▶ An Introduction to Digital Humanities

"Expert insights into our digital landscape"

Workshop Organiser: Pip Willcox, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford [Co-Director of DHOxSS]


This lecture-based survey course gives delegates a thorough overview of the theory and practice of Digital Humanities. Drawing on the expertise and the library collections of the University of Oxford, it will appeal to anyone new to the field, or curious to broaden their understanding of the range of work the Digital Humanities encompass.

Topics covered include:

  • crowdsourcing
  • data curation
  • databases
  • digital work with physical artefacts
  • engagement
  • geographic information systems (GIS)
  • hyperspectral imaging
  • image manipulation
  • measuring and analyzing impact
  • preservation and sustainability
  • project management
  • semantic web
  • Text Encoding Initiative
  • transcription and text encoding
  • visualization

Sessions include talks, presentations, demonstrations, and practical workshops. On completing this course, delegates will be conversant with the variety and potential of the various technologies used to collate, interrogate, and facilitate digital work in the Humanities, and have gained insight and practice in methods relevant to their own research.


Times Monday 20 July
Tuesday 21 July
Wednesday 22 July
Thursday 23 July
Friday 24 July
11:00 - 12:30
Session 1:

Introductions Pip Willcox
Getting to know each other is important! Over the course of the week, we hope you will form lasting work relationships with other participants from across the arts, humanities, and digital spheres, as well as new friendships.

Intersection, Scale, and Social Machines: the Humanities in the digital world David De Roure
This keynote for the introductory strand will introduce you to digital methods, methodologies, and current activity in the humanities, framing Digital Humanities in its interdisciplinary settings, and providing a context for the week's workshop.
Session 1:

Pipedream to Project: planning digital research projects in the humanities Matthew Kimberley and Ruth Kirkham
A digital research project in the humanities can cover an endless array of possibilities: digitized or digitally-born collections, websites, apps, digital media outputs, repositories or digital research tools. This session will explore some of the potential avenues for digital research projects, and offer guidance on how to undertake effective planning of such projects, from interpreting themes in funding calls to anticipating the hidden costs that come with digital research.

Session 1:

Introduction to Data Curation Megan Senseney and Andrea K. Thomer
This session will provide a conceptual frameworks for considering the role of data curation in humanities research with an emphasis on information organization and representation. This will be followed by an opportunity to put these ideas into practice.
Session 1:

Machine Learning and Music J. Stephen Downie
This session on machine learning uses a case study in mood analysis of music audio as friendly way to introduce some basic machine learning concepts, including the Weka machine learning toolkit. Participants will also be briefly introduced to the world of music signal processing and analysis.

Session 1:

An Introduction to Relational Databases Meriel Patrick and James Wilson
This session considers when it is appropriate to use a relational database, how relational databases are structured and queried, and some of the common challenges of working with structured data in the humanities.
14:00 - 16:00
Session 2:
14.00—16.00 [at the Bodleian's Weston Library]

Hyperspectral and other high end imaging and spectroscopic techniques to aid Humanities scholars David Howell
This session will describe the Bodleian's research team's use of advanced hyperspectral imaging technology to reveal hidden texts and to analyze material in the Libraries' unique collections. The session will introduce the new instrument (funded by the University of Oxford Fell Fund) along with Raman spectroscopy equipment developed by Durham University, as methods that allow researchers to find out more about Bodleian collections than is possible in 'normal' reading room investigations. One example will be a project (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) based in the Bodleian investigating Ferdinand Bauer's botanical and zoological paintings, considered to be among the finest in the world. It will include a demonstration using at least one of the methods currently being used.

Reborn digital: text, transmission, and technology Pip Willcox and Judith Siefring
Text is at the heart of many fields in the Humanities. This workshop session provides an introduction to methods and technologies of remediating analogue text into digital forms.
Session 2:

Don't Waste Space: how GIS can aid Digital Humanities research Christopher Green
On some level, almost all Humanities data is spatial. Whether we are dealing with material remains found is a specific place or with landmarks recorded in a document (whether real or fictional), space provides the context and locational fixing of most of our work. When we deal and engage with space in our data, we can unlock new potentials and discover new insights into material with which we were beginning to feel familiar. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become the dominant tool for spatial analysis, providing a whole suite of opportunities to spatially locate, study, and understand our data. This talk will examine the role of space and GIS in the Digital Humanities, including both potentials and pitfalls, and provide an introduction which should help you begin to understand how GIS could aid your own research.

Introducing the Toolkit for the Impact of Digitized Scholarly Resources Kathryn Eccles and Eric Meyer
What are the impacts of your digital outputs? In this talk we introduce you to the TIDSR toolkit, comprising a range of qualitative and quantitative measures for understanding usage and impact, and present a number of case studies to show how these methods can be used to support and enhance your resources. 
Session 2:

Linked Data for Digital Humanities: introducing the Semantic Web Kevin Page
The Semantic Web can be thought of as an extension of the World Wide Web in which sufficient meaning is captured and encoded such that computers can automatically match, retrieve, and link resources across the internet that are related to each other. In a scholarly context this offers significant opportunities for publishing, referencing, and re-using digital research output. In this session we introduce the principles and technologies behind this 'Linked Data', illustrated through examples from the humanities.
Session 2:

An Introduction to TEI P5 XML and the oXygen XML Editor James Cummings
This session is an introductory lecture on markup, XML, and the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), followed by a demonstration of marking up a simple TEI text using the popular XML editor oXygen. This will introduce students to the nature of markup, the way this is formulated in XML, the basic motivations of the TEI, and some of the main features of the TEI P5 Guidelines for text encoding.
Session 2:

Introduction to Visualization for Digital Humanities Alfie Abdul-Rahman
In this session, we will consider how visualization can be used in digital humanities projects. We will cover basic concepts of visualization as well as examine existing visualization techniques and applications.
16:30 - 17:30
Session 3:
16.30—17.30 [at the Bodleian's Weston Library]

Digging into the Archaeology of the Book Alexandra Franklin
This session, run by the Bodleian Libraries' Centre for the Study of the Book, will look at items from the Libraries' collections, with an emphasis on the variety of forms and discussion of the implications of form for presentation of digitized content.
Session 3:

Introduction to Crowdsourcing in the Arts and Humanities Kathryn Eccles
What is crowdsourcing, how does it work, and what impacts can it have on academic and public interactions with the arts and humanities?
Session 3:

Beyond the Academy: engagement, education, and exchange Pip Willcox
This session introduces you to the practice and practicalities of public engagement. It draws on the presenters' experience to explore means and methods of widening access to the humanities, to foster dialogue and participation.
Session 3:

Working with digital images Ségolène Tarte
This session reviews elements of what the visual system does when we look at images. You will learn the basics of what digital images are and what can be done with them in terms of useful image processing techniques (namely: introduction to image segmentation, feature extraction, and image registration techniques for modelling) for applications in the humanities. Each technique is illustrated with examples of digital images of textual artefacts ranging from clay tablets to papyri.
Session 3:

What can Digital Humanities do for us? David De Roure , Kathryn Eccles , James Loxley , and Pip Willcox
This panel discussion with digital and Humanities experts considers: what technologies can and could bring to humanities research, practice, teaching, and dissemination; and how the humanities can inform and expand the scope of technological advances across traditional institutional, and public/private/not-for-profit, divisions. It will be followed by an open discussion.

There are 20 individual speakers in this workshop.

  • Alfie Abdul-Rahman
    Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford

    Alfie Abdul-Rahman completed her PhD in Computer Science at Swansea University, focusing on the physically-based rendering and algebraic manipulation of volume models. She is a Research Associate at the Oxford e-Research Centre, Oxford University. She has been involved with the Imagery Lenses for Visualizing Text Corpora and Commonplace Cultures: Mining Shared Passages in the 18th Century using Sequence Alignment and Visual Analytics, developing web-based visualization tools for humanities scholars, such as Poem Viewer and ViTA: Visualization for Text Alignment. Her research interests include visualization, computer graphics, and human-computer interaction. Before joining Oxford, she worked as a Research Engineer in HP Labs Bristol on document engineering, and then as a software developer in London, working on multi-format publishing.

  • James Cummings
    IT Services, University of Oxford [Co-Director of DHOxSS]

    James Cummings is the Senior Academic Research Technology Specialist for IT Services at University of Oxford. James is also a co-director of the annual Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School. He is an elected member of the Text Encoding Initiative's Technical Council. He spends lots of time helping academics with research projects, especially where they involve the TEI. James completed a Medieval Studies BA from University of Toronto, and an MA in Medieval Studies and PhD on the archival records of medieval drama from University of Leeds. In addition to giving a couple talks, He will be running from session to session trying to make sure things are running smoothly.

  • David De Roure
    Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford

    David De Roure is Professor of e-Research at the University of Oxford, where he directs the multidisciplinary e-Research Centre. Focused on advancing digital scholarship, David has conducted research across disciplines in the areas of social machines, computational musicology, Web Science, social computing, and hypertext. He is a frequent speaker and writer on digital scholarship and the future of scholarly communications, and advises the UK Economic and Social Research Council in the area of Social Media Data and realtime analytics.

  • J. Stephen Downie
    Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    J. Stephen Downie is a professor and the associate dean for research at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois. Dr. Downie conducts research in music information retrieval. He was instrumental in founding both the International Society for Music Information Retrieval and the Music Information Retrieval Evaluation eXchange.

  • Kathryn Eccles
    Oxford Internet Institute and TORCH, University of Oxford

    Kathryn Eccles is Digital Humanities Champion at the University of Oxford, and a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, a multidisciplinary department of the University of Oxford dedicated to understanding life online. Kathryn's research interests include the impact of new technologies on public interactions with arts and cultural heritage, understanding the scope, potential and impact of crowdsourcing; and the impact of new technologies on scholarly activity and behaviour.

  • Alexandra Franklin
    Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

    Alexandra Franklin is Co-ordinator of the Centre for the Study of the Book, in the Bodleian Libraries Department of Special Collections. She has published on the illustration of popular prints, most recently in Studies in Ephemera: Text and Image in Eighteenth-century Print. Kevin D. Murphy and Sally O'Driscoll, eds. (2013), was Director of the Broadside Ballads Online project, and is currently the Department's liaison with research projects using Bodleian special collections for investigation of the history of the 15th-centry book and history of British book trades.

  • Christopher Green
    Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford

    Chris Green is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in GIS at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford. He works on the English Landscapes and Identities project (http://englaid.com), which is a legacy data / data collation project attempting to write a history of 2,500 years of the English landscape from the Middle Bronze Age to the Domesday Book. Chris's research interests are focused around dealing with time and temporalities in GIS and on spatial visualization (or cartography as we really should still be calling it!).

  • David Howell
    Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

    David Howell has been carrying out research in the heritage field for over 30 years, initially at Historic Royal Palaces but for 10 years in Oxford. He is focussed on non-invasive non-destructive research techniques and in particular the application of emerging digital technologies to heritage artefacts. These techniques include several methods of spectroscopic examination as well as Hyperspectral Imaging, Reflectance Transformation Imaging, and 3D scanning and printing.

  • Matthew Kimberley
    Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

    Matthew Kimberley is the Bodleian's Digital Research Facilitator, responsible for steering new digital research project proposals through the pipeline and identifying suitable funding streams. This involves working with stakeholders across Oxford and other institutions. He previously designed and delivered an innovative four year programme of Outreach and public engagement for Classical Indian Studies on behalf of Bodleian's Special Collections department, targeted at both young people and adult learners. His academic background has spanned a wide range of Humanities disciplines at four leading UK universities.

  • Ruth Kirkham
    Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford

    Ruth is an experienced Project Manager with a background of supporting a wide range of Digital Humanities projects since joining the University of Oxford in 2005. Ruth currently coordinates the Digital Humanities @ Oxford Network in the Humanities Division and works with the Cultures of Knowledge project as their Community and Technical Manager.

  • James Loxley
    University of Edinburgh

    James Loxley is Professor of Early Modern Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He has published widely on seventeenth century literature, in particular, and on the theories of performance and performativity. He has in recent years led a number of projects which have made extensive use of digital approaches to the undertaking of research and the communication of its results - the most recent is the Palimpsest project to map the places of narrated Edinburgh, which has resulted in the creation of 'LitLong:Edinburgh'.

  • Eric Meyer
    Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

    Eric T Meyer is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the OII. His research in the field of social informatics focuses on the changing nature of knowledge creation across the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities as technology is embedded in everyday practices. More information at http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/meyer/.

  • Kevin Page
    Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford

    Dr. Kevin Page is a researcher at the University of Oxford e­-Research Centre. His work on web architecture and the semantic annotation and distribution of data has, through participation in several UK, EU, and international projects, been applied across a wide variety of domains including sensor networks, music information retrieval, clinical healthcare, and remote collaboration for space exploration. He is principal investigator of the Early English Print in HathiTrust (ElEPHãT) and Semantic Linking of BBC Radio (SLoBR) projects, and leads Linked Data research within the AHRC Transforming Musicology project.

  • Meriel Patrick
    IT Services, University of Oxford

    Meriel Patrick works as part of the Research Support team at IT Services, as their Academic Research Technology Specialist. Much of her recent work has focused on research data management, in particular developing and delivering training for graduate students and other researchers. She also teaches philosophy and theology for Wycliffe Hall's visiting student programme, SCIO.

  • Megan Senseney
    Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    Megan Senseney works as Senior Project Coordinator for the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science where she also graduated with a Master of Science in 2008. Her recent projects and research interests focus on data curation issues in the digital humanities.

  • Judith Siefring
    Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

    Judith Siefring is a project manager and digital editor at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. She is currently managing a Mellon-funded project, Digital Manuscripts Toolkit, focusing on user-driven tools for digitized manuscripts. Her other particular interests within digital humanities include text encoding, digital citation and sustainability.

  • Ségolène Tarte
    Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford

    Ségolène Tarte is a senior researcher at the Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, UK, where she works on inter-disciplinary projects involving imaging sciences, information sciences, and the study of textual artefacts (e.g. papyrology, epigraphy, cuneiform studies). An image processing specialist whose research focus has turned to the Humanities, she is interested in the study, understanding, modelling, and support of expert knowledge in the Humanities.

  • Andrea K. Thomer
    Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    Andrea K. Thomer is a PhD student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a research associate at the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship. Before receiving her MLIS (Specialization in Data Curation) from Illinois in 2012, she worked as an excavator at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. Her research interests include biodiversity and natural history museum informatics; long-term database curation, particularly in a research or museum setting; and bringing information science methods to the field of biology (and vice versa).

  • Pip Willcox
    Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford [Co-Director of DHOxSS]

    Pip Willcox is the Curator of Digital Special Collections at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. With a background in scholarly editing and book history, she is an advocate for engaging new audiences for multidisciplinary scholarship and library collections through digital media. She conceived and ran the Sprint for Shakespeare public campaign and the Bodleian First Folio project. Current projects include Early English Print in the HathiTrust (ElEPHãT)—a linked semantic prototyping project, and SOCIAM: the theory and practice of social machines. Pip serves on the Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, and is Co-director of the annual Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School, convening its introductory workshop strand

  • James Wilson
    IT Services, University of Oxford

    James is a project manager at the University of Oxford IT Services and a member of the Research Support Team. He is coordinating the implementation of a research data management infrastructure at the University, and has been leading the development of the University's Online Research Database Service (ORDS).


Workshop Venue: All of your sessions will be in the Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre at St Anne's College, except those on Monday afternoon which will be held in the Weston Library Lecture Theatre. We'll make sure you know how to get between the two.

AM and PM Refreshment Breaks: All breaks will be in the Ruth Deech building, St Anne's, except Monday PM refreshments which will be at the Weston Library

Lunch Arrangements: Lunch each day will be in the Dining Hall, St Anne's

Computers: A laptop isn't required for this introductory workshop, but if you can bring one you may find it useful. Please see our information about using a laptop at the DHOxSS http://dhoxss.humanities.ox.ac.uk/2015/registration.html#LaptopGuidance

Group Colour: Dark blue

Site last updated: 2015-07-15 -- Image Credits -- Contact: events@it.ox.ac.uk