CREATE Salon: Digitizing the Enlightenment

This month’s topic of our CREATE Salon isDigitizing the Enlightenment, with presentations by:

  • Prof. dr. Alicia de Montoya, Mr. dr. Helwi Blom, Rindert Jagersma MA, and dr. Juliette Reboul

Middlebrow Enlightenment. Disseminating Ideas, Authors and Texts in Europe (1665-1820) (MEDIATE)

MEDIATE is an ERC-funded digital humanities project, based at Radboud University (The Netherlands), and supervised by Prof. Alicia Montoya. The project seeks to study the circulation of books and ideas in eighteenth-century Europe by drawing on an interoperable database of eighteenth-century (printed) private library catalogues.

In this presentation, we focus on the specific challenges faced by this project: issues related to our choice of private library catalogues as a primary source, establishing interoperability with other book history projects, the technical (im)possibilities of OCR, and post-project sustainability

  • Lucas van der Deijl MA, prof.dr. Lia van Gemert, dr. Jaap Kamps, and Erik van Zummeren BA

TOPIC: Tracing tracks of philosophical innovation in digital text corpora

This project investigates the possibilities of topic modeling technologies for research on the dissemination of new philosophical ideas in the Dutch Republic during the period 1650-1725. In his influential work Radical Enlightenment (2001), Jonathan Israel argues that controversial pre-Enlightenment thinkers such as Spinoza not only shook the European intellectual elite but also permeated ‘popular culture’.

In this project we will evaluate the opportunities offered by digital text analysis to verify such quantitative historical claims. We address and propose solutions to the practical, historical and hermeneutical challenges that we face: which topics indicate philosophical engagement? how do we reveal controversial topics in texts that actively attempt to escape censorship? To what extent are the results of our analyses disturbed by linguistic instability in early modern Dutch?

Please be invited to our monthly CREATE Salon on Tuesday 11 April, 15.00-17.00, at the eLab Mediastudies: BG1, room 0.16 (Turfdraagsterpad 9 1012 XT Amsterdam).