e-Rome: Background

Background of e-Rome: Mapping Visions of Rome (Susanna de Beer)

The workshop is related to my 2014-15 NIAS fellowship and the development of a research database ‘Mapping Visions of Rome’, which is currently under construction. The main goal of this database is to make available a collection of Latin poetry (ranging from ancient to early modern) related to the city and symbol of Rome, and to offer tools to analyze these texts individually or comparatively and map them on various literary, geographical and chronological axes. This means, among others:

  • To offer digital texts of (humanist) Latin poetry about Rome, include the most important background information and bibliography, and distinguish by means of cross-references the most important elements in these texts with regard to the city and symbol of Rome (i.e. tagging references to (Roman) locations; history & myth; characters; personifications; narrative motifs; topics; symbols).
  • To identify the geographical data (locations & monuments) that are mentioned in the texts in order to visualize them on a map.
  • To offer chronological information about the authors and texts, in order to enable analysis of (the elements of) images of Rome in relation to their time of writing.
  • To offer the possibility to apply tools from computational linguistics or stylistics to the corpus of Latin texts in the database

Further, in order to make this database useful not only for the analysis of Latin poetry about Rome, but also for interdisciplinary research with regard to the city and symbol of Rome, it is crucial that elements in the texts and metadata are identified in a uniform way, so that they can be linked to or integrated in (digital projects in) related areas, like archaeology, history, art-history. This means among others:

  • To offer biographical information about authors and persons mentioned in the texts, to enable integration with other biographical resources.
  • To identify and tag geographical data (locations/monuments) in such a way (using unique ID’s and geographical coordinates) that they can be integrated with other geographical resources with regard to Rome.
  • To identify artistic artefacts and (archaeological) monuments by using unique ID’s or Iconclass codes, in order to enable further research into (the history of) these objects by integrating it with other digital resources (e.g. ancient monuments, ruins, statues).
  • To identify elements in the narrative, ranging from characters/stories from myth or history, to the use of certain (visual) symbols, motifs or themes, in a uniform way (e.g. using Iconclass) to enable comparative, interdisciplinary research into the use of these same elements in literature and the visual arts (iconography / literary images).

The innovation of this database is in the way it integrates metadata about texts (and their authors) with metadata retrieved from the texts (= tags) with the full-texts themselves. However, the various data and dimensions it consists of are in themselves not new in the field of Digital Humanities. This means that for the further development of the database it is crucial to have knowledge of the state-of-the-art research and technology in these areas. Moreover, since interdisciplinary use of the database is envisioned from the outset, knowing which standards to adopt and what methods for data-integration are available is another key issue in the development of the project.

The relevance of these issues of course goes beyond this specific project, but concerns everyone working in the field of Digital Humanities, especially since so many projects tend to integrate different kinds of data. For that reason this workshop proposes to bring together a group of people from Digital Humanities Projects related to Rome, that both represent a wide range of methodologies and technologies, but whose research topics offer the potential for collaboration and data-integration.

The workshop aims at:

  • contributing to the knowledge of Digital Humanities Projects with regard to Rome among all participants
  • building an international network of people working on similar Digital Humanities Projects with regard to Rome
  • establishing collaboration between participants with the goal of further standardization and integration of available data, possibly by means of applying for grants to this purpose
  • reflecting on the methodologies, technologies and goals of Digital Humanities Projects in general

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