kouloumentas), Menecrates (Giuseppe Squillace), Praxagoras (Orly Lewis), Servilius Damokrates (Sabine Vogt), Heraclitus (Glenn Most) and Xenophanes (Gérard Journée). Among the source-texts, Galen took a prominent position (Alessia Guardasole), but also other source-texts were discussed especially some from late Antiquity (David Leith).
Beyond the many interesting elements each presentation brought for its own topic, the aim of the event was to address once again some of the crucial questions about fragments and their presentation no matter which form of output one may choose for their publication.
I followed the discussion with much interest and would like to mention a few points where the discussion seemed to join the issues alluded to by scholars working in the field of Digital Humanities.
- First of all there is the weight given to the context in which a fragment is preserved. Since the fragments are, as long as they are quotations, pieces from one work preserved in the wording of another later text, it is important to understand the outline of the argumentation in which they are used in order to be able to decide how they have been preserved or to establish how close the wording may still be to the original work.
- The second concern which seems to be shared by any collector of fragments today, is the desire to achieve transparency in one’s editorial choices about a given text. In the field of Digital Humanities it is believed that the new approach one has to take when working with computers allows the scholars to express their choices more precisely and therefore more openly for their readers. The workshop showed that scholars having chosen a more conventional approach are driven by the same goal and this may therefore become a distinctive feature of any modern edition.
- Then also the thoughts about the audiences which may use a collection of fragments is something both groups of scholars share. The question comes along with much more insistence when thinking about an online release of one’s results, but nonetheless it is also present with other forms of publications.
- Further a very useful distinction has been made during the workshop between two approaches a scholar may take when doing his edition of fragments. On the one hand, one can focus on the side of the production and try to reconstruct what the author one is interested in may have written. On the other, it is also possible to highlight the reception of the author’s work and try to understand how he was read and transmitted in Antiquity.
- Finally I found it particularly interesting to get some insight into a completely different tradition of fragmentarily preserved texts and to compare it with the one to which Demetrios belongs and which is therefore most familiar to me. The balance between the difference and the similarities I saw during the presentations made me think that it may be very interesting to open up the approach and compare, from a much larger point of view, the different quoting methods in different fields.
March 28, 2013
There are several interesting conferences and workshops coming up this spring. Here is the Call for Papers for one of them :
The conference will be centred on the figure of the scribe and his role in transferring knowledge. It aims at shedding light on his activities by analysing the evidence left in the manuscripts. Moreover the organisers take an interestingly broad approach. They plan to include examples of scribal activities from all the pre-modern societies gathered around the Mediterranean Sea, so that a very broad and diversified picture of the scribes and their activities can be drawn.
Moreover the subject of this conference seems particularly timely to me, as it alludes to themes which are again more in the focus now, especially in connection with questions treated by scholars from the field of Digital Humanities. The questions are certainly not new and do not exclusively belong to the domain of Digital Humanities, but this discipline is particularly touched by the implications of the answers, which have been given since Antiquity, to these questions. Indeed when trying to establish a digital edition of an existing text, may it come from Antiquity or have been writing more recently, the process involved in all of the stages from writing a text to reading it, and even the text itself, has to be analysed in much detail and defined in a more open way to avoid implicit assumptions which are problematic for the computer. Therefore these questions seem to be at the core of some of the thoughts in Digital Humanities and give new impulses to scholars from other domains to think about the implicit interventions a text is subject to when it is written, copied, printed or read. Scribal activity is certainly one of the domains where many implicit interventions have been made and it is extremely interesting to see that more weight is now given to this part of the transmission.
For another comment on this event, see :
March 1, 2013
is a German initiative which addresses the question of longtime preservation of digital data. It is aiming at providing a repository for digital data in Classics, which will be independent from the research institutions generating and analysing the data. This involves also thinking about standards, best-practises and training-opportunities for scholars/students to get acquainted with the minimal requirements ensuring longtime preservation.
I was invited to take part in one of the working-groups of this IANUS-project. We were focusing on the teaching infrastructures which may be necessary for the dissemination of knowhow about digital methods and tools relevant to the fields of Classics and the preservation of its quality. One of the results of the first meeting was, for me, the perception of a gap between the requirements in the study-programmes taught at University and the skills necessary for the collaborators of some of the current research-projects. A further interesting element was introduced by some of the participants who showed the different degrees of how Digital Humanities could be integrated in the more traditional fields. The steps can vary from the simple offering of some courses in traditional programmes to an entirely independent domain of Digital Humanities linked to no specific content. The aim in the IANUS-project was defined as something inbetween these to extreme positions, where precisely the boundaries between the two domains ‘Classics’ and ‘Digital Humanities’ have to be discussed and where the amount of each of them may vary according to the different needs and research-questions formulated by the several fields of Classics.
Finally it was striking to see the different perspectives between fields like Archaeology and thoses based more on texts and languages. This was in particular visible with regard to the usage of GIS tools. Having attended last November a workshop on GIS for the Humanities, I got some insight about how GIS analyses could be applied to studies on texts. I did not realise back in November, how surprising it was that the archaeologists were almost absent from this workshop. One of the reasons may be that the concept of Humanities itself can be understood in different way, which has as its consequence that the fields do not get the same weight in those different perceptions of Humanities. The French distinction between ‘lettres’ and ‘sciences humaines’ may provide the labels for the differences, as more or less weight may be given in ones definition of ‘Humanities’ either to ‘lettres’ or to ‘sciences humaines’.
February 6, 2013
This post is about fr. 5 [Gaede/Biraschi]. It is a passage preserved in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistai and deals with a painting, made by Cleanthes of Corinth, which was displayed in the temple of Artemis Alpheiosa in Elis. According to Strabo (Str. 8.3.12 [C343]), who happens to describe the same building, there were two paintings, one depicting the sack of Troy whereas the other represents the birth of Athena. In the passage from Athenaues only the second painting is mentioned:
οἶδα δὲ καὶ τὴν ἐν τῇ Πισάτιδι γραφὴν ἀνακειμένην ἐν τῷ τῆς Ἀλφειώσας Ἀρτέμιδος ἱερῷ (Κλεάνθους δ᾿ ἐστὶ τοῦ Κορινθίου) ἐν ᾗ Ποσειδῶν πεποίηται θύννον τῷ Διὶ προσφέρων ὠδίνοντι, ὡς ἱστορεῖ Δημήτριος ἐν ὀγδόῃ τοῦ Τρωϊκοῦ διακόσμου.
I also know about the Pisatian painting dedicated in the temple of Artemis Alpheiosa (it is made by Cleanthes of Corinth); On it, Poseidon is depicted how he offers Zeus, who is giving birth, a tunafish, as Demetrios of Scepsis states in the 8th book of his Trojan Catalogue. (Athen. 8.346c)
As described here the situation seems rather odd and does not make much sense, as it comes as one of the many strange anecdotes the protagonists of Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistai tell during their talks. The scene becomes much more meaningful when we look at representations of Poseidon we kept from Antiquity. For this we have to combine two additional elements.
First one of the traditional archaic way of presenting Poseidon should be mentioned. A red-figure vase (about 470 BCE) belonging currently to the Antiken Antikensammlung of the Depertment of Archaeology at the University of Würzburg illustrates perfectly the gesture under discussion here. The picture can also be found at the (under Poseidon 146), with some further information:
The link between the two elements is provided by Felix Bulle in his entry on Poseidon in Roscher’s Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, (Leipzig 1897-1909, vol. 5, p. 2857). He alludes to Demetios’s description of the painting while quoting Enrico Brunn’s Geschichte der griechischen Künstler, Stuttgard 1889 (p. 5-6) where the origin of painting is discussed. In Pliny (HN 35, 15-16) this Cleanthes of Corinth is believed to by one of the inventors of linear drawing and therefore the evidence from Demetrios has some importance in this context.
Brunn’s Geschichte der griechischen Künstler can be found at either in the first edition from 1859 (p. 7) or in the second edition from 1889 (p. 5-6)
However the painting was sometimes perceived as a king of jock, precisely because of Demetrios’s remark about Poseidon gesture of offering Zeus a tunafish. Modern readers often saw something funny in the gesture and dated the painting to the Hellenistic period where playing with old themes, such as the birth of Athena, was frequent.
Bulle draws another conclusion. He rather believes that Demetrios mis- or overinterpreted what he saw. Poseidon may simply have been represented in such an archaic position with his distinctive feature and happens to be depicted next to Zeus. Demetrios then made the connection and saw the gesture, in a rather superficial interpretation, as a gesture of someone offering a present. This makes Demetrios a rather poor scholar, what reflects the opinion scholar’s had about Demetrios at the end of the 19th century.
We may draw another conclusion: the evidence shows how distant and different the ancient scholars and commentators are from our modern approach. On the one hand, they had access to much more evidence. The paining from Cleanthes, as most of the others, were still available and could be seen from first hand. The applies of course even more so to ancient texts! On the other, their interpretative tools were based on other criteria than ours and led to very different perceptions of the masterpieces. We should therefore be very careful when judging a scholarly contribution from Antiquity. This is in particular so for Demetrios of Scepsis whose work has only be preserved indirectly, again through the interpretations and appreciations of ancient authors.
January 16, 2013
The new term at DDH starts with two weeks of many highlights. First there was the conference, entitled “Medieval Manuscripts as Truly Open Data”, given by Dr Will Noel, Director of th Center and Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He spoke about the manuscripts in a digital age and what would be the best practice to make them truly open access. He presented for instance the collection of Manuscripts of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which is accessible on flickr ().
Today from the DDH spoke about “Unpacking the draft page: time, space and gamification of digital scholarly editions”. She presented her research-project on Proust draft’s (). The whole manuscript is available on the web site of the BNF (). In her presentation she also mentioned a project on Nietzsche’s manuscripts (). Two important ideas emerged from her talk: 1) the modern manuscripts are to be distinguished from the medieval ones, as their become private documents showing the working process of the author. 2) in such manuscripts a writing sequence should be distinguished from a reading sequence.
Finally there will be a third conference given by from the Furman University who is working at the from the CHS in Washington. Under the title “21st Century Citation and Practical Quotation in a Digital Library” he will be presenting new thoughts about the way citations/quotations should look like in a digital library.