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

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!

My long term engagement with and work on the subject ‘materiality’ has resulted in a new publication, and I am glad that it is again in an open access, online journal! The article ‘Meaning and Materiality in Literary Studies’ (pp. 39–60) is part of the 2nd issue of the newly established series / thematic journal ‘Schriften zur Kultur- und Mediensemiotik‘, edited by Martin Nies and the Virtual Centre for Culturo-semiotic Research (VZKF), of which I became an associate researcher recently.

Recently, non- and paraverbal properties of literary texts at the level of documentary inscription (i.e. materiality), seen individually or as aspects of a so-called ‘material text’, that is, the union of materiality and verbal sign systems, received an increasing amount of attention in textual scholarship and literary studies. Here, ‘meaning’ or at least ‘semantic potentiality’ has been attributed to both or either and physical features of texts have been construed as hitherto neglected aspects of literary communication and literary aesthetics. In what follows, I will present a brief conspectus of the current debate and then try to provide a reconstruction of underlying ideas by answering the question ‘how does a material text mean?’. Taking a descriptive meta-perspective and focusing on conceptual and methodological clarification, I try to clarify the somewhat blurry expressions ‘meaning’, ‘to mean’ and the like by translating them into the distinct terminology of semiotics and transferring them into the theoretical framework of an instrumentalist notion of signs.


@ Martin Nies / VZKF – www.kultursemiotik.com

You can read, download, and distribute the complete article as a pdf-file here!

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05. August 2016 · Comments Off on VR is here! Digital Humanities Conference in Kraków, July 11-16, 2016 · Categories: Conference Report, Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

It’s been 4 years since my last annual international DH conference (in Hamburg), so it was about time! Kraków seemed reasonably close and affordable, and even though I had not submitted a proposal for a presentation myself, the preliminary programme and this year’s ‘hot topics’ were intriguing enough to give it a ‘participation only’ go! Also, a DH international conference is a great way to meet all the people I usually interact with online only live and in person!

Even though I had been entertaining the idea of immersing myself in stylometry and computer aided/assisted textual analysis, I ended up with a different choice of topic: High End Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality / 3D Modelling – with a number of sessions spread over 2 days on a variety of projects. Since I am planning a large(r) scale project in VR/AR myself, it seemed wise to check out the field and see what others are up to, what tech they use and have experience with, and how their projects are and were received by the DH and non-DH scientific community.

I was most impressed by the following presentations:

  • The Evolution of Virtual Harlem: Bringing the Jazz Age to Life (presented by Brian Wilson Carter) – more about the project, that has been started in 1998 and is constantly being developed, here.
  • Contested Memories: The Battle of Mount Street Bridge. Problems, Perspectives, and Challenges (presented by Susan Schreibman and Constantinos Papadopoulos) – their project can be viewed here.
  • OVAL: A Virtual Ecosystem for Immersive Scholarship and Teaching (presented by Bill Endres, Matthew Cook, Will Kurlinkus).
  • Using Computer Numerical Control Techniques to Prototype Media History (presented by Tiffany Chan)
  • An Augmented Reality Mobile Application for Intergenerational Learning and Critical Connection (presented by Tamar Gordon)

The most impressive, I have to say, was the Virtual Harlem Project! I will review this project thoroughly as well as take a closer look at the different approaches and alternative solutions to problems of visualization in other projects when I map out my own ideas.

Apart from the engaging content, I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues as well as meet new ones, make plans for collaborations and pitched some DH ideas, promoted the upcoming DHN conference in Gothenburg and gathered people for an informal lunch meeting of friends and members of DHN!

And since the DH conference was going on in the same week the now viral augmented reality game Pokemon Go was released, of course me and a couple of friendly technophiles teamed up to ‘catch ’em all’ – right in the foyer of the venerable Jagiellonian University, our most hospital and welcoming host institution :)

Rare Appearance of Three Digital Humanists Trying to Catch a Drowzee That Spawned in the Foyer of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Rare Appearance of Three Digital Humanists Trying to Catch a Drowzee That Spawned in the Foyer of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

25. April 2016 · Comments Off on New Publication: Paratext & New Media – A Conceptual Transfer · Categories: Research Dissemination · Tags: , ,

I am happy to announce that my article ‘Paratext’ und Neue Medien. Probleme und Perspektiven eines Begriffstransfers (Paratext and New Media. Problems and Perspectives of a Conceptual Transfer) has been published with the online journal PhiN – Philologie im Netz. It is my first open access publication which makes me especially proud!

You can read the complete article for free here: http://www.phin.de/phin76/p76i.htm. It is in German, though.

Are there paratexts in the realm of new (audio-visual, digital) media; and, if so, which? Focusing on conceptual analysis and terminological clarification, I try to show that any answer to these questions will depend on the underlying definition of the pivotal term ‘paratext’. Someone simply assuming the definitional criteria originally suggested by Gérard Genette will end up with a different answer (and a different set of ‘media paratexts’) than someone putting forward their very own stipulative definition of the term. I argue that, for the sake of communicative clarity and mutual understanding, it is crucial to explicitly bring to mind the correlation between terminological determinations, practical deliberations and empirical research, and to map the prospects of and limits to the conceptual transfer in question.

I have elaborated on the concept of ‘paratext’ in earlier articles, namely the 2009 journal publication Typographie als Paratext? Anmerkungen zu einer terminologischen Konfusion (Typography as Paratext? Remarks on a Terminological Confusion), co-authored with Per Röcken and more recently the 2014 book chapter Video Game Framings. In: Examining Paratextual Theory and its Applications in Digital Culture. Edited by Nadine Desrochers & Daniel Apollon. ()

18. March 2016 · Comments Off on Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries – 1st Conference, Oslo, March 15-17, 2016 · Categories: Conference Report, Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,


I am exhausted but ever so happy that the first conference of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries Association (DHN), held at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian National Library from March 15 to 17, 2016, was such a great experience and success at various levels! Let me say – again – a big THANK YOU to all the busy organisers and assistants, to my colleagues in the program committee and fellow board members of the DHN, to the keynote speakers and panelists, and not least to all of the 232 (!!!) participants that made this event into a truly memorable ‘kick-off’ of our Nordic collaboration and cooperation in the “meeting place” that Digital Humanities can and shall be.

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