Category Archives: Uncategorized

Safe the date: 22-23 September THAT Camp Göttingen

Recently I moved to Göttingen to start working on a new project for the Akademie der Wissenschaften Göttingen (more over that later). Göttingen is an awesome little town right in the centre of Germany (and quite rainy, so that makes me feel a bit like in Ghent) with the very renowned Georg-August-Universität, the oldest German AdW, many Max-Planck-Institute and a very active DH scene. Check the website of the GCDH (Göttingen Center for Digital Humanities).

In case you got curious and want to visit, why not use the opportunity and attend the 2014 THAT Camp Göttingen that is organized by my fantastic new colleagues Sally Chambers and Jörg Wettlaufer! Just to mention that I actually met Sally first during the 2013 THAT-Camp at Ghent, were I talked about the possibilities of TEI for manuscript description (

All information can be found here and registration starts on the 4th June. Better be fast!

See you in Göttingen!


Upcoming: Research stay for TEI-edition of Velthem’s Fourth Part of the ‘Spiegel Historiael’ at Staatsbibliothek Berlin

I am very excited that I was awarded a grant from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library) for a pilot study for a digital edition of Velthem’s Fourth Part of the ‘Spiegel Historiael’, using TEI-conformant XML. More about this project you can find out from the poster I presented at the DH Summer School Leuven (Belgium), 18 to 20 September 2013. You can access the poster via SSRN:

I hope I will be able to transcribe and code a great deal of this fascinating manuscript during my two month stay and make its content more accessible to other researchers as well as to the public. I am grateful to everybody who supported the proposal and gave me valuable advice while I was writing it. I will keep you updated about further developments!

Upcoming: Digital.Humanities@Oxford Summer School

I am very excited to go soon to Oxford and get hands-on teaching on TEI and hear more about general recent developments in the Digital Humanities. The schedule looks very interesting! And not to forget about the Banquet at Queens College…

I still have to think of the best moment to sneak out and visit the Bodleain Library and have a closer look at ms. Marshall 28 that contains a medieval Dutch translation of the Livre de Sidrac and have a look how the end time prophecy looks like in the real manuscript (the old edition is not really useful in this point)!

One Day Introduction to Topic Modeling with LDA and Distributional Semantics, 30 May 2013

This day was an initiative of the Vlaamse Werkgroep Medievistik and held at the University of Antwerp. Our teacher was Martin Riedl from the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

During the day Martin initiated us to topic modeling, a research methodology of the Digital Humanities that in theory allows us to analyze in a relative simple way huge textual corpora according to their main topics. The underlying algorithms look very complicated, but using special software lets you ignore them and in a relative simply way shows you the most common clusters of words that – in ideal case – represent a topic in the corpus. Thus in an ideal world, topic modeling will show you the main topics in a corpus and their distribution and also the distribution of different words in a topic. It can then attribute these topics also to new documents and may help structure a corpus.

However, you cannot just take let’s say a digitized Middle Dutch text and run the software, because first of all your results will be spoiled by structural words and very common words (think of articles, auxiliary verbs…) and also the un-standardized medieval orthography causes a problem, but there are solution for this, think of removing the very common “non-content” words and automatically standardize  the orthography. Currently Mike Kerstemont is working on applying this technique to medieval texts and some first results look quite promising. To learn more about topic modeling in the Digital Humanities, its methods, advantages, problems, and theoretical reflection I think this issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities is very interesting. As for most medievalists the underlying technique may be too complicated to grasp, the good thing is, that many computer scientists who master these techniques seem more than willing to apply them to interesting corpora, so one should not be afraid to seek co-operations!

Berlin School in Codicology and Manuscript description with TEI 29 April to 3 May 2013

I was lucky to get a bursary to attend a specialist training at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin in codicology, the study of manuscript books as material objects, and the use of TEI-conformant XML to record and analyze codicological data with such amazing instructors as M. J. DRISCOLL, J. P. GUMBERT, and Eef OVERGAAUW just to name a few. A full description of the course and the instructors can be found at

It was a honour to spend one week with the international participants and instructors, scrutinizing manuscripts together, exchanging ideas and learning so much about the sometimes – at least from textual scholars – overlooked area of manuscripts as a physical object! I was also deeply impressed by the possibilities of TEI-conformant XML for editing, archiving, and analyzing all kinds of documents and got so enthusiastic that I enrolled myself for the Oxford Summer School in Digital Humanities ( to learn more! I think this is the future of editing. Just have a look for example at the Digital Jane Austen Edition ( Now imagine what you can do with medieval texts. Digitize glossed manuscripts and indicate who wrote when which gloss. Digitize a specific text, let’s say a prophecy, and indicate the changes during time and even languages…Of course it requires high technical knowledge, but then the possibilities are almost like magic and more will probably invented in future.

Some impressions: