Digital Humanities at Oxford
Posted on 24th July 2023 at 13:38
Delighted to attend the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School at Keble College, Oxford this week. Looking forward to learning about Digital Musicology, meeting friends old and new and understanding how I can best use digital resources and technologies to further my research.
1st August 2023
I didn't really know what to expect when I turned up for the summer school and no doubt should have done some of the preliminary reading beforehand. However, now that I have had a few weeks to think more about it, here are some takeaways:
1. There is little doubt that digital research on humanities offers extraordinary potential, but the relative novelty of the field and its breadth make it difficult to define.
2. Although approaches and interests will vary, I rather see the techniques as methodologies or tools for research rather than an end in themselves. The musicology sessions were very focused on the engineering and programming aspects- my focus rests more on using the applications and technology, not on how they work.
3. That said, it is obviously important to know something of the technical side, so as to understand what is feasible. Quite simply you need to be able to ask the right questions, in the right way.
4. There was a very interesting talk by Dr. Chanda VanderHart on her work on the New Year Concert over the years given by the VPO. Dr. VanderHart presented how Signature Sound Vienna, a research project at the mdw — University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna assimilates close and distance listening, data tooling and discourse analysis to study the sound and style of the concert over time. https://iwk.mdw.ac.at/signature-sound-vienna/
5. Some key takeaways on ‘Digital Temptations’ as identified by Dr Kevin Page and David Lewis:
The temptation of perfect data (data is rarely perfect, complete, or comprehensive)
The temptation of scale (Methods which scale make compromises to do so)
The temptation of computational objectivity (data and methods are not neutral)
The temptation of universal meaning (maintain a balance between conference and discourse)
6. I will be considering how best to use the techniques in my future research, in particular on how to assist with developing social network analysis of composers and patrons in 18th-century London.
I certainly recommend the summer school- interesting speakers, a friendly atmosphere, and a wide range of interesting and enthusiastic participants from all over the world. There is also plenty of valuable reading materials for further study, which I will try to look through before attending a future session.
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