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DF McKenzie Lecture: GIS for Digital Humanities

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  • Thu 29 Jan ’15, 5:00pm – 6:00pm


Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Campus, 12 Waiteata Road, Wellington


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Mapping texts: Using GIS to understand the geographies in large collections of text
Speaker: Ian Gregory, Professor of Digital Humanities, Lancaster University, UK

Traditionally IT-based approaches have largely relied on quantitative sources and have been of limited use to people wanting to analyse texts. Drawing on recent developments in both corpus linguistics and geographical information systems (GIS), this paper will show that this is no longer the case and that digital approaches have much to offer to researchers interested in the geographies that texts contain. Corpus linguistics is concerned with study the language used in a large body of text. GIS is a database technology that is concerned with mapping and analysing spatially referenced data. Bringing these two technologies together allows us to ask questions about what places a corpus – potentially consisting of many billions of words – is talking about and, more importantly, to ask what it is saying about these places.

This paper will draw on a variety of contrasting corpora including Lake District writing, nineteenth century official reports and Early English Books Online. These will be used to illustrate how technology-based approaches can assist humanities researchers in understanding the geographies that texts contain. It will show how the methods can assist with close reading by providing geographical context, and also allow the researcher to develop distant reading approaches that summarise the geographies within texts. These two are not conflicting approaches but can instead be used to complement and reinforce each other.

Venue: Rm. 203 Stout Research Centre

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