Digital Pedagogy

How are new technologies transforming the interface between research and learning?

Hestia2 seminar @Senate House, room 246 (6th floor), 6 June 2014

Funded by the AHRC, Hestia2 has been exploring some of the consequences of applying digital technologies to humanities text-based research, including investigating the use of network theory (Southampton), complex data visualisations (Stanford), and Literary GIS (Birmingham). In this final seminar, we consider the extent to which digital technologies are transforming knowledge of research beyond academia, what the particular challenges and opportunities are for digital-based teaching, and what consequences there may be for research practice.

The seminar is FREE to all, refreshments will be provided, but places are limited. If you would like to participate, please sign up here:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/digital-pedagogy-transforming-the-interface-between-research-and-learning-tickets-11758940307

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Beyond images and surfaces: Impressions from the ‘Telling stories with maps’ symposium in Birmingham

As we have already written on this blog, the fourth event within the Hestia 2 programme recently took place in Birmingham. With its focus on qualitative GIS and narrative mapping, this symposium was closest to my own academic interests and motivations for participating in the project. Its selection of papers, audience and topics achieved one of the long-standing aims of the Hestia team: to bring together the social sciences, humanities and the ‘IT crowd’ in a genuine interdisciplinary dialogue. Testifying to the success of the event were the high attendance rate, the diverse professional backgrounds of participants, and the numerous follow up discussions instigated on different fora (particularly twitter and the ‘blogosphere’).

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Palimpsest: Literary Edinburgh @Telling Stories with Maps

But she said, sitting on the bus going up Shaftesbury Avenue, she felt herself everywhere; not ‘here, here, here’; and she tapped the back of the seat; but everywhere. She waved her hand, going up Shaftesbury Avenue.  She was all that. [1]

How then to map that? Mrs Dalloway’s words reflect the fact that in literary narratives the sense of where one is may seem to have little to do with physical geography. While Virginia Woolf herself argued against attempting to physically locate a place an author mentions in a novel, since she believed that ‘[a] writer’s country is a territory within his own brain’, our project is based on the idea that the act of mentioning real-world place-names is in itself significant.[2] Woolf’s own liberal use of real-world place-names, albeit used with license, undermines her claims and indicate the broader basis of literary tradition and places in the world that provide a graspable structure to the reader of a literary work. Indeed, at least in terms of the significance of places the passage in Mrs Dalloway concurs,  for it continues:  ‘So that to know her, or any one, one must seek out the people who completed them; even the places.’[3]

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Hestia2@Birmingham 30 April 2014

This week sees the third workshop taking place as part of Hestia 2. The event is being hosted by the University of Birmingham’s Digital Humanities Hub, which seems appropriate as it is a facility dedicated to bringing together scholars and practitioners from across disciplines interested in different ways of visualising the world.

The theme of the workshop is qualitative GIS – techniques for exploring non-numerical data through mapping. This is a relatively new field, although not without important precedents. Historically, cartographers would add a range of images to their maps. These could range from drawings of mythical beasts animating far off lands to town plans complete with sketches of key buildings. These drawings went beyond cold, scientific representation to tell us something about the way places were imagined and lived. As Geographical Information Systems (GIS) were developed in the 1960s and 1970s they became a tool for representing numerical data, reflecting the fashion at the time for using computers to ask new, highly quantitative, research questions. In GIS, places are all-too-easily reduced to points, lines and polygons, all of which can have values attached to them. Conventionally these values were either numeric or comprised basic text strings, but as computers became more powerful in the 1980s, longer texts, photographs, audio and video could be added.

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Telling stories with maps: the geoweb, qualitative GIS and narrative mapping

Digital Humanities Hub, University of Birmingham, 30 April 2014

Call for papers

As part of the Hestia 2 seminar series exploring the different ways in which humanistic approaches to data visualization are challenging and transforming existing mapping practices, we are pleased to invite contributions to a one-day workshop that will examine the specific role of GIS in mapping texts of different kinds.

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Why Update ORBIS?

There’s a lot of digital humanities left to be done. There are books that haven’t been digitized that need to be mined to find trends to put on maps using algorithms that haven’t even been designed yet. So, when you consider that the significant effort necessary to put a new finish on a project like ORBIS, you might think it’s a waste of time. I know I get a bit uncomfortable about it when I consider the other projects that were proposed and which lost out on achieving some measure of implementation because of the support for a version 2 of ORBIS. It’s not a zero sum game that we have going in this field, but it does suffer from entrenchment and there are natural inducements to supporting existing, successful work that can foster a rich-get-richer climate.

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