Lecture Melissa Terras, “Quantifying Cultural References: Digital Humanities as process and abstraction”, 13 June 2014

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Melissa TerrasOn 13 June, Prof. Melissa Terras (University College London) will give the annual Descartes-Huygens lecture, entitled ‘Quantifying Cultural References: Digital Humanities as process and abstraction’This annual event is a joint initiative of the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities (Utrecht University) and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (The Hague). 

Quantification and abstraction of historical evidence

What issues are raised when we move to rely on computational abstraction as the major, or even only, source of primary historical evidence? What efforts have we made to inject an understanding of process, pipeline, and method into our understanding of digital models? How best can we integrate digital models alongside close reading to build, and trust, our evidence and opinions?

The available suite of digital methods to visualise, present, abstract, and engage with historical evidence has increased rapidly over the past decades. Therefore, our need for critical reflection on and about these methods grow ever more important.

In her lecture, Terras wil discuss the long trajectory yet increasingly seductive nature of visualisation of data upon which we can build hypotheses in the humanities. She will be relating those to a range of underlying digital methods used nowadays to give different viewpoints of our present and past human activity.

Terras will look into these issues, by looking at a range of projects currently underway at UCL Centre of Digital Humanities. For instance, she will adress the project of including imaging, transcribing, and linking information in the Great Parchment Book using novel processes. This in order to discuss issues of process, provenance, and veracity in digital humanities.

Melissa Terras is Director of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Professor of Digital Humanities in UCL’s Department of Information Studies. Her research focuses on the use of computational techniques to enable research in the arts and humanities that would otherwise be impossible.

Publications include Image to Interpretation: Intelligent Systems to Aid Historians in the Reading of the Vindolanda Texts (2006, Oxford University Press) and Digital Images for the Information Professional (2008, Ashgate). She has also co-edited various volumes such as Digital Humanities in Practice (Facet 2012) and Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader (Ashgate 2013).


Event: Descartes-Huygens lecture Melissa Terras, ‘Quantifying Cultural References: Digital Humanities as process and abstraction’
Date: 13 June 2014
Time: 15:30 until 18:00
Location: Lutheran Church