Digital Humanities: The role of the digital in English philology

Section 2 at Anglistentag 2017 at the University of Regensburg, Germany


  • Sabine Bartsch, Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • Ilka Mindt, Universität Paderborn

Anglistentag 2017, 20. – 23. September 2017
Universität Regensburg


The workshop papers are published in the proceedings:

Zwierlein, Anne-Julia / Petzold, Jochen / Boehm, Katharina. eds. 2018. Anglistentag 2017 in Regensburg - Proceedings. WVT Trier.

Extract from the table of contents:

Workshop description

The turn toward the digital is arguably the most powerful and influential among the various so-called turns we have seen in the recent past. Digital data abound in all walks of life and have a profound impact on our social and cultural interaction whether through the internet, social media or other forms of digital communication. Research has thus been concerned in recent years with shedding light on the ways in which digital interaction has influenced language and linguistic interaction, how our reception and production of text has been altered by the now not so new “new media”, how literature has been changed through new forms of textual organisation such as hypertext, and how the digital revolution has changed the way we generally communicate and transmit knowledge.
Yet, the digital has also had a profound impact on theory and methodology. These influences have been especially profound in the philologies as much of the digitally transmitted data is encoded by means of language and artifacts that come in various shapes of text. Digital data require digital methods. These offer ways of looking at philological data that have put philological research on a new footing by not only offering access to ever larger amounts of data and allowing ever faster ways of sifting through these data, but also by enforcing a new rigour of research through what has come to be known under the terms algorithmisation and operationalisation. In the face of large amounts of data and the computational implementations of our research questions, we are forced to rethink our research strategies and the formulation of our hypotheses in order to make them work on new types of data. This has enabled us to re-address many old research questions and put them to the test against the more solid foundation of larger amounts of data, but it has also led to new research questions and new findings that would not have been available to linguists in the pre-digital age. Linguistics is a prime example of a discipline that has received new impetus through a digitally enforced (re-)turn towards empiricism accompanied by a new rigour of research that has changed the face of the discipline by introducing theories and methods previously rather alien to the humanities such as computational implementations of search patterns over text, statistical methods and large data-sets. Linguistics has been thriving on digital corpora and computational methods over the past 50 years since the advent of the first digital corpora and computers at the philologist’s desktop and the main impact has come from English. But what is more, in recent years certain areas of literary studies have likewise been turning towards using linguistic theories and methods in their research and are employing statistical methods in areas such as literary genre analysis and authorship recognition.
The turn towards the digital in linguistics and literary studies can thus be interpreted as a simultaneous turn towards a redefinition of the philologies and a rethinking of our research in the light of large amounts of digital data and computational and statistical methods forcing us to operationalize our research in new and exciting ways.
In this workshop, various fields of English philology had been invited to share their views on these developments and exemplify the ways in which the digital turn has an impact on their research. Broadly, these are:

  • Corpus (and computational) linguistics
  • Literary / computational stylistics
  • Digital cultural studies

In this section at the Anglistentag 2017, we discussed the ways in which digital data and methods have fundamentally changed our research and teaching by enabling different approaches to the phenomena under study.
We had contributions from researchers exemplifying computational implementations of innovative research questions and of “old” research questions shedding interesting light on the findings by either confirming or refuting these on the basis of digital methods and data, statistical approaches to all kinds of digital corpora and text collections, research that adopts current digital tools to new fields of study, methodological papers focusing on linguistic, literary, cultural, computational and/or digital fields of interest.

Workshop programme

Digital Humanities: The role of the digital in English philology programme

Thursday, 21.09.2017, 13:30-15:15
13:30–13:40Workshop introductionSabine Bartsch, Ilka Mindt
13:40–14:10Turning digital in English Linguistics: challenges and opportunitiesMatthias Eitelmann, Ulrike Schneider
14:10–14:40The Power of Publishing: The Implications of Digital Methods on Scientific ResearchAnnika Elstermann
14:40–15:10Zooming in, zooming out:
Why we need critical digital humanities to move from close to distant reading
Nicola Glaubitz
Thursday, 21.09.2017, 15:45 - 17:15
15:45–16:15Shakespeare and Stylometrics: Old and NewMatthias Bauer, Angelika Zirker
16:15–16:45AuthoRank: Mapping the Dynamics of Canon FormationSebastian Domsch
16:45–17:15Digital Humanities: A New Departure in English Dialectology (on the basis of EDD Online)Manfred Markus
Friday, 22.09.2017, 09:00 – 10:00
09:00–10:00Plenarvortrag Tony McEnery
Friday, 22.09.2017, 16:30 – 18:15
16:30–18:15When all Englishes are everywhere: Media globalisation and its implication for digital corpora, retrieval tools and World English studiesChristian Mair
17:00–17:30New digital methodologies for old grammar problems: Corpus analyses and eye-tracking to understand non-native English article usageJosef Schmied, Matthias Hofmann
17:30–18:00NewsScape and the Distributed Little Red Hen Lab – A digital infrastructure for the large-scale analysis of TV broadcastsPeter Uhrig
18:00–18:15ConclusionBartsch / Mindt
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