The Big Humanities, National Identity and the Digital Humanities in Germany

Gregory Crane June 8, 2015 Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities Universität Leipzig (Germany) Professor of Classics Winnick Family Chair of Technology and Entrepreneurship Tufts University (USA) Summary Alexander von Humboldt Professors are formally and explicitly “expected to contribute to enhancing Germany’s sustained international competitiveness as a research location”. And it is as an Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities that I am writing this essay. Two busy years of residence in Germany has allowed me to make at least some preliminary observations but most of my colleagues in Germany have spent their entire careers here, often in fields where they have grown up with their colleagues around the country. I offer initial reflections rather than conclusions and write in order to initiate, rather than to finish, discussions about how the Digital Humanities in Germany can be as attractive outside of Germany as possible. The big problem that I see is the tension between the aspiration to attract more international research talent to Germany and the necessary and proper task of educating the students in any given nation in at least one of their national languages, as well as their national languages and histories. The Big Humanities — German language, literature and history — drive Digital Humanities in Germany (as they do in the US and every other country with which I am familiar). In my experience, however, the best way to draw new talent into Germany is to develop research teams that run in English and capitalize on a global investment in the use of English as an academic language — our short term experience bears...

Latin and Greek Texts: What Are We Reading in Schools and Universities?

Research post authored and posted by Emily Franzini. School and university curricula love Homer. This is a fact. You don’t need to be a student of Classics to know who Homer was and what he wrote. Even Hollywood is familiar with his Iliad and Odyssey. What we’re interested in finding out, however, is who else and what else we are reading during our Latin and Ancient Greek lessons, and furthermore, if every country studies the same texts. To this end, we picked a sample of six countries, each boasting a relatively high number of students taking these subjects at various levels of proficiency. These are the USA, the UK, Germany, Croatia, Italy and Austria. For each we visited their Ministry of Education websites, secondary school examination board websites and many university Classics departmental pages. We emailed and waited. At last, we were able to compile a list of the top most read authors for each of these countries. Though fully aware that the information we gathered is only part of the puzzle, we also chose to make one list of the top three authors of Latin, and top three of Greek across all countries considered. Here is what we found: in first and second place for Greek, was, of course, the beloved Homer – his epic poems narrating the events of the Trojan War and the return of Odysseus to Ithaca being favourites among readers; in third place we have the Histories by Herodotus – considered by many the founding work of history. For Latin the first place is awarded to Vergil’s Aeneid recounting the adventures of Aeneas following the war of Troy; second place goes to Catullus’ Poems about his...

Thank you for your feedback!

Authored and posted by Emily Franzini. The Historical Languages eLearning Project would like to extend a warm thank you to all of you who came to the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften to learn and play with Ancient Geek. Your feedback was invaluable and has helped us bring our research and development to the next level!                ...

Long Night of Science / Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften!!

Authored and posted by Emily Franzini. Tonight (27th July) from 6pm to 12am in the main building of the University of Leipzig our very own Historical eLearning Project team will be showcasing Ancient Geek, a user-friendly web application providing localized support to learners of Ancient Greek. The project started in September 2013 and is now already at the point of offering a fully functional platform enriched with history snippets, gamified exercises, aligned text, parse trees, all designed with the sole purpose of teaching an ancient language, not through traditional grammars, but through direct contact with the text and active participation. So far, the text at the user’s disposal is a section of The History of the Peloponnesian War by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, whose literal translation is made available in English, Croatian and Farsi. The project’s working name is Historical Languages eLearning Project and is part of the wider Open Philology Project led by Prof. Gregory Crane, Humboldt Professor of DigitalHumanities at the University of Leipzig and funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the European Social Fund and the Sächsische AufbauBank. Ancient Geek was born and blossomed in the capable hands of three Research Associates at the University of Leipzig — Monica Lent, Emily Franzini and Maria Moritz — with the help of Maryam Foradi, professional translator, and their leaders Professor Gregory Crane, Dr. Thomas Köntges. Join us!  ...

The Word from Thucydides

While moving forward with treebanking and aligning translations of the text of Thucydides, we created a quick list on Memrise so that those of us with less knowledge of Greek could keep memorizing vocabulary while contributing annotation! Although we plan for our own digital resources to be more specifically tailored to the context of historical languages, many wonderful sites exist as short-term and supplemental support for students. For those interested in more drills for Thucydides’ text, two other customized vocabulary lists exist on Memrise here and here– you can also check out the resources on Quizlet. And of course, the full English text of Professor Gregory Crane’s book on Thucydides is available...