Digital Humanities

Open access to research data is evolving in all disciplines to become the future model for scholarly publishing. Special initiatives and programmes have raised awareness of open access and the problems and opportunities associated with it. Yet in the humanities and social sciences, there are still some reservations. OGeSoMo is a project to promote open access publishing in the humanities and social sciences, with a focus on monographs. Its aim is to initiate and encourage open access publications within these disciplines’ existing publishing culture among publishers and authors. The project is working with the UDE library, selected publishers, UA Ruhr and representatives from disciplines with similar publishing cultures to practice-test future support for OA publishing of monographs and collected volumes and develop transparent business models. A particular focus of the project is also on the potential of working with digital publications for media didactics in higher education teaching (Dorothee Graf, University Library, in collaboration with Prof. Beißwenger; funding: BMBF).

Platform development for databases to collect and store digital research data and make results accessible inside and outside the scientific community already features in a series of new projects in our Faculty. The “Mobile Communication Database” project (Prof. Beißwenger, Prof. Evelyn Ziegler with Prof. Wolfgang Imo, Marcel Fladrich, University of Hamburg), for example, is constructing a database and web interface to collect donated digital communications (WhatsApp, text messages, etc.) as a resource for linguistics research and teaching, school teaching, and for language proficiency in German as a foreign/second language. The central feature of the corpus-building method is that those donating their text messages are involved in the data processing. The donated chat feeds are pseudonymised and enriched with metadata. Language-technology partners supply part-of-speech annotations, which extend the possibilities for linguistic research and analysis. The corpus is also intended to be a resource for qualitative studies of language and interaction in messaging applications. The plan is to integrate it in the corpus collection of the IDS Mannheim (Funding: MKW).

A new database is also central to a DFG project by Prof. Alexandra Pontzen, Dennis Borghardt and Sarah Maaß (German Studies) exploring “Literary prizes in German-speaking countries since 1990: functions and effects”. Such prizes (currently around 900 of them) are conventionally thought to influence the hierarchies in the literary field. On that basis, any increase in their number should signify an inflationary loss of quality. The project examines to what extent new prizes benefit regional cultural profile-building, are indicative of socioeconomic transformation in the literary field, combine literary and sociopolitical values and, by raising the status of new genres, practices and media formats, begin to erode the traditional hierarchy of consecration.

Digital data collection and the possibilities it offers are also used especially in subject areas that have an historical element to their work. For example, the interdisciplinary “Arbeitsstelle Edition und Editionstechnik” (AEET, Prof. Gaby Herchert, Dr. Dirk Haferkamp, Dr. Fisseni; German Studies) combines various methods of maintaining and accessing data. Here, hitherto impossible or difficult-to-access documents, files, letters and (specialist) literary texts from private archives are digitally processed and made publicly available in databases and repositories. Junior researchers are also part of this research-related work, with students involved in all stages of accessing and editing archive texts. AEET organises excursions, symposia of between 100 to 120 participants and publishes its own monographs and proceedings. It also cooperates with the website (Prof. Schröder, Dr. Fisseni), through which the “Bonner Frühneuhochdeutschkorpus” (Bonn corpus of Early New High German), texts of Immanuel Kant, and Frege’s “Grundgesetze der Arithmetik” (Basic Laws of Arithmetic), among others, are being digitised and made available online.

The aim of the DFG project “Interactional speech in the plays of Andreas Gryphius: Data based research from the perspective of Linguistics and Literary Studies” (Prof. Wesche; Prof. Wolfgang Imo, University of Hamburg) is to systematically explore interactional language and literary dialogue in the dramatic works of Gryphius using an annotated database. All of the writer’s plays will be made available to provide the infrastructure for analysing structures, functions and considerations of literary stylised speech in his dramatic work. The collated data make it possible for the first time to conduct comprehensive linguistic and literary study of a historical corpus of this kind. Output: database; conference proceedings “Sprechen und Gespräch. Literatur- und sprachhistorische Zugänge”; project volume: “Interaktionale Sprache bei Andreas Gryphius”.

A two-day specialist colloquium, “Integrating a new type of language resource into the Digital Humanities landscape”, in July 2017 considered the current status of and prospects for the development of standards for building and analysing digital communication corpora (organisation: Prof. Beißwenger and Ciara Wigham PhD, Université Clermont Auvergne). Researchers from France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia took part. The central findings of the colloquium were presented at the 5th CMCCORPORA Conference in 2017 in Bolzano and are documented on the event website. A round table was also organised by Beißwenger/Wigham at the UDE in 2017 as part of the Franco-German “Digital Publishing” series of events. Its topic was the use of cooperative writing technologies in e-learning. Seven authors and teams of authors from France and Germany presented current projects (funding: French Embassy in Berlin).