DhD 2018 – DH Conference in the German-speaking Countries 2018

A month ago (26th February – 2nd March) the Conference of Digital Humanities in the German-speaking countries (DHd) took place, this year in Cologne. In this post I report on the topics of some of the talks and events that were most relevant for our Special Interest Group “Digital Literary Studies”. Surely, the post is not completely comprehensive in this way, as it reflects my subjective perspective and I am just one conference attendee; there were many other interesting talks! For further inquiries you can check the conference program here  or download the Book of Abstracts.

Before the conference started our colleagues Ulrike Henny-Krahmer and Patrick Sahle published a brilliant post summing up all the submissions to this conference. I think this blog post was one of the most comprehensive specimens of the this type of meta-DH subgenre of blog post that we all enjoy. They analysed types of proposals, topics, number of authors per proposal, gender, age and working place… Here is a visualization of the number of authors per city:

Cologne and Berlin are on the top, followed by Würzburg, Vienna and Stuttgart. It surprises me how few researchers came from Switzerland (only 10, in comparison to 60 from Austria and 444 from Germany); the non-German speaking place best represented was Moscow (12 researchers). Another very nice visualization they made was a network of authors (node) and co-authorships (edges) with the colour marking the working place. The fun part was to try to recognize which colourful bubble you are (I found myself!):

For more information, visit the blog post in the DHd blog (in German).

Even before the conference started, several pre-conference workshops took place that were interesting for Digital Literary Stylistics: CorpusExplorer v2.0, Machine Learning with CRETA, Annotation with ATHEN and a workshop about Embedded Humanities. I attended the latter workshop, organized by Fotis Jannidis and Mike Kestemont (sponsored by DARIAH and Digital Humanities Flanders). You can check the program here, with contributions by David Bamman, Fotis Jannidis, Mike Kestemont, Marc Kupietz, Fabio Ciotti, Christof Schöch and Pim Huijnen. With so many international presenters and everyone talking in English, I almost forgot that it was still part of the German-speaking conference. However I was reminded at the end of each talk, when the audience knocked repeatedly on the tables: the German academic version of an applause! The speakers presented different approaches and use-cases to word embeddings, mainly Topic Modeling and word2vec. The workshop ended with a hands-on tutorial about the new DARIAH tool for topic modelling: Easy Topic Modeling in Python.

The morning of Wednesday had two consecutive sessions in a text mining track, with two talks about word embeddings (one with word2vec with historical texts, the later about religious posts been analyzed with topic modelin), two about stylometry (one about a complicated case of authorship attribution analyzed with Delta, one about new versions of Zeta), as well as on networks of characters in social media and an analysis of the style of the prose of German studies using n-grams.

After lunch, a panel about resources and reviews was held, which among others included the people from the Review journal for digital editions and resources (RIDE). By the way, in the last months, this journal has published two special numbers exclusively about digital collections, the kind of data that we work with, so go ahead and enjoy the RIDE!

In the afternoon two good things happened. First, Christof Schöch, a current Steering Committee member of this SIG, was elected chair (Vorsitzender) of DHd! And second, a new format was presented: Fight Club! At the stage of a bar in downtown Cologne (or was it uptown?), four researchers (three of them professors) each had three minutes to present their take on different topics of the DH.

Who says that the Germans don’t like having fun? This was the less conference-like format that I have seen in a conference anywhere. One of the winners, Professor Henning Lobin, defined the DH as the “Humanities with NSA methods”, which summarizes in only five words pretty well a part of our job.

Thursday, among other things, had a section about Digital Literary Stylistics with talks about digital close reading, direct speech recognition with Deep Learning and recognition of subgenre learning from prototypes.

During the afternoon the poster session took place. Some posters were especially interesting for DLS, like the ongoing work on Delta by Thomas Proisl and Stefan Evert from the University of Erlangen, the corpora and results of the DLINA group (with its sub projects that included a deck of cards of networks based on German literature and a way of play with them), or the brand new DISCO corpus (>4000 sonnets in Spanish, TEI+LOD).

Friday offered a sentiment analysis section across different periods, genres and methodologies. Later on, several talks tackled the annotation of corpora, including the presentation of a shared task on the Systematic Analysis of Narrative Levels Through Annotation (SANTA), and an analysis of the historical critique in Germany that addressed the Verdi Requiem (texts in TEI). The issue of automatic corpus annotation had been addressed on Wednesday by another SIG-DLS member, Berenike Herrmann, who reported on an evaluation of the POS-Tagging of the German Text Archive (DTA).

And the conference was closed with an inspirational keynote hold by C.M. Sperberg-McQueen, who besides being a XML expert speaks German perfectly (Medieval German Literature was part of his PhD). You can still watch the keynotes on the website of the conference.

I hope this was a useful overview of selected topics handled at this year’s Dhd, and that some of you will join us the next year in the double venue Frankfurt and Mainz. Remember: the deadline for abstract submission will be around August and the conference will take place between 25th and 29th of March 2019.

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About José Calvo Tello

José Calvo Tello studied Spanish Philology and learned programming and mark up languages. He has worked both in linguistic and editorial and corpus building projects (Clásicos Hispánicos, Textbox). Currently he analyzes the subgenres of the novels of the Spanish Silver Age in his PhD at the University of Würzburg. To do that, he applies quantitative methodologies like machine learning and stylometry with lexical features, evaluating the results through metadata.

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