Quantitative Social Sciences for the Humanities: How Much Does "the Digital" Matter for Distant Reading?

A discussion hosted by Berkeley Digital Humanities Working Group and Computing and the Practice of History
Please register here.
The concept of digital humanities is so loosely defined that at the moment it tends to absorb a number of other debates. In literary studies, for instance, the projects of surface reading and especially distant reading are often conflated with "DH," although computers play only a supporting role in much of this scholarship.
I want to consider this alignment of trends from two angles — acknowledging that it's partly an accident of public perception, but also trying to tease out a more substantive underlying rationale for it. Using a couple of examples from my own recent collaborations, I'll emphasize a curiously indirect but important way computers are contributing to the humanities right now: by making the quantitative social sciences more useful for humanists.
Event Presenter Bio:

Ted Underwood:

I teach English literature (mostly British, mostly from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I was trained as a Romanticist, but at this point my research is as much about information science as literary criticism. I’m especially interested in applying machine learning algorithms to large digital collections. Because “large digital collections” don’t quite exist yet in the form we would need for interesting literary research, a lot of my work involves correcting and enriching them. Some collaborative work on those problems is presented at usesofscale.com. The project I’m exploring most actively at the moment applies classification algorithms to enrich page-level metadata about genre in a collection of a million volumes. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 12:15pm
registration required
D-Lab Convening Room 356