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Learning DH and Networking across Europe with CLARIN

A blog post by Thorsten Trippel (Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany)

Take 70 international young scholars in the digital humanities (DH), 11 different classes taught by experienced experts, a couple of presentations by scholars showing their work from various DH subfields, add a social program with excursions to museums and sites of culture: Voilà. In the summer 2017, "Culture & Technology" - The European Summer University in Digital Humanities (ESU) was an excellent venue for scholars to learn about and practice DH methods, expand their horizon to different research questions in the DH and create international networks of expertise. Existing tools and data sets were utilized to demonstrate usecases and to work on classroom projects based on participants’ interests. CLARIN, as a major contributor to the DH infrastructure in Europe, strongly supported these activities by sponsoring classes related to the CLARIN services, which provide tools, data sets, and workflows.

Figure 1. ESU 2017 organizers: Elisabeth Burr and her team organized the summer school at Leipzig University

Organized by an enthusiastic team around Elisabeth Burr, the summer school, which was established at the University of Leipzig, Germany, in 2009, was again co-sponsored by CLARIN – besides receiving funding from Leipzig University, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and other national and international institutions.  This allowed about 70 participants from almost all over the world to take part in the proceedings of the summer school, including intensive courses in small groups applying DH methods and working on research questions. From Russia to the USA, with the majority of participants coming from European countries ranging from Bulgaria to France, the summer school was an international networking event for young scholars and international experts in DH.

Figure 2. Participants of ESU 2017 listening to a presentation on an international art project

CLARIN sponsored a number of classes, ranging from introductions to digital technologies, to core services of the European infrastructure. For example, Christoph Draxler of the CLARIN centre in Munich introduced participants to methods applied in the digital humanities. In one class, he familiarized the participants with programming for the web, and in another with SQL and graph databases. Other classes demonstrated the full range of CLARIN services for the DH community. They covered all aspects of the data lifecycle, from the creation of digital resources, via analysis to archiving and preparing them for reuse. Axel Herold and Henriette Ast, both from the CLARIN centre at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, used their practical experience in building one of the largest resources of historical textual material, the German Text Archive (DTA), in a practical class on the workflow of creating digital editions based on print or manuscript data. Existing electronic data was re-used by Jochen Tiepmar and Monica Berti (CLARIN centre at Leipzig University) in a class on text mining methodologies and the use of a text reference system for citation analysis, text alignment, etc. Finally, the CLARIN services and expertise for data management combined with legal and ethical issues were placed into context in a class on data management by Pawel Kamocki (CLARIN centre Mannheim) and Thorsten Trippel (CLARIN centre Tübingen).

Figure 3. Class on DH methodologies: Christoph Draxler's class on programming for the web

A supportive program, contextualizing the ESU curriculum with research projects, cultural activities and networking events, complemented the individual classes. A good example this year was the excursion to the Museum of the Printing Arts in Leipzig that illustrated traditional publication technologies from first printing presses to modern technologies, which preceded modern digital methods as applied in the DH. With this multifaceted program, the ESU summer school 2017 achieved the goal of sharing methods, technologies and competences with international young scholars in DH. The ESU summer school 2017 was successful in training and enabling participants to apply knowledge and services provided by research infrastructures like CLARIN. (Text: Thorsten Trippel. Pictures courtesy of Christoph Draxler)

Further Information 

ESU website


Teaching Material of the CLARIN classes of 2017 

Figure 4. Lead letters at the Museum for the Printing Arts in Leipzig