The EAJS Digital Forum has organised two panels at the EAJS conference:
0.8 EAJS Digital Forum
0.8.I/II Session I: Humanities in the Mirror: Writing Jewish History in a Digital Key
Monday, 16 July, 17.00-19.00
JU Auditorium Maximum, Krupnicza 33, Exhibition Hall, room 2
This panel aims to discuss the meta questions and to consider the implications of DH methods for our perspective on Jewish history. One of the most promising aspects of DH is the concept of big data, which enables us to study and analyze vast corpora of texts. This panel wishes to address the question whether DH corpora and methods will enable us to find a new common ground in the field of Jewish history, which nowadays is characterized by national, regional and local specializations, specific thematic angles and, to greater and lesser extents, a fragmentation of the historical image. Will DH enable us to develop a broader grasp of Jewish history, without returning to the normative reductionism and structuring ideologies of Graetz, Baron and Dubnow, and without losing the subtle potential of post-modern binaries and other productive recent categories?
One of the main topics this panel will address is if and how DH will further enable us to study continuity (in all its complexity), the average, the ‘standard’ and ‘norm’ in Jewish culture. The possibility to study ‘big data’ may open new possibilities to trace long-term processes, continuities and developing ‘normativities’ on a systematic scale. With history generally concentrating on change, this ‘average turn’ may have its implications: can we perhaps begin to rethink such well-worn oppositions as tradition versus modernity, process versus decision making, and to fundamentally reconsider historical categories like periodization, spatiality, mis en intrigue, agency, etc.?
Organized as an interactive ‘think tank’ rather than a series of papers, this panel wants to open the debate on what Jewish historiography might look like when we start writing it in a digital key.
Chair: Andrea Schatz (King’s College London, UK).
- Introduction: Irene Zwiep (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands), Bart Wallet (University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Responses and presentations of digital strategies by Thomas Kollatz (Salomon Ludwig Steinheim-Institut Duisburg/Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz), Gerben Zaagsma (Université de Luxembourg), Ophir Manor-Münz (Open University of Israel), Itay Marienberg-Milikowsky (Universität Hamburg), Evelien Chayes (Université de Bordeaux), Anna de Wilde (Radboud University Nijmegen), Ruth Peeters (University of Amsterdam), Avriel Bar-Levav (Open University of Israel) and Miriam Rurup (Universität Hamburg)
0.8 EAJS Digital Forum
0.8.I/II Session II: New Philologies: Hebrew Manuscript and Print Cultures in a Digital Key
Monday, 16 July, 14.30-16.00
JU Auditorium Maximum, Krupnicza 33, Exhibition Hall, room 1
Recent years have seen a resurgent interest in critical philologies, with numerous new conceptual approaches addressing their potential to elucidate text cultures, their languages and their social and political contexts in widely conceived vertical or horizontal frameworks (such as “deep time” or “world literature”). This new interest in the future of philology is partially linked to the new technical and analytical possibilities offered by the Digital Humanities. This panel pursues two aims: it will invite participants to reflect on promises as well as issues that these new developments raise for Jewish Studies in terms of concepts and methods, and it will provide a forum for all those with projects in progress or project ideas that combine philological and digital approaches to discuss research directions, practical questions and opportunities for cooperation and exchange. Options for developing a systematic and academically driven approach to improving OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for Hebrew scripts will form a further practical focus.
Chair: Professor Irene E. Zwiep (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands)
New Philologies: Hebrew Manuscript and Print Cultures in a Digital Key
Dr Andrea Schatz
New Approaches to Editions with Digital and Computational Means: The eRabbinica Mishnah
Professor Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra, École Pratique des Hautes Études (with Hayim Lapin, University of Maryland)
Technological developments have the potential for changing the way we access, publish, and study rabbinic texts. We report on several areas in which our overlapping projects make use of these new opportunities. Computational approaches, and in particularly the application of neural networks to handwriting recognition, permit the automatic transcription and linguistic enrichment of the text of Medieval Hebrew manuscripts from images, in relatively little time and human effort with reasonably few errors (the Sofer Mahir project). Algorithms for comparing and aligning texts allow for born-digital collation of variants for critical editions (as in our editions of the Mishnah), as well as synoptic editions of related texts (as in our Mishnah/Tosefta project). Digital technologies and increasingly advanced web interfaces make it possible to display carefully produced data from many angles, e.g. textual criticism, linguistics, intertextuality or history in an interactive way, as well as to analyze visualize the results of analysis in the browser. Finally, common standards make it possible to share our data with and make use of tools developed for other projects (specifically the mounting of rabbinic texts to Perseus under their developing CTS standard).
New Philologies & Critical Editions: Projects in Progress & Project Ideas