30. October 2019 · Comments Off on Norwegian Correspondences (NorKorr) · Categories: General

I am working on a longer blog post about a project I created in 2018 about Norwegian Correspondences (NorKorr), linking the collections of letters and other correspondence materials in Norwegian cultural heritage institutions and other institutions that archive and curate such materials by making use of the CorrespSearch framework.

In the meantime, you may take a look at the paper “Norwegian Correspondences and Linked Open Data” that was published in the DHN2019 conference proceedings. You may also want to check out the GitHub repository for NorKorr and read about project-related activities on the NorKorr website.

This will be far from a comprehensive post about the topics in the title – and how could it be! But I want to share my two cents on the issues at hand against the backdrop of the current debate. Drawing from my own experience and my own research and teaching projects.

Last year I decided to move all my projects to GitHub. GitHub was originally a platform for developers and before I took my first Software Carpentry course in early 2016 I had never heard anything about it. Since I am not a developer (at least: I don’t see myself as such), it didn’t come naturally to me to use GitHub for much else than keeping track of a couple of projects from the field of digital humanities I thought were cool and creating the occasional ‘guacamole recipe’ or ‘moon base’ repository when learning and teaching versioning with git and GitHub with The Carpentries.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened – or what triggered the decision, but at some point I decided to embrace GitHub as a platform not just for storing my few attempts at coding with Python but as a home for all of my research and finally ‘moved’ all my stuff there. Which also means spreading it out in the front of the world: in all its unfinished, unpolished, fragmented, interrupted, re-written, edited, occasionally aborted and often halted, and eventually finished and published state.

Since my background is in the humanities, my research has been mainly about gathering historical texts, reading and analysing them, and then publishing articles, chapters, or books about them. Not much of this is suitable for being ‘put online’, if not for copyright issues then mainly because it is too many too large files which are not machine-readable and will result in too large repositories that few other researchers will have use of but me. And since ‘open science’ hasn’t been much of a thing in the humanities, releasing my research data (texts in various stages of ‘old’) hasn’t been seen as necessary or even recommended. Also: who wants to store all this stuff, and where? If it’s available in digital form, it’s usually libraries which offer some form of access and thus, I don’t need to re-publish it. If it’s in analogue form (which, unfortunately, most of my research material is…), I am simply not allowed to make a digital copy and put it just anywhere online. Or, if copyright isn’t the issue, it is webspace (which I don’t want to pay for to have an abundance of) and accessibility (just putting it somewhere isn’t helpful if you want it to be easily findable and re-usable).

So, I came up with the following workflow for research projects:

Zotero Reference Manager

All reference material – as well as source material in textual form – will be collected, stored and maintained with Zotero. For those who don’t know this: Zotero is awesome! Not only does it allow to grab bibliographical data from the web and extracts metadata from uploaded pdfs, it also lets you tag and categorise the items and create sophisticated queries. Apart from being easily integrated into your word processor of choice of Google Docs! It can also be used with a couple of analytical plugins, for example doing topic modelling by using the Zotero-Voyant-plugin or doing a form of citation network analysis using ZotNet. – The best part is: you can publish your references as a (curated) bibliography and share it online! Which makes the often invisible part of a research project not only visible (and thus opens up for critique) but easily re-usable. When you are done with your research project, someone else might want to carry on and can build on your collections. I’ve been doing this for my book historical project “Ethica Complementoria” as well as for the “Norwegian Correspondences” multi-partner project and will release the mega bibliography I created for my Ph.D. dissertation on modern German textual scholarship alongside its open access publication after some necessary editing.

GitHub

On GitHub, the research project will be hosted. This includes for example all files that I create for the digital edition of the Ethica Complementoria, all style sheets for later publication in the open access repository “Deutsches Textarchiv” but also the .xml versions of my book on the transmission of the Ethica and other digital publications. It will, in addition, contain scripts for analysing texts and other data sets. For the Norwegian Correspondences project, the data is stored in .xml files as well as in .csv files – which, for now, are also hosted on GitHub. In addition, there’s schema files here too for creating structured data sets. The repositories for the drama network analysis project I contribute to DraCor (IbsDraCor and NorDraCor) only contain XML TEI P5 encoded texts of Norwegian dramatic texts that will be integrated into a larger corpus. The repository of my project on Medieval Religious Plays contains a couple of jupyter notebooks where I develop code for doing network analysis with Python and store network data in different data formats.

These projects are pretty much all “works in progress”. I would have developed them on my local machine and only once they were finished I would have sent them on for publication. I will not do this any more. Everything I do, I will develop openly – be it on GitHub, GitLab or some other platform. Because most of my projects never got any funding I have to work on them on weekends and in my free time – or during vacation. It means they will take significantly longer than a funded project would take, where you can dedicated 100% of your work time and resources to it. It also means that they are always in danger of never being finished: because time runs out, energy is depleted or one has simply moved on. But why throw the research that has been done until then into the trash bin? If I cannot finish a project – perhaps someone else can? That’s why I share it online so that people can pick it up – or contribute with their time and effort.

Academic Blogging

Another outlet for my research has been blogging. Initially, I had been very sceptical of blogs; that was, before I learned about academic blog platforms like Hypotheses.org. Hypotheses is a fantastic outlet for smaller research publications as well as it can serve as a “face” of your project and a place to share information about the status quo. I’ve been starting my first academic blog on Hypotheses in 2014 to accompany my digital edition project Ethica Complementoria. I had hosted a website for this project on my own domain since 2012 but decided to move to a curated platform that not just indexes each blog and website but also archives everything and has an editorial board actively maintaining and promoting quality contributions. Hypotheses has a variety of search functions that make a blog easily findable and since it is a such a vast platform, it is likely the first place where someone would look for a research blog. Another benefit is that with having a weblog on Hypotheses one isn’t connected to an institution. In the age of fixed-term contracts and academic nomadism, I wouldn’t want to publish my blogs on an institutions website that I will loose all editing rights once my contract has expired. Hypotheses is independent of this and it doesn’t exclude independent researchers without institutional affiliations either. Since 2014, I have been creating another thematic weblog for my digital humanities interests and projects, called Digital Textology and I have been creating and using another weblog for my master seminar on Digital Humanities at the University of Oslo in spring 2018.

Twitter, Google+ etc.

In addition to all the above, I have been using Twitter and Google+ for sharing milestones and publications. I’ve joined (academic) Twitter in July 2012 at the International Conference for Digital Humanities in Hamburg, Germany, after witnessing almost all scholars there using it. Mainly for sharing news about research, publications, but also following along conferences, workshops, seminars and panels when one cannot be physically present. I’ve since established quite the network, following conversations in Norway, Germany, and the English speaking world, with the occasional French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese tweet in between.

I also have a social media account on Google+ which I rarely use but nevertheless share my blog posts on. I has created some traffic on my blogs, though, which I count as a success in reaching audiences. It’s a strictly professional profile though and serves mainly as a point of entry with links to my personal website, blogs and research platform profiles.

Research Gate, GoogleScholar etc.

Having been an early user of Academia.edu and Mendeley and other, much less known platforms due to my status as independent researcher, I have been following the trail of academic nomads making their camp here and there. I like the option of not just sharing some professional information about myself and creating another point of entry for an audience for my research but also sharing papers and other publications online. We have the same problem here that we have with institution hosted websites: once your contract has expired and you’re forced to move on, you loose access to your university repository. Sure, all the papers and articles that you archived there while you were working at said institution are still there, but keeping some form of personal collection of research publications in one place is not possible this way. Self-hosting is another option, but – in my view – might make it harder for your audience to find what they are looking for because they will not look on your personal website. So I’ve been using ResearchGate now for all of my publications even though not all have pdfs or other files attached. I use GoogleScholar little, but take a peek at my citations semi-regularly (it’s bad at tracking citations in print-only or paywalled publications, who would have thought!). I also have an ORCID profile – and lately joined Zenodo (where you don’t have a profile, but can archive your stuff!). I’m not 100% happy with any of these, and will likely move on to something else when the cons outweigh the pros.

Unlike, for example, the bio sciences, the humanities have not yet established a culture of online archiving and sharing of (pre-)publications on platforms like arXiv or biorXiv and our publication habits are still strongly attached to print culture and publishing houses. The digital humanities have opened this up a bit, but are far from embracing open access fully.

Conclusion

So, what’s the conclusion? I believe that research should be shared openly. From the perspective of the public institution, I don’t think I have to repeat the arguments for fully embracing open science and open data. This has been done ad nauseam and there’s hardly anything that serves as a substantial and strong counter argument. As for research conducted by private companies and other non-publicly funded institutions: I don’t know. I think it depends on a number of variables and decisions cannot be made without taking these variables into account. It is also something I have very little knowledge about or insight into, so I leave it at that. When it comes to the individual researcher though, I would urge them to share as much of their research as openly as possible. Without an institutional affiliation it is already hard enough to get resources and access to academia. Without affiliations it can be extremely hard to “get in”, that is: getting published or even considered for publication, attending conferences etc. Sharing your research openly increases your and your research’s visibility and adds credibility – because it can be assessed and critiqued by peers without having to squeeze through the institutional bottleneck. Publishing and sharing your data, your scripts for analysis, your research design and results online will help them get archived (remember: the cloud is just someone else’s computer!). You will make a contribution, even if your projects don’t reach their goal because you run out of funding, time, or energy. Someone else might pick up where you left or might build on your material. In any case, it will be of more use than it is on your local hard drive!

With that being said, I will continue putting my research online, using many different channels. Not all will have a home on GitHub (but some and many of my future projects), not all will live on institutionally run servers (but I will use them whenever I am allowed to). And I will more openly invite people to contribute and make use of my stuff: it’s a lot, go play with it!

11. October 2018 · Comments Off on The Carpentries Instructor Training – EMBL Heidelberg · Categories: Conference Report, Digital Humanities · Tags: ,

I spent the last couple of days in (well, technically: in the area of) Heidelberg, at the European Molecular Biology Laboratories EMBL. You might ask:  What kind of business does a humanities researcher have there? Becoming a certified Software and Data (and Library) Carpentry Instructor, of course! The Carpentries are a world-wide community of volunteers with diverse academic backgrounds that teach foundational programming and data skills to fellow researchers of all fields! Originally mainly target at STEM researchers, The Carpentries are attracting more and more social sciences and humanities researchers, especially from digital humanities. The Carpentries have also local – or regional – hubs, with lots of activities and a substantial group of instructors, helpers, and learners; here in Oslo, we have, at least according to what I hear through the grapevine, one of the largest European hubs. The Carpentry@UiO Initiative is responsible for numerous Software and Data Carpentry events since at least 2016 and I have been part of that group since then.

The Carpentries instructors are very well trained teachers and The Carpentries have their own instructor training workshops that are offered world-wide and usually quite sought after! Doing an instructor training enables one to teach official The Carpentries workshops. Note: anyone can use the materials for the lessons, they are all licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. One can teach whatever lesson, parts of lessons or the entire course, anywhere, anytime. And even charge a workshop fee for it. You are just not allowed to flag these activities under the official The Carpentries logo. So, if you want to improve your lessons by using The Carpentries material, do so! However, it’s not just for becoming a certified instructor so you are allowed to advertise your programming and data skill workshops using an official brand – what makes the instructor training such a valuable experience is that you actually learn how to teach technology, computational thinking and programming, and data analytical skills. You will learn how to design lessons, how to assess learners motivation and prior knowledge, how to help them stay motivated during the courses, how to help them help themselves explore and become confident in coding for their research; you also learn about teaching techniques and principles of learning and teaching; evaluation, feedback and self-improvement as a teacher. And community building!

The two days were packed with knowledge and hands-on practice and the crowd of almost 40 instructors-to-be was buzzing! For me, a key motivator for engaging with The Carpentries is meeting people with a completely different academic background than me and finding out how much we have in common! And of course meeting people for future collaborations. As an immediate result of the instructor training, I have made plans teaching a workshop on git and GitHub together with a fellow instructor trainee next spring in Germany. And I will engage much closer with the European The Carpentries community than I have been able to before.

What comes next is to finish the instructor training by completing three additional tasks: Improving lessons or related material from both Software and Data Carpentry (to become certified to teach both!); participating in the instructor discussion lists and doing a short trial teaching episode with peer-evaluation. I’m looking forward to “checking out” as a certified instructor and the official acknowledgement of my work with and enthusiasm for The Carpentries! In the meantime, I will be helping with a couple of Carpentries workshop here in Oslo, namely the 1day workshops on “Databases and SQL” (Oct 17) and “git” (Oct 24). Additionally, I will teach a lesson on GitHub (under development) at the DH Seminar at the Norwegian University of Sciences and Technology (NTNU) in early November as well as at the National Library of Norway in mid November. The plan is to teach a 1day workshop with a combination of Software Carpentry and Code Refinery at the DHN2019 conference in Copenhagen as well. And I am currently developing a workshop on Complex Network Analysis for Digital Humanities Researchers based on The Carpentries lesson template and teaching method!

So, if you’re into sharing your knowledge and skills in programming, coding, technology or data analysis, consider becoming an instructor and join the awesome community of The Carpentries!

26. September 2018 · Comments Off on GitHub Workshop at NTNU University Library in Trondheim · Categories: Digital Humanities · Tags: , , ,

I will be teaching a workshop on using GitHub for writing and publishing together on the web!

The workshop is part of the 2day digital humanities seminar at the NTNU University Library and Gunnerus Library in Trondheim on November 1–2. The event is aimed at graduate students and research staff, both from the university and the libraries and focuses on research practices and tools for digital humanities.

The morning of day 1 will be dedicated to talks from internationally renowned dh practitioners on topics like policy making, EdTech, and infrastructure. The second half of the day offers six parallel workshops:

  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Text Data Analytics (with Python)
  • 3D Modelling
  • VR in Learning
  • Geospatial Visualisations
  • GitHub for collaborative working

I will teach the GitHub workshop: I’m proud to be able to use and expand the material that’s been developed here in Oslo with the UiO Carpentry Initiative, especially by Lex Nederbragt. You can read more on its contents here and join the workshop in Trondheim if you are around!

Day 2 of the DH event will be all about the application of digital methods and tools to humanities research and has everything from VR/AR reconstruction for historical research, to linked data and ontologies, corpus analysis, research data repositories and book history.

Come join the Norwegian DH scene in Trondheim! Follow the event on Twitter with the hashtag #dhntnuub18

by Alexandra Angeletaki – 2018

26. June 2018 · Comments Off on New Job: Research Librarian for Digital Humanities! · Categories: Digital Humanities, General · Tags: ,

As of July 1, I will be working as a research librarian developing the digital humanities strategy at the National Library of Norway in Oslo. Check my updated contact info here.

In April this year I’ve successfully defended my Ph.D. thesis in analytic philosophy of literary studies at the University of Oslo and taught a master class in digital humanities as well as held a guest lecture (remotely) on medieval religious plays and digital simulation and reconstruction within the seminar on digital music studies at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtität Münster, Germany.

I will continue my work with the DH Network in the greater Oslo region and with the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries Association as well as the EADH. And I hope to continue teaching workshops with the local Software Carpentry Initiative!

For an overview of what I am doing at the National Library of Norway and the collaborations we have nationally and internationally, stay tuned!

The attentive reader of this website will have noticed that I haven’t been publishing a blogpost since March – ouch! I have been busy doing other stuff, mainly finishing and handing in my doctoral thesis in analytic philosophy of edition philology, delivering an extensive descriptive bibliography of early modern prints of a famous book on etiquette, reviewing a 1000+ pages edition of the writings of Charlotte Schiller and reviewing the online resources in the Austrian Baroque Corpus. I have also been taking a postgraduate training in university pedagogy and did some teaching with the Software Carpentry initiative at University of Oslo.

I’ve had the pleasure to be invited to a workgroup on Digital Humanities teaching in the Nordic Countries in which I will continue my survey on DH at Norwegian higher education institutions. I went to the Nordic eInfrastructure Collaboration conference in Umeå, a presentation on virtual and mixed reality for industry in Oslo, the bi-annual conference of the Nordic Network for Edition Philology in Espoo, Finland and a small-scale Digital Humanities conference in Tromsø, Northern Norway (incl. northern lights) and will give a guest lecture at the University of Stuttgart in December. I’ve worked as a board member of DHN and as a representative of DHN at the EADH associated organisations forum with conceptualising and starting a journal metadata aggregator for non-english content digital humanities journals; in this capacity I have initiated the preparation and edition of the entire run of the first Norwegian ‘DH’ journal, Humanistisk informatikk (1973–1991).

For the next year plans have already been made: I will teach a master seminar at the University of Oslo on Digital Humanities within the European languages program and guest lecture in the master seminar Europe as a Knowledge Community. I will co-teach a full-day workshop in programming with Python and version control with Git at the DHN2018 conference in Helsinki. Apart from my teaching here in Norway I will give a talk in Frankfurt/Main at the bi-annual conference of the German Association for Edition Philology and introduce the newly established commission for DH and edition philology at the AG’s members meeting. I will also take part in the DHd2018 conference in Cologne and the IGEL (society for the scientific study of literature) conference in Stavanger in summer 2018. I’ve submitted abstract to two more conferences and – acceptance granted – present my research in Copenhagen and Prague, too.

I have four articles in the pipeline that are to be submitted in 2018 as well as the continuous work on my digital edition (including a collaboration with the Norwegian National Library’s digital scholarly edition series). I’m also working on an application for a research grant.

However, I have dialed back on my presence in social media (esp. Twitter) and deleted my Academia.edu account. I’m still maintaining my ResearchGate profile and sporadically post something to my Google+ account. I mainly disseminate my work via my website and the Greflinger weblog as well as the website for the master seminar.

24. March 2017 · Comments Off on Digital Humanities Higher Education in Norway – A Preliminary Survey · Categories: Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

Last week, DHN had its 2nd conference in beautiful Gothenburg. With nearly 200 participants and 60 presentations, over a dozen posters and three keynotes it was as well received as the Oslo conference in 2016 and supports the initial idea, that the Nordic countries could and should join their efforts in making Digital Humanities (in the broadest sense) more visible, more integrated, and sustainable.

Before the the conference, DHN had invited to participate in a variety of pre-conference workshops and I decided to join the one on Higher Education Programs in Digital Humanities: Challenges and Perspectives, organized by Koraljka Golub from Linnæus University in Växjö, Sweden. – Shortly after enrolling, I was asked if I could report on the situation in Norway which I agreed to do: after all, I thought, there isn’t much to report on anyways but it will give me the chance to do some research on what is happening DH-education-wise in my country of residence!

My initial suspicion was quite true, though: At the present moment, there is no DH-study program in higher education in Norway. (A DH-study program would be called “Digital Humanities” or “Digital Humaniora” but also “Humanities Computing” / “Humanistisk Informatikk”, either on B.A./B.Sc. or M.A./M.Sc. level.) However, finding that there isn’t anything called ‘DH’ does not mean, that there is no such thing like ‘DH’. I expanded my search and attempted also a more systematic approach:

  1. Which disciplines are commonly meant when talking about ‘Humanities’ and what does ‘Digital’ (or the older term ‘Computing’) refer to in this context?
  2. What are the institutions of higher education in Norway?
  3. Where in Norway are institutions located that provide a DH or DH-like or DH-near education?

I created a spreadsheet with all the institutions of Higher Ed in Norway and the study programs (1-year-studies, B.A./B.Sc., M.A./M.Sc.) that would fit – in the broadest and most inclusive way – under the DH-umbrella. This list can be seen here (and comments are welcome!), however, it is not finished yet. In order to get something presentable and discussable, I was rather lax in my categories: I included almost anything related to computer science, data science, data engineering, ICT-teaching; media (and film) studies; interface design and digital design; digital culture; but also statistics, e-Health, e-Administration etc.

This resulted in a large number of study programs on all levels at almost all the institutions of higher education. I think this is actually an advantage: It is easier to delete something from a list after re-evaluation of the search criteria than adding something new. The presentation of my preliminary results can be accessed (and commented on) here.

Although there is very little that would intuitively be considered DH-studies, Norway has a strong focus on the digital / data driven / computational and ICT studies. Especially in its application for society, research, the medicine and health sector, governance and administration (incl. law), and teaching. Within the humanities, the focus seems to be more on the ‘digital’ as an object of study, not so much as a set of methods and approaches to deal with cultural, social, and artistic objects. Almost exclusively within media and cultural studies, digital humanities aspects can be found; especially at the University of Bergen and Norway’s Inland University (formerly University College in Hedmark).

I also discussed what this means for DH in the Nordic countries and DH in Norway specifically: DH in Norway are both young and old, the state endorses higher education (including the humanities) quite substantially, and has a strategic plan for ‘Digital’ Norway as one, if not THE, sustainable industry and (public) service of the future. Which all in all looks pretty promising for DH in higher ed. If this necessarily means that we have to establish DH-study programs (in the narrow sense), I am not sure about. Or if it means that the ‘digital turn’ in ANY field of study, including the humanities, is inevitable. And I believe this is a good thing.

I plan to expand my preliminary study a bit, especially in making a thought-through, transparent selection of criteria as to what counts as DH-proper and DH in a wider sense (in Norway at least) and what I consider to be a study program (perhaps excluding the 1-year-studies altogether) and an institution of higher education. I will also conduct comprehensive interviews with Norwegian academics who research and teach in DH-related programs and future plans and do a more in depth analysis of the strategic plans of the Ministry of Education and Research, The Research Counsil of Norway and other science and education policy institutions in Norway regarding the ‘digital’. So: stay tuned!

Kommen Sie auch manchmal ins Grübeln darüber, ob frühere Generationen (also: vor ein paar hundert Jahren) sich auch Witze erzählt haben? Und was das für Witze waren? In welchen Situationen oder zu welchen Anlässen man Witze gemacht hat und worüber eigentlich gelacht wurde? Und vielleicht haben Sie sich auch gewundert: Sind die Witzen der Alten eigentlich heute noch lustig? Bringen sie uns zum Lachen, zum Schmunzeln, zum Prusten oder lassen uns verlegen wegschauen oder treiben uns gar die Schamröte ins Gesicht?

In der Ethica Complementoria (Erstdruck Nürnberg 1643), dem sogenannten Komplimentierbüchlein, eine praktischen Anstandslehre und handlicher Ratgeber zur erfolgreichen Konversation in sozial anspruchsvollen Situationen (z.B. bei Hofe, oder auf Hochzeitsfesten oder beim Gesellschaftstanz mit jungen, unverheirateten Frauen…), gibt es einen Witz. Er ist im Kapitel zu den “Gesellschaftskomplimenten” (also: Komplimente oder geistreicher Smalltalk bei geselligen Zusammenkünften) enthalten und lautet wie folgt:

Alſo ſtellete newlich einer eine Frage fuͤr / wie man vnter dreyen gewaſchenen Hembden / deren eins einer Frawen / das ander einer Nonnen vnd das dritte einer Jungfern zugehoͤrte / koͤnte ein jegliches kennen vnd vnterſcheiden? Ward ſolches alſo hoͤflich beantwortet:
Ein FrawenHembd wuͤrde erkent am hintern Theile / denn weil die Frawen gemeiniglich viel ſeſſen/ ſpoͤnden oder naͤheten / wuͤrde das Hintertheil deß Hembdes davon duͤnner. Das Nonnenhemd wuͤrde am vnterſten Theil erkaͤnt / weil dieſelb viel auff den Knien ſeſſen vnd beteten / dadurch das Hembd vnten gleich loͤchricht wuͤrde. Das Jungfern Hembd aber kennete man in der mitte / etc. [Blatt C5 verso]

Es geht also um die (nicht ganz ernst gemeinte) Frage, wie man von drei gewaschenen Unterhemden herausfindet, welches einer (Haus)Frau, welches einer Nonne und welches einer Jungfrau (also: einer unverheirateten Frau) gehört. – Das Hemd der Hausfrau ist leicht als das identifizierbar, welches am hinteren Teil (vulgo: am Hintern) fadenscheinig ist, denn die Hausfrauen sitzen typischerweise viel bei den häuslichen Arbeiten. Wir können hier davon ausgehen, dass die gemeinten Hausfrauen eher aus den sozialen Sphären eines städtischen Bürgertums oder dem Adel entstammen. Das Hemd der Nonne läßt sich ebenso einfach herausfinden: da diese regelmäßig und viel beten und dabei knien, sind ihre Unterhemden vorne, nämlich im Bereich der Knie durchgewetzt. Soweit sogut! Nun aber das Unterhemd der Jungfrauen: dieses erkenne man in der Mitte…

Rembrandt, 1606 - 1669 A Woman bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?) 1654 Oil on oak, 61.8 x 47 cm Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831 NG54 https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG54

A Woman bathing in a Stream
Rembrandt van Rijn 1654
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG54

Ich habe diesen Witz einmal bei einem PosterSlam vor ein paar hundert DH Enthusiasten in Berlin gebracht (was man nicht alles tut um das Publikum zum Posterstand zu locken!) und erwartungsgemäß blieben die großen Lacher aus. Ein Kollege schlug dann aber folgende Lösung vor: es handle sich um ein Wortspiel mit der doppelten Bedeutung des Verbs “kennen” resp. “erkennen”, das nämlich im biblischen Sinne von “den Geschlechtsakt vollziehen” gebraucht werden kann. In diesem Sinne hieße das, man “erkennt” die Jungfrauen “in der Mitte”, ergo, auf recht profane (und daher witzige) Weise: man hat mit ihnen Sex. Das klingt einleuchtend. Damit hätte man einen ordentlichen Witz: ein Sprachspiel mit erotischer Pointe im “Hemd” eines kleinen Ratespiels. Das wird den anwesenden Jungfrauen die Schamröte ins Gesicht getrieben und sonst für Lacher gesorgt haben.

Ich wähnte mich also in Sicherheit, einen frühneuzeitlichen Witz gefunden und enträtselt zu haben und gleichzeitig den (empirisch natürlich nicht belastbaren) Beweis gefunden zu haben, dass alte Witze immer noch funktionieren können!

Aber: Im Text steht nichts davon, dass man die Jungfrauen in der Mitte erkennt. Sondern das Hemd der Jungfrauen. Und jetzt frage ich mich: ist hier das “Hemd” nichts anderes als ein Substitut für die Jungfrauen, ergo: es ist tatsächlich gemeint, dass man diese “in der Mitten erkennt”. Oder aber haben die Unterhemden unverheirateter Frauen irgendein besonderes Merkmal? Und outet sich derjenige, der dieses identifizieren kann, als jemand, der bereits einmal eine Jungfrau “erkannt” hat (ergo: der Witz liegt beim Entlarven der sexuell aktiven (jungen) Männer)? Oder doch etwas anderes?

Und was folgt aus diesem Befund für eine Kommentierung der Edition der Ethica Complementoria? Ist ein Witz kommentierungsbedürftig? Und falls ja: soll / muss er erklärt und aufgelöst werden für ein heutiges Publikum? Und welche Erklärung gebe ich? Was ist die (historische) korrekte Deutung des Witzes? Recherchiere ich frühneuzeitliche Unterhemden und -kleider von unverheirateten Frauen aus besserem Hause und suche nach verborgenen Features, die Licht in dieses sekundäre Dunkel bringen könnten? Oder gebe ich mich geschlagen und konstatiere stattdessen, dass die Bedeutung des Witzes “lost in translation” ist?

[Re-Blogged from my Greflinger – Digital Archive Edition Weblog, 2016-01-19]

12. October 2016 · Comments Off on A Thought Experiment on Scholarly Editing and ‘Discourse’ · Categories: Research Dissemination · Tags: ,

A while ago I, when German edition philology had become saturated by French post-structuralist ‘theory’, there was – here a there – some whispered talk about a ‘Diskursedition’ or discourse edition. Nothing concrete had been presented or published yet, but the idea had been tossed around, though in a very early stage of conception. So I decided to investigate the issue within my larger project on Editorial Pluralism – and since there were no actual examples of discourse editions or edited ‘discourse(s)’ around, I came up with a thought experiment instead: How would an endeavour like that of ‘editing a discourse’ look like? How would it have to be conceptualized, framed, justified and then: realized? What would the specific challenges be, and what (new/different) kinds of answers would it help find? More so: given the notorious vagueness of the term and of the concept ‘discourse’ (as coined by Michel Foucault and then wildly appropriated), what would serve as the object(s) of the edition? I presented my thoughts first at the international conference of the Society of Textual Scholarship and Textual Cultures (STS), ‘The Objects of Editing’ at the Loyola University in Chicago in 2013 and put them down in writing shortly after. Due to the rather unusual nature of the paper (after all, thought experiments as such are not a common genre of academic text in edition philology nor are they exercised often in literary studies) it took me a while to find a publication outlet that would sit well with both the content and the form.

The article “Editing a Discourse, Not a Text: Meta-Methodological Remarks on an Editorial Endeavour” has now been published in the Journal of Literary Theory (JLT), Vol. 10, Issue 2. Via the publishers website, both the long abstract and the bibliography are freely accessible. The full text can be downloaded via institutional subscription or individual payment, however, as usual I provide anyone with a free copy (.pdf-file) who requests one!