Tag Archives: Vierde Partie

DHBenelux2014: Boosting Digital Humanities in the Benelux states

DHBenelux 2014, June 12-13, 2014, The Hague, Netherlands

Hosted by the Royal Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) and Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands  

The so called Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg) share a long common history and are acting in modern Europe often together, as three small countries acting united can achieve more than three small countries acting alone. This was definitely true for the first joint DHBenelux conference this June in The Hague.

The amount and diversity of attendees was astonishing, given that this was the first conference of its kind (have a look at the DHBenelux-Website for the program and attendees)! Amongst the speakers were not only some of the most prominent DHBenelux-researchers, but the organizers were also able to draw as keynote Melissa Terras (Director of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Professor of Digital Humanities at University College London (UCL)).

I departed at 5 in the morning by train from Göttingen and was really lucky that the serious thunderstorms the days before had not blocked my travel route completely. Because I first had to go to my hotel (I did stay at a very tiny, but very nice hotel called Statenhotel), I missed a few minutes of the very inspiring keynote by Melissa Terras (and lucky me, I was even able to discuss a little bit with her during the coffee break…).

Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were filled by sessions of three researchers each, a live demonstration of some projects (Chordify was definitely very popular, but they brought a real guitar), the conference diner, and poster presentations. I will not start mentioning all the names here and also not go into details concerning the content of the presentation, as some very good reviews have already been published by Marisa Martinez (http://dixit.hypotheses.org/348), Heidi Elaine Dowding (http://dixit.hypotheses.org/tag/dh-benelux), and Max Kemman (http://www.maxkemman.nl/2014/06/grasping-technology/) and many researchers were tweeting live during the conference using #DHBenelux or @DHBenelux. Wout Dillan even made a textual analysis of the tweets with Voyant tools. More blogposts about the conference might be collected here.

Wout Dillan's textual analysis of DHBenelux twitter feed

Wout Dillan’s textual analysis of DHBenelux twitter feed

Truly funny was the experience that although all speeches were given in English, the breaks were full of Dutch and only occasionally some French, German or English. However it might have felt strange for Dutch natives (and all the other non-English speakers as well) to communicate during the official part of the conference in English, the non-Dutch speakers truly appreciated this effort because it was opening up the discussion for all. So I truly hope that the language policy will not change next year. I guess we have to accept that English has become the lingua franca in international research communities (and probably most researchers nowadays prefer English to Latin, which was the academic lingua franca up to the 19th century, just saying that…).

KB Aula wall poem

KB Aula wall poem

The organizing team of DHBenelux 2014 (Steven Claeyssens, Karina van Dalen-Oskam, Mike Kestemont and Marijn Koolen has done a great job by putting together a varied program of speeches, posters and live presentations. The organizing heart of the conference was Suzanne van Kaam, who did a great job, never loosing track of any tiny detail. I am very thankful for having my speech about coding the Vierde Partie by Lodewijk van Velthem in TEI accepted (abstract: http://dhbenelux.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/unstable-data-wuttke.pdf, the slides are available on Slideshare: http://de.slideshare.net/DHBenelux/towards-a-digital-edition-of-the-vierde-partie-of-the-speigel-historiael). I definitely learned a lot! Thank you all for the great hospitality!

Given this overall success all participants were happy to hear next year’s conference announced to be held June 11-12 2015 at Antwerp. I am convinced these kind of activities can truly boost DH research in the Benelux-states as they not only give a platform for DH Benelux researcher to meet and share ideas, but it is also boosting DH activities in the Benelux on an international level.

See you in Antwerp!



Torn between Creating Data and Saving Data

As the deadline for DHBenelux 2014 is approaching, I start panicking slightly as my paper is still not ready. Quite a lot of my time is absorbed by my new job as a more formal kick-off of the project Humanities Data Centre is scheduled for next week. With many partners involved (you can read the official press-release of the GWDG here, sorry only in German), you can imagine it takes a lot of communication and getting to know each other. I also try to get some ideas about my new town and found already a nice yoga studio and a little choir. And I have to admit that I really need some stretching and singing with my otherwise quite sedative activities, so I have to take into account to make time for this as well.

So while I am thinking of Saving Data, I am also thinking of how to Create Data, in my case, a digital edition of the German Vierde Partie of the Spiegel Historiael by Lodewijk van Velthem. And the more I think about it while actually reading Patrick Sahle’s dissertation on Digital Editions (this enormously inspiring work is published Open Access here, again only in German) the more I start doubting. Now is doubt in academia not generally a bad thing, but the start of good research question, but at the moment I feel still miles away from translating the implications of his approach to the actual edition process. Good news it, almost two more weeks to go until the conference… So some time left to make up strategies to resolve this riddle!

If you can read German and are interested in digital editions, do get Patrick Sahle’s books! No easy read, but worth their time!


So many forms of texts… Cover of the third part of Patrick Sahle, Digitale Editionsformen, Schriften des Instituts für Dokumentologie und Editorik, 9, Norderstedt, 2013. Image location is http://www.i-d-e.de/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/cover_Bd_9-klein.png.


Spring resolutions

Spring is always a time of rebirth after the long dark period of winter when at least I prefer to hurl up myself with a blanket and reading good books, eating hot soup, and from time to time taking a good Hot Yoga class to warm up again. It is for me more a time for reflection and rounding up projects than to start new projects.

This winter however was a very productive and inspiring one. First of all, I was really honoured to receive the Charles Clercqprijs 2013 of the Royal Flemish Academy for my doctoral dissertation (Ghent 2012) for an outstanding work in the field of the History of Religions of Flanders (http://www.kvab.be/fondsprijzen.aspx?prid=3).


De Clercqprice2013

Then Frits van Oostrom positively mentioned this work on his website as addition to his monumental literary history of 14th century Middle Dutch Literature (http://www.wereld-in-woorden.nl/aanvullingen-en-correcties). Exhaustive reviews of this book have just appeared in Queeste (http://www.queeste.verloren.nl/). To make everything even better, I was also granted a two-months research fellowship at the Berlin State Library to bring progress into my cherished edition project of the Fourth Part of the Spiegel Historiael.

So, I guess this year will be busy. I plan to finalize the reworking of my dissertation for publication, make progress with the Fourth Part (I already have another lecture about this project scheduled), and last but not least, make a good start with my new job, which will bring me to Göttingen from May onwards.

Especially the reworking the dissertation has had a bit delay, but first of all I had to finalize some articles and it really took some time until I felt able to work on it again. Those of you, who went already through this process probably know exactly the problem. You have worked on it for years, you know exactly its good points, but also its secret flaws… First time I tried to read it again objectively, I really was shocked and wanted to rewrite it completely. But of course to do the whole doctoral research again, and this time bearing in mind what you learned during the process, not the meaning of reworking the dissertation for publication. It is a finished work with its own rights already, but needs some polishing (by the way an excellent book on writing your thesis, and probably also other lengthy works is Demystifying Dissertation Writing by Peg Boyle Single, http://thesiswhisperer.com/2011/07/15/demystifying-dissertation-writing/). It will not be your master piece, its a first major work and your following projects should benefit from what you learned. Still, to bring it into the world, some smoothing is needed, and in my case also some serious cutting in lengths. I mean, who wants to read more than 500 pages on heaven, hell, purgatory and the Apocalypse? So my aim is to make the book more compact and to reduce the very many (probably very German) footnotes.

I will miss Ghent, my friends and colleagues there a lot, but thanks to all electronic communication devices, I hope that we can still stay in contact. And some already announced to visit me in Germany!

So, I am looking forward to the next months!

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life

From: Nina Simone, Feeling Good (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfJRX-8SXOs)

Upcoming: 25.03.2014, Lecture at Wissenswerkstatt Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

I am very happy to announce that at the end of my up to now fantastic weeks at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library) I will be giving a lecture about the ‘Spiegel Historiael’, Lodewijk van Velthem, his vanished Middle Dutch continuation of the Vierde Partie, its High German translation, and how a digital edition of this complicated transmission should look like.

At the center of my presentation will be, naturally the manuscript Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, ms. germ. quart. 2018.

You can find a more detailed announcement in German on the website of the Wissenswerkstatt (http://staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/service/schulungen/wissenswerkstatt/).

Hope to see you there!