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Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities


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Dear friends and colleagues,

The spring semester is in full swing; we look forward to welcoming you at the Centre for Digital Humanities!

Events LUCDH

Lectures The LUCDH sponsors a talk series in the digital humanities. We have three talks scheduled for the rest of the semester.

March 29: Stephanie Leone (Boston College): 'Network Analysis and Building Baroque Rome' Eyckhof 2/003, 12:00hr

Stephanie Leone will present her current project on papal patronage of architectural projects in seventeenth century Rome. Leone uses historical network analysis to de-emphasize the artist-patron relationship that commonly frames research on the topic to “stress the processes of artistic production and the mechanics of patronage.” Leone argues this approach is well suited for studying “Innocent X’s practice of harnessing a wide stable of creative and skilled architects, artists, and artisans...”

April 24: Sabine Niederer (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences): 'Networked Content Analysis: The Case of Climate Change' Lipsius 236, 14:00 hr

Sabine developed the concept of ‘networked content analysis’ to refer to the adaptation and use of content analysis techniques to study networked digital media. Niederer uses network content analysis to study how climate change, one of the major societal challenges of our times, is understood on the web.

May 17: Peter Boot (Huygens ING) ''Distant Reading': Analyzing Online Book Reviews' Lipsius 147, 12:00hr

Peter Boot will discuss the impetus behind creating a distant reading tool that can analyze reader responses contained within the Online Dutch Book Response (ODBR) database. In the past, it was difficult to study how non-professional readers reacted to the books they read. As lay readers have begun to write about books online, scholars now have a new avenue to study book response. Boot argues that quantitatively studying these responses is a valuable, if limited, proxy for understanding how Dutch readers evaluate the books they read.


March 23 Martin Kroon and Sjef Barbiers, organizers ‘Vectors and Linguistics: A Workshop on Word Embeddings.’ Lipsius 127/227

Vector representations and word embeddings have become increasingly popular in linguistic research. By representing words in a continuous vector space where semantically similar words are embedded close to each other, scholars can conduct simple mathematical operations on words.

In the morning session, Suzan Verberne (LIACS) will teach a hands-on tutorial on how to work with word embeddings. The afternoon session will consist of lectures presenting research in linguistics done with word embeddings and vector representations.

Please enroll for the workshop here, as space in the morning session is limited to 18 participants. Please indicate whether you plan to come for the whole workshop, or only for the morning or the afternoon. Lunch will not be provided.

Leiden Lectures in Media | Art | Politics (MAP-Lectures)

The MAP-lectures, organized by Pepita Hesselberth and Yasco Horsman from LUCAS, will likely be of interest to affiliates of the LUCDH.

April 25: Inge van de Ven (Tilburg University) “Monumental Novels: Big Books in Times of Big Data” Lipsius 227, 17:00hr

Inge van de Ven (Tilburg University) will address the materiality of modern big books as they shift from physical to digital objects. Van de Ven will discuss how big books’ “bulk, [affective] powers, and ability to inhabit spaces, [are] part and parcel of their ways of making sense of our experiences in and of a changing media landscape.” She argues that “monumental novels and big books make a double gesture of adaptation to, and provocation of, the shift to digital media and the ideologies of big data.”

More events: Keep an eye on our website, Facebook, and Twitter feeds for updates on our events.


Digital Humanities Minor Bachelor’s students at Leiden University now have the opportunity to minor in the Digital Humanities. The center offers both 15 and 30 EC packages. In the fall semester, the Centre gave introductory courses ranging from the methods-focused “Hacking the Humanities: An Introduction to the Digital Humanities and Text Mining,” to the more theoretical and contemporary “New Media and Society” course. Students interested in the theory and practice of data visualization also took “Data Visualization and the Humanities.”

This spring semester, the centre is offering courses that apply digital methods in specific academic domains. “Digital Detectives: Detective Literature Under a Digital Microscope” is a literature class in which students study the development and reception of detective fiction in the Anglophone world vis-a-vis digital technology. In “Digital Approaches to Historical Inquiry,” students study how history is represented through digital media and how digital methods can be used to study history.

The minor is project-based and culminates in the “Special Topics in Digital Humanities” course. In this class, students create a digital research project, exhibit, or creative endeavor in consultation with a Leiden University faculty member. Many students choose a project that is related to their planned major, but some branch out to fields beyond this. The centre will exhibit exemplary projects on our website upon completion.

The minor teaches students how and when to ethically use digital tools/methods for literary, historical, linguistic, and new media studies. If you, or any of your students, are interested in taking the minor or incorporating similar methods into your own courses please reach out to Paul Vierthaler or Angus Mol for more information.


New University Lecturer

The LUCDH is happy to welcome Dr. Angus Mol as the Centre’s new UD! Dr. Mol holds a PhD in Archaeology from Leiden University. He is currently teaching the “Digital Approaches to Historical Inquiry” course.

New student assistant

In January 2018, Cathinka Camfferman replaced Laura op de Beke as the centre’s student assistant. You can reach her at lucdh@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

LUCDH Small Grants

The LUCDH has awarded nine small research grants to foster the development of new digital research. We are helping scholars create databases, x-ray fragile letters, conduct text analysis, map historical information, and more. These projects began in February and awardees will be presenting their work at a symposium near the end of the Spring semester.

External News:

VSNU Digital Society Research Agenda Dutch Universities presented a new research agenda, found here, to the Dutch minister Van Engelshoven, which "aims to secure the Netherlands a leading international position in the field of human-centred information technology. In our view, the seven research programme lines incorporated in this agenda offer enormous opportunities with the potential for global impact." More from Wetenschapsagenda here.

Need help with a project?

The LUCDH is a valuable source of expertise for scholars looking to incorporate digital elements in their research. Centre faculty continue to be available to advise scholars seeking to implement computational methods into their research. If you are in need of advice don't hesitate to get in touch with Paul Vierthaler (p.a.vierthaler@hum.leidenuniv.nl) or Angus Mol (a.a.a.mol@hum.leidenuniv.nl). We anticipate many of these projects will grow to fruition in coming terms. As they mature, we hope to share them with you on our website.


The Digital Humanities Student Network (DH/SN) is growing rapidly. The network’s
meetings have proved very productive. If you are a Ph.D. student struggling with a DH-related problem, these meetings offer an opportunity to present it to peers and to try and work through it together. If you are interested in joining the group, contact Jing Hu at j.hu@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Thank you for being a part of the Leiden University Digital Humanities community! We hope we can help advise you on your new and continuing projects! We also hope you will join us for our lecture series, and we very much look forward to seeing you soon.


Cathinka Camfferman                            c.s.camfferman@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Hilde De Weerdt                                    h.g.d.g.de.weerdt@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Angus Mol                                              a.a.a.mol@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Paul Vierthaler                                       p.a.vierthaler@hum.leidenuniv.nl


Dear friends and colleages,

It has been just over five months since the Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities (LUCDH) opened its doors to staff and students. And we have hardly been sitting still. In this, our first, newsletter we present an overview of what we have been up to during the past few months and a look ahead at upcoming events.
The first five months
The LUCDH was born from an initiative to track and pool digital research in and around the humanities faculty. From the onset the digital humanities hub would serve a number of functions: to support scholars engaged in DH research; to provide a place for the exchange of knowledge with the express aim to evaluate the pros and cons of digital and analogue research, quantitative and qualitative methods; as well as to educate a new generation of scholars. As this overview hopefully shows, we are making some real progress towards accomplishing these goals.  

The LUCDH opening on April 20 featured speakers from all institutes of the humanities faculty. Keynote speaker Karina van Dalen-Oskam demonstrated how computational methods offer insights into our reading habits, by allowing her to break down Dutch readership by gender, age, preferred genre and author. Her analysis also shed light on conceptions of ‘literariness’ which stick readily to some authors and genres but not others, perpetuating a stubborn gender bias.  

During the spring the LUCDH also featured a series of lunch talks with scholars both international and local. With the help of LUCIS spring fellow Sarah Savant, the LUCDH managed to persuade Maxim Romanov, research fellow at the university of Leipzig, to visit Leiden for a couple of days. On May 10, Romanov amazed us with an elaborate biographical database of early Islamic authors. When visualized the data told a sweeping story of historical, religious, and sociological developments in the Middle East. Additionally, on May 18 Visiting scholar at Leiden and Associate professor of English and American studies at the College of William and Mary, Elizabeth Losh, gave a crash course in digital feminism. Her message that the contextual and embodied realities of digital labour ought not to be dismissed is one that bears repeating. Last but not least Laurents Sesink and Peter Verhaar from the Centre for Digital Scholarship at Leiden gave a presentation on the IIIF, the international image interoperability framework, a viewer software that allows scholars to interact more efficiently with digital images. 

New staff

Since its opening the LUCDH has been delighted to welcome new staff members Morana Lukac (LUCAS) and Serge Ter Braake (LIH) who will be teaching in the BA minor, as well as two Ph.D students. Lukac and Ter Braake will be taking over Javier Cha's courses in the minor. We were sorry to say goodbye to Javier, who was offered a tenure-track position at Seoul National University in July. We already miss him and wish him every luck in South Korea. Meanwhile our Ph.D students Martin Kroon and Manolis Fragkiadakis soldier valiantly on. Martin will be working on a project set up by Sjef Barbiers on detecting cross-linguistic syntactic differences automatically. Manolis is exploring new methods in comparing sign language corpora alongside Victoria Nyst. 


The LUCDH is a valuable source of expertise for scholars looking to incorporate digital elements in their research. In the past five months lecturer at the LUCDH, Paul Vierthaler, has been helping out in a number of ways: from giving tips on writing grants, to planning research. If you are in need of advice don't hesitate to get in touch (p.a.vierthaler@hum.leidenuniv.nl). We anticipate many of these projects will grow to fruition in coming terms. As they mature, we hope to share them with you on our website!

BA minor
Perhaps most importantly, Paul Vierthaler and Javier Cha have been working throughout the summer to set up a BA minor in Digital Humanities. More information about the curriculum can be found here. The minor is accessible to all BA3 humanities students regardless of whether they have a background in programming. It aims to familiarize students with new ways to analyze and study languages and culture, and to provide insight into the ways in which digital media are changing human experience and society. We are looking forward to seeing what students will bring to the table and how they will leverage digital skills to develop their own projects and interests. The LUCDH is hosting a start-of-term event for all enrolled minor students in the second week of September.
Upcoming events

Joris van Eijnatten  a cultural historian at Utrecht University, will be kicking off this term’s exchanges over lunch. Last year, as part of his KB-fellowship, van Eijnatten studied the changing face of Europe in the 20th century using a combination of text and data mining techniques. His focus is on 20th-century Dutch newspapers which he subjects to frequency counts, thereby tracking public opinion about Europe, a timely topic about which you can read more here

LUCDH small grants

The deadline to apply to the LUCDH small grants fund is November 15. This leaves plenty of time to send in your application if you need funds to cover the cost of a summer school, a small project, or any software or services you may need for your research.
Ph.D. reading group

Given the great interest the LUCDH's BA minor has garnered among Ph.D. students at Leiden, we are pleased to announce that two of them: Sander Stolk and Hu Jing have have taken the innitiative to start a Ph.D DH reading group. For more information, or if you are interested in joining the group you can contact Jing at j.hu@hum.leidenuniv.nl. 

That was it! We hope to have updated you on our past activities and upcoming events, and we very much look forward to seeing you there.

Hilde De Weerdt                                      
Paul Vierthaler                                         
Laura op de Beke                                   

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