Digital Humanities in English Language and Literature Studies in Belgium.
Current Trends, Future Prospects
In the last decades, digital approaches to research and education have gradually become more current practice across academia, and the Humanities are no exception. Apart from facilitating existing research, computational tools and methods open exciting new avenues of enquiry in the domains of literature, linguistics and translation studies.
The University of Antwerp, which will host BAAHE 2020, has been actively involved in Digital Humanities both in the fields of literature and linguistics, with research groups such as ACDC (Antwerp Centre for Digital humanities and literary Criticism) and CLiPS (Computational Linguistics & Psycholinguistics) carrying out a range of projects that are grounded in digital methodologies. At the BAAHE 2020 conference, we wish to take stock of the Digital Humanities projects that are conducted in English departments across Belgian universities, and to reflect on what the future might hold in store for this rapidly developing field.
Linguistics has long embraced the power of digital technology to study language. Computational methods were applied to language analysis almost as soon as the first digital electronic calculating machines started to emerge. The compilation of computer corpora represents another fundamental scientific development in linguistic research. English corpora have mushroomed throughout the world and currently lead to many significant discoveries about how English and its many varieties (e.g. native, learner, World Englishes) are used. They have contributed significant knowledge to the fields of linguistic theory, lexicology, lexicography, language teaching and testing, psycholinguistics, as well as translation studies, to name but a few. The availability of large corpora and corpus methods has additionally laid the groundwork for the current explosion of Natural Language Processing applications which are steering linguistics into a new “golden age” by relying for instance on Big Data, the Web as a Corpus or multi-modal data.
As fundamentally a linguistic problem, the field of translation studies was able to build on this solid computational basis, and initiate a digital revolution in its own right – with Statistical (SMT) and Neural Machine Translation (NMT) techniques paving the way to the development of automatic translation software that is rapidly becoming an invaluable assistant for amateur and professional translators alike. As the field ventures further into the realm of multimodal language data, topics such as direct speech to text translation are no longer purely materials for science fiction, but actually come within our reach.
The field of literature, then, has also greatly benefited from the rise of born-digital and digitized literary corpora, and the computational analyses they enable. Distant reading methods allow us to examine literary trends and connections on a much larger scale; stylometry gives us a new tool to substantiate claims of authorship attribution; text reuse detection software allows us to expose plagiarism as well as intertextual links; keystroke logging and assistive creative writing software allow us to examine born-digital writing processes on a much deeper level; and in the field of textual scholarship, the digital medium has transformed the way we conceptualise, visualise, publish, and analyse the scholarly editions of literary and historical documents that are of such crucial importance within the disciplines of literary studies, philology, history, bibliography, and library and information science.
The BAAHE 2020 conference therefore invites participants to share their DH experience, discuss the challenges and opportunities this experience has yielded, and to outline their future plans with regard to DH applications – specifically in the fields of English literature, linguistics and translation studies. To this end, the organising committee encourages BAAHE members to submit proposals that apply topics such as (but not limited to) the following to English language materials:
- The theory and practice of applying Digital Humanities methods to English literature, linguistics and translation studies
- New advances in the development of (and applications for)
- Corpus Linguistics
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools (part-of-speech tagging, n-gram searches, sentiment analysis, etc.)
- Stylometric methods
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Computer-Mediated Communication
- Computer-assisted language teaching and learning o Corpus-driven translation
- Machine translation
- Automatic subtitling
- The theory and practice of digital philology, textual scholarship, and genetic criticism
- Multimodal approaches to language
- The application of Machine Learning approaches to digital text analysis
- Tool development, usability studies, and tool criticism
- Presentations of DH-related projects
Please send your abstracts of 300 words to BAAHE2020@uantwerpen.be by 15 August 2020 (extended deadline!). Please also specify in the abstract whether you will be presenting a paper in the field of literature, linguistics, or translation studies. You will be notified on the decision by the end of August 2020.
In the event that COVID-19 interferes with our plans, an alternative solution will be suggested.