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Sydney Digital Humanities

Connecting diverse expertise to explore digital humanities
We frame digital humanities research as the people and questions that comprise it, embracing a diversity of technologies and methodologies to form an effective, centralised research strategy.

We critically evaluate how a diversity of approaches to digital humanities research can enhance textual and visual scholarship, and aim to create a network that offers opportunities for collaboration and coherent engagement at the University of Sydney.

We reassess the ways in which technologies applicable to digital humanities reshape traditional forms of scholarly communication around text and image research.

Our people


We host a number of events and activities throughout the year, including public lectures, seminars, workshops and project presentations.


When: Thursday 24 November, 12.30–2pm (AEDT)

Speaker: Dr Benoit Berthelier (The University of Sydney)

Heavily politicized and following a centrally planned production process, North Korean literature operates in very different cultural, economic and political context than the one in which most modern theories of literature were developed in. This presentation will discuss how computational methods can be used to build analyses from scratch of marginal(ized) literary systems in order to question or bypass the assumptions of traditional conceptions of literature.  

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When: Thursday 12 November, 12.30–2pm (AEDT)

Presenters: Prof Simon Burrows (Western Sydney University) and Assoc Prof Melanie Conroy (University of Memphis)

In this seminar we will discuss how 18th-century studies and our views of 18th-century history and culture have been transformed by digital humanities, paying specific attention to the ‘remarkable and interrelated intellectual and digital projects’ featured in Digitizing Enlightenment: Digital Humanities and the Transformation of Eighteenth-Century Studies, a collection of essays published in July 2020 by Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment.  

The seminar will consist of two short papers and an extended opportunity for discussion. Prior to attending the seminar, participants might like to read the Introduction to Digitizing Enlightenment.

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Speaker: Emily Pugh (Digital Humanities Specialist at the Getty Research Institute)

Date: Friday 25 October 2019, 3–4.30pm
Location: Schaeffer Seminar Room 210, RC Mills Building A26, University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2006

Co-presented with The Power Institute

How has photography shaped art history? How are digital images continuing to shape the discipline even now? Emily Pugh, Principal Research Specialist and head of the Digital Art History department at the Getty Research Institute, will provide an overview of the ways the GRI’s DAH team is exploring the relationships between imaging technologies and art-historical research and scholarship as part of two DAH projects, PhotoTech and Ed Ruscha Streets of Los Angeles Project.

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Date: Friday, 18 October 2019
Kevin Lee Room, Level 6, The Quadrangle, University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2006

Co-organised with The Medieval and Early Modern Centre

This two-part event explores the alignment of a number of digital tools, including READ, Codex and Intelligent Archive, and their strategic relevance within the framework of a NSW alliance concerning the field of digital humanities. Expert participants include Hugh Craig (The University of Newcastle), Ian McCrabb (The University of Sydney), Stephanie Majcher (Australian National University), Adrian Vickers (The University of Sydney), Iian Neill (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur | Mainz) and Francesco Borghesi (The University of Sydney). Iian Neil will demonstrate the integration of text and data achieved by Codex; Ian McCrabb, Stephanie Majcher and Hugh Craig will remark on its alignment with tools such as READ and Intelligent Archive; and Francesco Borghesi will remark on its integration within the Pico della Mirandola Virtual Library project. Adrian Vickers will provide an overview of the DH regional alliance.

A workshop (by invitation only) will follow the seminar.

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Speaker: Dr Erin McCarthy, University of Newcastle

Date: Friday, 27 September 2019
Time: 1.30–3pm
Venue: Room S226, John Woolley Building (A20), Science Rd, The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Presented by EMLAC (Early Modern Literature and Culture)

In early modern England, poetry was not only a literary genre—it was a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon. This talk traces its reach by introducing both the imagined reading public and the documented historical audience for printed poetry books. Poets and publishers alike speculated about the potentially vast unknown reading public for early modern poetry, and they tried to describe and accommodate readers in paratexts, treatises on vernacular poetics, and metapoetic works.

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Speaker: Dr Anya Adair, University of Hong Kong

Date: Friday, 23 August 2019
Time: 3–4.30pm
Venue: Seminar Room 210, Social Sciences Building

This talk describes potential pathways to developing and growing successful digital humanities projects under what might be called adverse conditions: without sustained programming or IT support, in uncertain funding environments, and with limited personal expertise in the digital field.

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Speakers: Marco Duranti, University of Sydney, and Ryan Stoker, University of Sydney Library

Date: Thursday, 23 May 2019
Time: 4–5.30pm
Venue: Kevin Lee Room

This presentation showcases the results of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Sydney and ProQuest aimed at introducing Arts students to new digital tools in the study of human rights and genocide. Digital humanities education is often premised on the assumption that these students require at least of semester of training before they are ready to use Text and Data Mining (TDM) tools in their studies.

The aim of this project is to introduce TDM into existing units across the humanities and social sciences through the construction of one-week teaching modules aimed at students who have had no prior exposure to the digital humanities or data science. Project team members, pooling together their expertise in the fields of data science, eLearning, history, and library science, introduced students to topic modelling, network analysis, and geographic analysis as tools for analysing trends in historical newspapers reporting on events in the histories of human rights and genocide.

Marco Duranti is Senior Lecturer in Modern European and International History at the University of Sydney. Among his recent publications is The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention (Oxford UP, 2017). Marco’s interest in the digital humanities stems from his involvement in an ongoing collaboration with ProQuest aimed at teaching literacy in Text and Data Mining (TDM) to undergraduates in the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. With support from DVC-Education, FASS, and the Library, he worked with an interdisciplinary team to develop online TDM tools for the study of human rights and genocide in historical perspective. Team members included experts from the fields of data science (John Dillon, Chao Sun), eLearning (Bec Plumbe, Brian Bailey), and library science (Gene Melzack, Jennifer Stanton, and Ryan Stoker).

Ryan Stoker is a Research Data Officer based at Fisher Library. He has been with the University since 2017, providing advice to researchers on data management practices and, more recently, exploring support services for researchers in the digital humanities. Ryan has been assisting Marco with technical and subject support on Text and Data Mining and using the ProQuest TDM Toolkit for teaching and learning.

Dates: 18–19 March 2019
Time: 9am–5pm
Location: Seminar Room S226 Woolley Building

Do you have large amounts of text to analyse? No time or opportunity to learn how to code? You can still use free, user-friendly tools to analyse your data.

In this showcase, researchers from the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and Lancaster University's Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) will present case studies that showcase how such tools can be used in the analysis of topics ranging from climate change to obesity to lonely hearts columns.

There will also be a hands-on workshop where Professor Laurence Anthony (Waseda University, Japan) will introduce participants to AntConc. AntConc is a free and user-friendly corpus analysis software program for quantitative (word frequency) and qualitative (concordancing) text analysis. It can be used to identify language patterns in small or large data sets, such as common words and phrases, or how certain words are used. Note that attendees should bring a laptop for the AntConc workshop.

Professor Anthony’s visit is jointly funded by the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC); the Centre for Translational Data Science, and the Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group.

See workshop program (PDF/216KB)

Event sponsored by the Medieval and Early Modern Centre (MEMC) and the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies (ACIS)

Date: Friday 15 February 2019, 3.30–5pm
Location: Room 882, Brennan MacCallum Building A18 (SOPHI Common Room)

How does collaboration in the Digital Humanities (DH) work? What challenges and opportunities does it present to scholars? What are the current and new directions? Professor Deanna Shemek is director of IDEA: The Isabella d’Este Archive, an innovative web platform in Renaissance Studies that brings together a range of disciplines, technologies, and pedagogies.

This event is open to all, and Postgraduate students are particularly encouraged to come along to share their own experiences in and curiosities about working in the Digital Humanities across disciplines. Join us to discuss the view of a successful DH project from the inside.

Deanna Shemek is Professor of Italian at the University of California, Irvine.


A Plan, a Testimony, and a Digital Map: Analysing the Architecture of the Holocaust

Presenter: Paul Jaskot, Director, Wired! Labs, Duke University
Date: Thursday, 10 May 2018
Time: 6–7pm
Location: Philosophy Room S249, The Quadrangle

The Holocaust was a profoundly spatial experience that involved not only the movement of millions of European Jews but also their confinement and murder in sites specifically built for the genocide.

Paul Jaskot’s talk addresses how perpetrators thought of their building projects and, conversely, how victims experienced these oppressive spaces. Analysing the architecture of the Holocaust helps us in understanding the larger development, implementation, and context of this crucial event.

In addition to an architectural plan and a specific survivor testimony as examples, the lecture also explores how recent methods in the digital humanities – particularly digital mapping – can be used to investigate plans and testimonies to raise new questions about the architectural and historical significance of the Holocaust.

Take Two Maps and Call Me in the Morning: Some Off-Label Uses for GIS in Digital Art History

Presenter: Stephen Whiteman, University of Sydney
Date: Friday, 2 November 2018

Encoding, Collaboration and Artificial Intelligence: Standards, Tools and Challenges in Digital Musicology

Presenter: Jason Stoessel, University of New England
Date: Friday, 12 October 2018

Digital Gamification of Learning: The Example of the Shakespeare Reloaded Website

Presenter: Liam Semler, University of Sydney
Date: Friday, 21 September 2018

Corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis and Media Studies

Presenter: Amanda Potts, Cardiff University, Wales
Date: Friday, 31 August 2018

Digital Mapping of Renaissance Florence: Tracking People, Senses, and Social Relations in the Premodern City (The DECIMA Project)

Presenter: Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto
Date: Thursday, 30 August 2018

Towards a Digital History of Print Culture: From FBTEE to Global Book Trade Project

Presenter: Simon Burrows, Western Sydney University
Date: Friday, 25 May 2018

Three Literary Questions You can only Answer through Stylometry

Presenter: Hugh Craig, University of Newcastle
Date: Friday, 27 April 2018

Interdisciplinarity in the Digital Humanities

Presenter: Hedren Sum, Digital Scholarship Librarian, Nanyang Technological University Libraries
Date: Thursday, 12 April 2018

How to teach Digital Humanities? Experiences and Expectations

Presenter: Gerhard Lauer, University of Basel
Date: Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Tracing the Spheres of “Public” in Europe, 1700-1910

Presenter: Mikko Tolonen, University of Helsinki
Date: Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Full abstracts – 2018 Seminars

Trouble in the Database: Precision and Ambiguity in Historical Sources

Presenter: Paul Jaskot, Director, Wired! Labs, Duke University
Date: Friday, 11 May 2018

This workshop will offer a presentation and discussion of working with precision and ambiguity in historical sources. We will begin with an overview of the problem by looking at the case study of analyzing spatial information derived from an historical architectural journal and the problems and possibilities for visualization and analysis that such a source allows. The workshop will then move to open discussion of strategies and possibilities for working with ambiguity using digital methods.

Issues in Digital Archiving and Publishing

Presenter: Mitchell Whitelaw, Australian National University
Date: Friday, 13 April 2018

This dialogue/workshop, which brings together researchers from NTU, ANU, and Sydney, will explore a series of issues surrounding archives, access, and publishing in the Digital Humanities. Affordances of digital technology, lack of protocols for peer review, scholarship publishing and evaluating impact (Gold, 2012), are some of the teething concerns when working on Digital Humanities (DH) projects. In this workshop, the following topics will be covered:

  • Digital publishing and archiving for different types of data (visual artefacts, geospatial, visualisations, etc)
  • Going beyond the digital archive with rich browsing and exploration methods
  • Re-defining digital publication and evaluating such projects.


Digital Poetics: Genetic Criticism and Digital Scholarly Editing

Presenter: Dirk Van Hulle, University of Antwerp
Date: Monday, 3 December 2017

Poetics is the theoretical study of literary discourse and literary forms, the most famous one being Aristotle’s Poetics. In discourse analysis, poetics is defined from the readers’ perspective, as the readers’ opinions and presuppositions of what literature is, what it does or what it should do.

The thesis of this paper is that digital scholarly editing can be a way of doing this type of poetics research, not just as a tool, but as a form of ‘digital poetics’. To explore this digital poetics, the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project will serve as a case study.

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Digital Publishing for the Humanities: Some Theoretical and Methodological Remarks

Date: Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Presenter: Massimo Riva, Brown University

In the age of data mining, distant reading, and cultural analytics, scholars increasingly rely upon automated, algorithm-based procedures in order to parse the exponentially growing databases of digitized textual and visual resources. This lecture will address questions focusing on two pilot projects of the Brown University Digital Publishing initiative, generously supported by the Mellon foundation.

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Data-Rich Research in the Arts and Humanities

Date: Friday, the 31 March 2017
Presenter: Paul Arthur, Edith Cowan University

Digital Tools and Visual Methods: The Virtual Museum of Balinese Paintings 

Date: Friday, 12 May 2017
Presenter: Adrian Vickers, The University of Sydney

Angkor in the Age of Digital Data

Date: Friday, 18 August 2017
Presenter: Roland Fletcher, University of Sydney

Perils For Young Guinea-Pigs

Date: Friday, 8 September 2017
Presenter: Linda Barwick, University of Sydney

The Three Pillars of a Saussurean Parole

Date: Friday, 20 October 2017
Presenter: John Burrows, University of Newcastle

Equipping Students with Digital Tools for the Humanities – With a Focus on Text Analysis

Date: Friday, 3 November 2017
Presenter: Monika Bednarek, University of Sydney

Full abstracts – 2017 Seminars

Samuel Beckett, Modernism, Scholarly Editing

Date: Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Time: 9am–5pm
Location: New Law School LT 104, University of Sydney

Keynote address: Dirk Van Hulle, University of Antwerp
Negative Modernism: Beckett's Poetics of Pejorism Enactment


  • Scarling Beckett's Texts 
  • Modernist Archives
  • Modernism and the Questions of Methodology.

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READ Workshop

Date: Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Presenters: Ian McCrabb and Andrew Glass, University of Sydney

Organised by Mark Allon and Ian McCrabb, University of Sydney

READ and READ Workbench together provide an integrated research environment, publishing platform and corpus development framework for ancient Sanskrit and Prakrit texts; a model that can be expanded to other writing systems.

READ Solutions Session

Date: Monday, 26 June 2017
Presenters: Mark Allon, Andrew Glass, Ian McCrabb, Kiyonori Nagasaki

As a follow up to the READ Workshop, the presenters will explore the challenges and opportunities in extending READ beyond support for alphasyllabary languages (e.g. Gandhari, Sanskrit and Pali) to also support alphabetic, logographic, and logosyllablic writing systems.

Full abstracts – READ Workshop and Session

Virtual Humanities Lab: Looking Ahead

Date: Friday, 24 November 2017
Presenters: Francesco Borghesi, Massimo Riva and Dino Buzzetti

This workshop aims to present and discuss future directions of the Virtual Humanities Lab, a Brown University-based initiative, which provides a portal for interdisciplinary projects in Italian Studies and a platform for the encoding and annotations of a mini-corpus of late Medieval and humanist texts.

Australian Open Scholarship Policy Observatory Workshop

Date: Thursday, 7 December 2017

The workshop will be facilitated by Professors Lynne and Ray Siemens from Canada’s Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) partnership, which has recently established its own Policy Observatory. 

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Samuel Beckett Digital Manuscript Project

Date: Monday, 4 December 2017
Presenter: Dirk Van Hulle

This workshop, limited to 20 registered participants, aims to demonstrate a milestone in modern literary scholarship in the digital domain. The workshop will showcase various features of the BDMP, drawing on several published editions of Beckett’s manuscripts, as well as providing a critical survey of the Samuel Beckett Library online and other features of the project.

The workshop will be run by Dirk Van Hulle and facilitated by Mark Byron (English).

Full abstracts – 2017 Workshops


Coordinator: Liam Semler  

The Better Strangers project is an educational research collaboration between teachers at Sydney's Barker College and academics based at the University of Sydney, the Australian National University and James Cook University.

Shakespeare Reloaded is the project’s open-access website which provides educators with theoretical and practical materials relating to professional development and classroom teaching. The modules will be contextualised within the project’s broader aims of resisting subservience to specific curricula and seeking alternatives to outcomes-based models of education.

Coordinator: Ian Johnson

Heurist is a research-driven data management system for researchers in the Humanities which puts the user in charge, allowing them to design, create, manage, analyse and publish their own richly-structured database(s) within hours, through a simple web interface, without the need for programmers or consultants.

Heurist Network

Coordinator: Ian McCrabb

READ Workbench is a self-service portal which supports the integration and management of researchers, resources, tools and processes in the collaborative development of textual corpora.

Workbench delivers READ philological research capability, configured for individual projects, as ‘software as a service’.

Developed by Prakaś Foundation, READ Workbench was has been hosted at the University of Sydney since 2016 and supports a range of multi-institutional corpus development collaborations across multiple languages.

READ Workbench

Coordinator: Linda Barwick

PARADISEC – the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures – was one of Australia's early digital humanities projects. Established in 2003, the project seeks to preserve and make accessible field recordings of endangered languages and musics of the Asia-Pacific region.  


Contributing researcher: Mark Byron

The Beckett Manuscript Project traces the complete textual history of the works of Samuel Beckett, from his earliest stories to his major works for the stage and his television and radio work. Accross multiple volumes, the series catalogues the relevant manuscripts – including original notebook references, drafts, English and French manuscripts and typescripts and alternative versions – and reconstructs the history of each text, from earliest beginnings to full publication history.

The Beckett Digital Manuscript Project is a collaboration between the Centre for Manuscript Genetics (University of Antwerp, Belgium), the Beckett International Foundation (University of Reading, UK) and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre (University of Texas at Austin, USA).

Samuel Beckett Digital Manuscript Project

Coordinator: Monika Bednarek

The Sydney Corpus Lab is an online platform for connecting computer-based linguists across the University of Sydney and beyond. Its mission is to build research capacity in corpus linguistics at the University of Sydney, connect Australian corpus linguists and promote the method in Australia – both in linguistics and other disciplines.

Sydney Corpus Lab