So I went to hear three talks on Wednesday morning. They were:
- The Marenzio Online Digital Edition (MODE): Reading and Performing Music in a Web-Based Dynamic Environment (Mauro Calcagno and Laurent Pugin) (abstract: Added
- Visual Exploration of Medieval Textual Histories: the Case of the French of Italy (Laura Morreale, Abigail Sargent, David Wrisley) (abstract)
- Nature in American Realism and Romanticism and the Problem with Genre (Martin Groff) (abstract)
Let me go through them one by one.
This seemed like a cool and logical extension of the DH Project into the realm of music, for, indeed, why should DH only deal with the written word? It was fascinating, actually, to learn about 16th century composition. The presenter (Laurent Pugin), a frenchmen, had digitized the works of a notable 16th century Italian composer, whose name I'm blanking on. His work was notable because it was published in booklets which contained only the score / information for a single voice. Thus each singer only had access to their own part. I'm not sure if this was the way all scores were published back in the day, or just this composer's, but apparently it's very odd these days. Pugin and Calcagno's project took the old way that these works were digitized — that is, there was a PDF file, a text file, and another pat I'm forgetting about — and made from it a new, sleek, all in one digital thing that is still backwards compatible.
This seemed like something similar to one of our personal projects, in fact. These researchers, mostly based at Fordham U, created a map of French lit published in Italy from the 1200s to the 14 or 1500s. The dots on the map, which represented works and where they were published, also were color-coded and shaped to represent genre. So we could see, for instance, that in the 1300 Naples became a center of historical publishing — for, apparently, interesting political reasons. One key challenge these researchers faced was that the dates of publication for many books are uncertain, so that they had to remain on the map for many, often even a hundred, years, this being the period in which they might have been published. This unfortunately makes these books seem more prominent than books just published specifically in one year — when actually the reverse is likely to be true, as these works were less well documented and thus probably less popular. The researches said that this minor quirk was OK as long as one was aware of it in their analysis of the map. They also included boxes of books literally in the ocean to represent books for which the location of publication is uncertain.
- This project focused on transcendental and realist works in 19th century American lit. The researcher wanted to discover whether or not realist works were really more or less concerned with environmental protection than transcendental works. They are thought of as having a more practical emphasis — but perhaps they don't, really. He employed textual analysis to track the appearance of various "nature" words in a notable anthology of realist short stories, and also to track the appearance of "civilization" words in this anthology. At this point I might be confused about how this was (or maybe wasn't) supposed to deal with transcendental lit as well: but it certainly did test the hypothesis that realist lit was concerned with the environment. He showed that the appearance of environmental terms varied vastly from story to story. Still, his methods seemed a bit simplistic: he merely chose words he thought would be representative, rather than doing a more in-depth analysis, and he only investigated a single anthology. I think more work needs to be done to draw definite conclusions about the importance of nature in realist work. #keydh #summary