Mind and machine
Digital humanities projects aim to open new areas for research in the humanities and to revisit the traditional questions the field asks from a new perspective. Using close interdisciplinary collaboration, researchers employ statistical methods, programming and visualization in areas of the humanities that previously were difficult to access. Analysis of large masses of data assumes heightened importance in this endeavor.
In Stuttgart, the present focus is foremost on methods of quantitative analysis of texts as well as reflecting on and assessing what traditionally have been qualitative questions. Other core themes are innovative editing methods as well as humanistic and social science explorations of digital artifacts.
Thanks to its interdisciplinary orientation, digital humanities is especially well-suited for pursuing the University of Stuttgart’s strategic goal of 'Networked disciplines (The Stuttgart Way)' since, owing to the cooperation among complementary disciplines, unique opportunities arise in digital humanities for jointly developing the answers to the new questions it poses.
Digital humanities in Stuttgart
Digital humanities have a long tradition at the University of Stuttgart. Not least in witnessing to this history are two Collaborative Research Centers CRC 340 Theoretical linguistic foundations of computer linguistics started in 1988, and CRC 732 Incremental Specification in Context which dates from 2006. Since the winter semester 2015/2016, installed in the Institute of Literatures have been a separate Master's study program 'Digital Humanities' and the related professorship and academic department.
Within the University of Stuttgart, interdisciplinary collaboration is manifest mainly in superordinate entities and initiatives. So, for example, within the Stuttgart Research Center for Text Studies (SRCTS) the Digital Humanities department collaborates with the Institute for Natural Language Processing (IMS), the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems (VIS) as well as various liberal arts and social science oriented institutions. At the Center for Reflected Text Analytics (CRETA) that was set up in 2016, the researchers are collaboratively reflecting on and critically examining technical and quantitative methods in digital humanities and developing the corresponding standards. But there is much more: myriad other formal and informal research and teaching initiatives showcase the joint efforts by Stuttgart’s digital humanities researchers.
The University of Stuttgart works with many cooperation partners in many digital humanities projects. These projects range from the indexing of varied texts for digital editions, such as Lyric Poetry of the German Middle Ages or Adorno's Esthetic Theory to ePoetics where analytical methods combining qualitative and quantitative approaches are deployed to investigate poetics of literary historical significance both algorithmically and hermeneutically. There is also the TEACaN project linking network analytical geodata to “captivity narratives” in which white settlers recount their (European-biased) experiences as captives of American Indian tribes. Another contribution to the scientific historical perspectivization of digital humanities is represented by the the Quantitative Literary Studies project which concerns itself with the roots of such "literature-mathematical" method before the age of computers. Another contribution to the scientific historical perspectivization of digital humanities is represented by the CLARIN-D for the Social Sciences or ReplayDH are another top priority for Stuttgart digital humanities research.
Since the winter semester 2015/2016, it is also possible to study digital humanities in the University of Stuttgart’s own Master's study program. Students of humanities here attain computer skills and learn how to apply them to problems in the humanities. The Master’s study program conveys project-oriented knowledge on the practical application of methods and introduces students to the workflows typical in interdisciplinary collaboration. In this way, the study program not only lays the groundwork for a career in research but also for working in the cultural and business realms. Besides the Master’s degree program, other digital humanities-related teaching at Stuttgart includes the Bachelor’s study program in the humanities in which students get their own introduction to the field in a course offered as part of the “Digital Archive” (DDA) teaching project.