LUCDH Lunch Talk: Daily Forecasts and the Dutch Image of Europe
- Joris van Eijnatten
- 21 September 2017
2311 BD Leiden
There’s something about the weather...
The LUCDH is pleased to announce that Joris van Eijnatten, historian at Utrecht University and a KB-fellow, as well as a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Science (NIAS), will be our first speaker this term. Using the newspaper database Delpher, van Eijnatten exposes cultural patterns relevant to the Netherlands and Europe:
Historical newspapers offer insight into the collective mentalities of the past. Because a collective mentality emerges through the iterative nature of information exchange (religious upbringing, school education and public media are significant examples of such exchanges), frequency counts gleaned from media involving a high degree of periodicity, such as newspapers, are a logical means of outlining the contours of such a mentality. In addition, for domain experts (in my case historians), simple counts produce intuitively more convincing results than the complicated ‘shock and awe’ algorithms often vaunted in digital humanities projects. The research for this lecture focuses on twentieth-century Dutch newspapers, employing weather reports to trace popular conceptions of Europe as part of a collective mentality. The material was analysed using a series of techniques, including some very simple ones, while the results were visualised through graphic displays. In this paper I will attempt to show that, pace the many sceptics in my own discipline, mere frequency counts generated on the basis of a corpus of serial documents directly support historical analysis, and that tailor-made visualizations can be put to good use in the process.