Computational Methods for Literary-Historical Textual Scholarship

A three-day international conference on 3-5 July 2018

The Centre for Textual Studies at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, is running a three-day international conference to showcase and explore the latest methods for analyzing literary and historical texts using computers. Kerouac-Shannon

A particular focus will be the ways in which literary and historical scholarship will turn increasingly algorithmic in the future as we invent wholly new kinds of questions to ask of our texts because we have wholly new ways to investigate them. The conference will bring together, and put into fruitful dialogue, scholars using traditional literary and historical methods and those exploring and inventing new computational methods, to their mutual benefit.

Confirmed plenary speakers include:

*Arianna Ciula *Chris Pak *Ruth Ahnert *Rebecca Mason *Anupam Basu *Allesandro Vatri *David L. Hoover *Marco Büchler *Hugh Craig *Willard McCarty *Gary Taylor *Paul Nulty *John Jowett

Where is it happening, exactly?

At De Montfort University, which is the middle of the city of Leicester in the middle of England. Fly in using a London airport (we're 100 miles north-west of it) or Birmingham airport (we're 35 north-east of it) or the regional East Midlands Airport (we're 20 miles south of it). Fast trains to/from central London take 65 minutes and sensible driving (100 miles straight up or down the M1 motorway) takes about 120-150 minutes (mainly in getting in/out of London).

The specific room on the De Montfort campus to head for is the Hugh Aston Building Room 2.07, and main entrance to the Hugh Ashton building (on Vaughan Way, Leicester LE1 5SG) which is here, will have a reception desk for the conference:



There is an online link on the left of this page. The registration fee of 69 GBP (full rate) or 39 GBP (student and unwaged rate) will include admission to events on all three days, refreshments and lunch on 3 and 4 July and a drinks reception prior to the conference dinner. The conference dinner is an optional extra and will cost 40 GBP.


Leicester has over 100 hotels and the most competitive rates are often found by online comparison websites. If you want the nearest hotel to the conference venue, that would be the Holiday Inn Leicester at 129 St Nicholas Circle, Leicester LE1 5LX (about 500 meters on foot), not to be confused with the Holiday Inn Express at Filbert Way, Raw Dykes Road, Leicester LE2 7FL (about 1200 meters on foot). De Montfort University has a special-rate deal of 87 GBP per night bed-and-breakfast with The Beaumont Hotel, 20 De Montfort Square, Leicester, LE1 7GR: call +44 (0)116 252 9602 and mention that you are attending a De Montfort University conference to get this rate. We also have a deal of at 78 GBP per night bed-and-breakfast single occupancy with the Ramada Encore Leicester City Centre Hotel, 84-90 Charles Street, Leicester LE1 1GE: call +44 (0)116 366 0150 and quote offer "DEM0307".


Timings: All papers except the opening and closing keynotes have 30 minute slots and speakers wanting to take questions after their papers should shorten their papers accordingly (say, 20 minutes of paper speaking and 10 minutes of questions and answers). The schedule will be strictly kept to. Speakers' abstracts and biographies are available from the link on the left. All talks are plenary and will take place in Hugh Aston Building Room HU2.07. The Python training sessions will take place in Clephan Building Room CL1.32e.


8.45-9.15am Registration and Coffee/tea/pastries

9.15-9.30am Welcome address from the conference organizer Gabriel Egan (De Montfort University)

9.30-10.30am Opening Keynote from David L. Hoover (New York University) "Simulations and difficult problems". Introduced by Hugh Craig.

10.30-11am Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary University of London) "The culture of networks". Introduced by Paul Nulty.

11-11.30am Coffee/tea. Late registration available

11.30am-12noon Elli Bleeker, Bram Buitendijk, Ronald Haentjens Dekker, Astrid Kulsdom (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) "Alexandria: Reconsidering textual networks in the digital paradigm". Introduced by Ruth Ahnert.

12noon-12.30pm Marco Büchler (University of Göttingen & Leibnitz Institute of European History) "Challenges and implications of historical text reuse detection on big data". Introduced by John Rager.

12.30am-1.30pm Lunch (provided). Late registration available

1.30-2pm Paul Nulty (Cambridge University) "Methods and interactive tools for exploring the semantics of essentially contested political concepts". Introduced by Elli Bleeker.

2-2.30pm John Rager (Amherst College) "A digital textual analysis course at Amherst College". Introduced by Paul Brown.

2.30-3pm Dhiaa Janaby (Newcastle University) "Media at war: The discursive construction of Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran War and the US-led invasion". Introduced by Chris Pak. Introduced by Jewell Thomas.

3-3.15 Coffee/tea

3.15-3.45 Jane Demmen, Andrew Hardie, and Jonathan Culpeper (Lancaster University) "Part-of-speech tagging in Shakespeare: Trials, tribulations and preliminary results". Introduced by Paul Brown.

3.45-4.30pm Willard McCarty (King's College London) "What happens when we intervene?" Introduced by David L. Hoover.

4.45-6.45pm Hands-on session "Intro to Python programming for absolute beginners" led by Paul Brown (De Montfort) in Clephan Building Room CL1.32e.


9-9.30am Coffee/tea/pastries and late registration available

9.30-10am Rebecca Mason (Glasgow University) "Imposing structures on historical legal documents". Introduced by Mark J. Hill.

10-10.30am Jewell Thomas (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) "'A strong basis of suspended action': Lexonomic structure of the novels published in Charles Dickens's All the Year Round 1859-1862". Introduced by Jane Demmen.

10.30-11am Jacqueline Cordell (University of Nottingham) "To regularise, or not to regularise? Orthographic annotation and Middle English (literary) text". Introduced by Takako Kato.

11-11.30am Coffee/tea

11.30-12noon Mark J. Hill and Simon Hengchen (University of Helsinki) "Quantifying the impact of messy data on historical text analysis: Eighteenth century periodicals as a case study". Introduced by Astrid Kulsdom.

12noon-12.30pm Brett Greatley-Hirsch (Leeds University) "When and when not to do a digital edition". Introduced by Paul Brown.

12.30-1.30pm Lunch (provided)

1.30-2pm Iain Emsley (Sussex University), Pip Willcox (Oxford University), David De Roure (Oxford University), and Alan Chamberlain (University of Nottingham) "Galvanising David Garrick: Using Sonification for comparative reading and modelling". Introduced by John Jowett.

2-2.30pm Mel Evans (Leicester University) "Messy signals: Communication and interpretation in a traditional/digital editing project". Introduced by Jane Demmen.

2.30-3pm John Jowett (Shakespeare Institute) "Digital Shakespeare and the Limits of Structure". Introduced by Gabriel Egan.

3-3.30 pm Coffee/tea

3.30-4pm Itay Marienberg-Milikowsky (University of Hamburg) "Beyond digitization? The case of Digital Humanities and Hebrew literature". Introduced by Mel Evans.

4.30-6.30pm Hands-on session "The Python Natural Language Toolkit" led by John Rager (Amherst College) in Clephan Building Room CL1.32e.

6.30-7.30pm Drinks Reception in Queen's Building Second Floor Atrium

7.30pm Walking into town for Conference Dinner at 8pm at The White Peacock, 14-16 King St, Leicester LE1 6RJ. (Feel free to meet us there if you have other plans that evening.)


9-9.30am Coffee/tea/pastries

9.30-10am Alessandro Vatri (Wolfson College Oxford and Turing Institute London) and Barbara McGillivray (Turing Institute London) "A computational approach to lexical polysemy in Ancient Greek". Introduced by Iain Emsley.

10-10.30am Anupam Basu (Washington University in St Louis) "Spenser's spell: Archaism and historical stylometrics". Introduced by Willard McCarty.

10.30-10.45am Coffee

10.45-11.15am Arianna Ciula and Chris Pak (King's College London) "A corpus linguistic study of 'models' and 'modelling': Intellectual and technical challenges". Introduced by Ronald Haentjens Dekker.

11.15-11.45am Gary Taylor (Florida State University) "Invisible writers: Finding 'Anonymous' in the digital archives". Introduced by Gabriel Egan.

11.45am-12.45pm Closing Address by Hugh Craig (Newcastle University, Australia) "Digital dating: Early modern plays and the 'ever-rolling stream'". Introduced by Gary Taylor.

12.45-12.50 Farewell remarks from conference organizer


We want to thank ...

Funding for this event came from De Montfort University, of course, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant AH/N007654/1).

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