Digital Humanities Community Day Abstracts

Presentations from the day are available here


10.10am – 10.40am

Jennifer Richards, Director of Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute

Animating Text Newcastle University: Making Digital Books

Major research presentations

10.40am – 11.40am and 1.15pm – 2pm

"The World Turned Upside-Down?": Hamilton and the Public's History in the Digital Age

Esther Wilson, Postgraduate Researcher, Department of History, University of York

In an age of increasing digital dependence and integration, my research explores from a public history standpoint the impact of evolving digital technologies on the formation, circulation and public consumption of historical ideas and knowledge in contemporary societies. Shaped around performativity and the case study of Hamilton: An American Musical, my work hopes to not only offer transmedial reflections upon the significance of digitality (particularly given the context of the Covid-19 pandemic), but reflect on what methodological considerations ought to be given with regards to present and future historical practice (both quantitative and qualitative). I'm delighted to have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts at the N8 Digital Humanities Community Day.

Why museums should be bad at social media

Ellen Charlesworth, PhD candidate at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Durham

The number of museums that use social media has massively increased over the last decade. Our latest research estimates that the majority use social media, with 86% having a Facebook account (Charlesworth et al. 2023). This high uptake provides a fantastic opportunity to reach new audiences and some organisations have experienced phenomenal success; the Royal Academy’s top YouTube video has 7.5 million views, while the Black Country Living Museum’s TikTok account has accumulated 22.4 million likes.

But what do these numbers actually represent? By unpicking the factors that shape these metrics, this talk investigates what makes an upload popular, and asks how useful these numbers are to museums. ‘Shares’, ‘likes’, and ‘views’ are designed to facilitate a certain type of interaction—motivated by platforms’ commercial interests—which bears little similarity to the inter-community dialogue and meaningful engagement museums are trying to facilitate. Yet, as digital adoption in the sector increases, these easily accessible social media metrics are likely to become widespread measures of success. By exploring how this may shape cultural content online, this talk explores the possibility that museums will optimise their content for the platform’s algorithms rather than audience engagement.

Charlesworth, Ellen, Andrew M. Beresford, Claire Warwick, and Leonardo Impett. 2023. ‘Understanding Levels of Online Participation in the UK Museum Sector’. Museum Management and Curatorship, March, 1–24.

Noehrer, Lukas, Abigail Gilmore, Caroline Jay, and Yo Yehudi. 2021. ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Data Practices in Museums and Art Galleries in the UK and the US’. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 8 (1): 236.

Digital Explorations: Opening the Medieval Manuscript Fragments from the Ripon Cathedral Library

Dr N. Kıvılcım Yavuz, Lecturer in Medieval Studies and Digital Humanities, University of Leeds

This presentation will feature the Digital Explorations: Opening the Medieval Manuscript Fragments from the Ripon Cathedral Library project supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Research England under the Enhancing Research Culture funding stream. Running between February and July 2023, ‘Digital Explorations’ aims to enhance research culture at the University of Leeds in the field of Digital Humanities through a pilot study focusing on manuscript fragments from the Ripon Cathedral Library housed in Special Collections at the Brotherton Library of the University of Leeds Libraries.

The field of manuscript studies has received renewed interest in the last two decades especially due to advancements in digital technologies and the growing field of digital humanities. The study of manuscript fragments, also known as fragmentology, is a recently developing field as part of manuscript studies. The Ripon Cathedral Library Collection includes little-studied medieval and early modern manuscripts and printed books. Even less studied, and some as yet unknown, are the fragments found within bindings. Through open lectures and intensive training workshops by invited experts, ‘Digital Explorations’ creates a broader base of research culture stakeholders and makes openly available data and findings relating to an under-utilised collection relevant to local history and heritage.

Eighteenth-Century Libraries Online : Subscription Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Anglophone Atlantic, 1731-1801.

Mark Towsey, Professor of the History of the Book and Sophie Jones, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of History, University of Liverpool

The central aim of our project is to collect and make available in a single Open Access database the largest collection of contextualised bibliometric data on eighteenth-century subscription library holdings, membership and usage ever assembled. As of May 2023, the database offers users detailed information on over 100,000 acts of borrowing, 35,000 separate library holdings and 10,000 library members associated with 90 libraries established across North America and the British Isles between 1731 and 1801. The 14,000 book titles featured in the database include classic novels by the likes of Cervantes, Henry Fielding and Fanny Burney, the works of Enlightenment writers David Hume, Edward Gibbon, Montesquieu and Mary Wollstonecraft, as well as less well-known writers like travel writer and novelist John Moore (the most widely borrowed author in our database) and Charlotte Turner Smith (a very close second!). This data is being used to shed dramatic new light on the contribution of books and reading to social, cultural and political change in an age of Enlightenment and Revolution, providing critical interventions in the social history of ideas, the history of reading and literary history, while the project team are also engaged in close collaborative work with other bibliographical databases from this period to promote open linked data and interoperability.

Eighteenth-Century Political Participation and Electoral Culture (ECPPEC)

Matthew Grenby, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Professor of 18th-Century Studies, and Tom Schofield, Reader in Digital Cultures, Newcastle University

Eighteenth-century Britain is notorious for its corrupt and restrictive politics, when few could vote and bribery and debauchery were commonplace. But it was also an age when modern democracy was being shaped.

The ECPPEC online resource collects in one place a wealth of information on English parliamentary elections from 1695 to the Reform Act of 1832. This includes a wealth of information on poll books, which record how people voted. This polling data can is presented digitally, allowing it to be searched, presented and analysed in new ways.

But also online are wonderful examples of the visual, material and musical culture that surrounded elections, allowing us to get a sense of how whole communities, including both voters and non-voters, participated in these unique cultural and political experiences.

Linguistic DNA: in search of the conceptual structure of early modern English

Professor Susan Fitzmaurice, Head and Vice President, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Professor of English Language, the University of Sheffield.

The AHRC-funded Linguistic DNA project was a collaboration between the universities of Sheffield, Glasgow and Sussex, and the Digital Humanities Institute at Sheffield. Its principal aim was to understand the evolution of early modern thought by modelling the semantic and conceptual changes, which occurred in English printed discourse between c.1500 and c.1800. However, while developing algorithms that could do the modelling computationally, we engineered a new way to retrieve information based on meaning and context rather than simple keywords. We called this process ‘concept-modelling’.

In this talk, I offer an overview of the project and our findings. I describe how the computational processes underpinning Linguistic DNA came to make it a big data Digital Humanities project, with high compute needs necessitating the use of services such as Amazon AWS. I discuss how the process of concept-modelling unlocked the search for conceptual structure in a particular universe of early modern discourse: EEBO-TCP, and share some of our findings from the project. I touch on the implications of our assumptions and methodology for theories of semantics and the notion of the concept. Finally, I discuss the uses and applications of concept modelling in domains other than computational linguistics.


12pm – 1.15pm

Lightning talk sessions

11.40am – 12pm and 2pm – 3pm

Communication of lived experience of school preparedness plans through 360° recordings co-produced by children inhabiting spaces at risk of natural hazards

Andrea Vásquez, University of Leeds

Applications of Digital Mapping and Environmental History to Climate Mitigation and Action in South India

Charlotte Evans, Lancaster University


Brett Greatley-Hirsch, University of Leeds

Dickens Search

Emily Bell, University of Leeds

Engaging with Complex Television Crime Drama: Moral and Artistic Value in Gomorra – La serie (Seasons 1-3) and Twitter Audience Responses

Alessio Baldini, University of Leeds

‘I think Instagram worsens their anxiety’: Psycho-social wellbeing amongst women and queer British South Asian Instagrammers

Priya Sharma, University of Manchester

AIAI: Artificial Intelligence, Art and Indigeneity

Thea Pitman, University of Leeds

Round table discussion

3.30pm – 4.10pm

Claire Warwick (chair), Professor in the Department of English Studies, University of Durham

Sophie Jones, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of History, University of Liverpool

Simon Popple, Academic Lead Digital Creativity and Cultures Hub, University of Leeds

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