ESU DH 2018 – Linguistic Landscapes of Leipzig

Below is a map of the data collected at two iterations (2017 and 2018) of the “Humanities Data and Mapping Environments” at the European Summer University of Digital Humanities, Leipzig, Germany.

The first version of the dataset is published here. Overlays use open data from the city of Leipzig.


Map created with R and Shiny by Victor Westrich (U Mainz)

Mapping for the Digital Humanities DHIB 2017

Mapping for the Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities Institute – Beirut in March 2017 (5 hours).


This is a five-hour course that introduces basic elements of modeling spatial data for the humanities, data creation with gazetteers and making simple interactive maps with a symbology appropriate to the data.


Participants who complete this workshop will

    • understand the basics of spatial data (formats, types, accuracy).
      gain a basic appreciation for the concept of data modeling
    • learn where they can get spatial data appropriate for humanities inquiry, or how they can create it themselves.
    • gain a basic appreciation of the critical, interpretative side of making a map.
    • experiment with extracting locations from text.
    • appreciate different kinds of spatial data curation (manual, semi-automatic and automatic).
    • use geolocation services on their smartphones to generate some basic data.
    • learn to make a basic interactive map using Carto (and within a web hosting, if skill level permits).


(1) What are spatial data, that is, the data we need to make basic maps?  In what formats, do such data come?

(2) Where can we obtain spatial data? How can we create spatial data?  What is a gazetteer?  What is a spatial repository?

(3) Examples of digital maps projects: Edmonton Pipelines, Mapping Dante, Year of the Riot, Harlem 1935,  London Chatty Map, Slave Revolt in Jamaica, Going to the Show, Mapping the Lake District: A Literary GIS, Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut, Digital Karnak, NYT’s pick, Wandering Rocks, NoSweatShakespeare map, (LOTRLife of Maya Angelou, Novel City Maps), Photogrammar, Literary Geographies of Christine de Pizan, Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, Mapping the Mahjar

(4) Two hands-on examples:

a. Making a map from a text in three “flavors”:  (1) manually (2) semi-automatically using TopoText and (3) automatically using a basic python script (adapted from here).

b. Making a map using data captured with smartphone apps.

(5) How can we stylize those maps and share them with others?


See the other spatial humanities workshops and courses I have given. And this bibliography from 2015.

MAA 2016 Toponymic Strata in a Large Corpus of Medieval French

David Joseph Wrisley
“Place in Corpora” panel
Medieval Academy of America
Boston, 26 February 2016

Computational models are “however finely perfected, they are temporary states in a process of coming to know, rather than fixed structures of knowledge.” (McCarty, 26)

A view from down under










Visualization 1:  Peripleo.  A geographic view of many different digital objects related to the places of Herodotus.  Click here to explore the same query live.

Herodotus at Peripleo



Visualization 2: The places of Joinville’s Vie de saint Louis, data by @DJWrisley

places of Joinville


Visualization 3: Top 50 Places names in the medieval French corpus.

Visualization 4: The literary geographies of the full corpus of Christine de Pizan.  Open geodata set by myself (about 1000 place names) for download.



Visualization 5: Full dataset with a Time Slider (almost 10000 place names, 60% geocoded). 

VMP time slider




Visualization 6: A Faceted Browser for Placenames in Medieval (French) Literature (with Stefan Jaenicke, DH 2013) (almost 3000 place names).

Screenshot 2016-02-21 15.30.46


Visualization 7: Medieval French corpus place names layover with high population areas c 1300. (base map: Richard Hoffmann)

Visualization 8: Medieval French corpus place names layover with agricultural systems c. 1300. (base map: Richard Hoffmann)

Visualization 9: Comparative Cross-Language Literary Geographies of Marian poetry: Gautier de Coincy, Gonzalo de Berceo, Alfonso el Sabio (Old French, Castilian, Galician) (608 points) (map data by myself)

Visualization 10: Comparative Arabic-French late Medieval Historiography (al-Nuwairi Al-Iskandarani vs. Guillaume de Machaut) (map data by myself, accessible color palette)



Non-Embedded Works Mentioned:

“Australia on top down under!” Nucolorvue Productions PTY Ltd.

Center for Medieval Studies / Fordham University (2016). Exploring Place in the French of Italy.

Doueihi, M. (2011). Pour un humanisme numérique. Paris: Seuil.

Elliot, T. and S. Gillies (2009). “Digital Geography and Classics“ DHQ 3.1

Hoffmann, R. (2014).  An Environmental History of Medieval Europe. Cambridge: CUP.

Jessop, M. (2008). “The Inhibition of Geographic Information in Digital Humanities Scholarship” LLC 23.1: 39-50.

Mostern, R. et al (2016, forthcoming) Placing Names: Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers. Bloomington: Indiana UP.

Presner, T. and D. Shepard (2016). Mapping the Geospatial Turn” The New Companion to Digital Humanities. Malden, MA/Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Simon, R. et al. (2016).  “Peripleo: a Tool for Exploring Heterogeneous Data through the Dimensions of Space and Time”  Code4Lib 31.

Stoa Consortium (2016). Pleiades.

Suard, F. (2011). Guide de la chanson de geste et sa postérité littéraire. Paris: Champion.

Turnator, E. (2015). Summary of the Proceedings of the Linking the Middle Ages“ Workshop.

Wrisley, D. (2016). Visualizing Medieval Places.

Call – Faculty Learning Committee “Digital Humanities at AUB”



Center for Teaching and Learning

NEW Faculty Learning Community (FLC)

Dear Colleagues,

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) would like to announce a new Faculty Learning Community (FLC) entitled DIGITAL HUMANITIES AT AUB. Registration is now open for motivated faculty members, graduate students and professional staff (librarians & IT).   Deadline is extended till February 8, 2016.

For registration please click the link:

What is a Faculty Learning Community?

It is a “special kind of community of practice,” “a group of trans-disciplinary faculty, graduate students and professional staff group of size 6-15 or more (8 to 12 is the recommended size) engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, transdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building…” Read more

This topic-based Faculty Learning Community will focus on the expanding fields of practice called “Digital Humanities.” The “Digital Humanities” are an evolving set of practices that both adapt traditional questions of humanistic scholarship to new digital environments, and open up new modes of inquiry and analysis altogether. Technologies such as data mining, visualization and mapping, and multi-modal archival environments, combined with an increasing numbers of open-access, socially-networked platforms, are not only changing the ways humanists investigate and teach their source material, but are also forging new means of interdisciplinary scholarly communication and research dissemination. The Digital Humanities are a challenge both to the researcher and to the university community in which s/he works.

In this FLC, we will explore theoretical and practical approaches to the humanities in computational environments to analyze, curate and disseminate materials of the human record. We will explore how making and doing in humanities pedagogy and research enact new forms of knowing.  We will also explore new modes of dissemination and scholarly communication. Depending on the interests of the faculty members involved we can explore different media (text, image, sound, objects) as well as various forms of computational analysis.

Check out these two major events already held at AUB on the Digital Humanities in 2013 and 2015.

The purpose of this FLC is for us to try to find answers to the following questions:

1. How are the digital humanities meaningful to our cultural environment?

2. What are we already doing that falls under the DH umbrella?

3. What other kinds of curriculum and research digital innovation could be facilitated at AUB between computing and the humanities?

4. What kinds of curricular structures at AUB might support digital humanities learning?

The Digital Humanities FLC will run for one academic year, from Feb., 2016 to Dec 2016.


Beirut publishes… / وبيروت تطبع

Beirut publishes… / وبيروت تطبع : Digital Spatio-Temporal Narratives of the Lebanese Publishing Industry (1920-present)

David Joseph Wrisley
American University of Beirut
Abstract : Books in Motion Conference (Beirut, May 2016)

Initial project site:

As the old adage goes, “Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, Baghdad reads.” This paper grows out of a project-based research spatial humanities seminar in the Department of English at the American University of Beirut entitled “Literature and Mapping” (ENGL 292/306V, Spring 2016) that explores spatio-temporality of publishing culture in Beirut over the last century. Scholars familiar with the work of Moretti will recognize the come-back of the map to literary studies, particularly as an organizing technology for thinking about data-driven studies of literary production. This project takes some of its inspiration from a recent attempt to map publishing and book selling in Cairo, but with a key difference: we aim not only to localize contemporary commercial book culture, but also to add historical and sociological depth for the case of Beirut. We know publishing institutions did not stay in the same locations over the course of time (Mermier), and scholars have documented the rise of certain sectors and kinds of book publishing in and around the city (Rosiny).

Planned data sources for this project include archival materials held in special collections at Jafet Library, IFPO and the Bibliothèque Orientale, extracted records from electronic library catalogs (Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Bibliothèque nationale de France), interviews with local publishers and booksellers as well as from mobile application data collection. From the LOC I have already acquired (scraped) the publication information for about 10000 books published in Beirut over the century. Other sources will no doubt emerge as the research continues.

One of the traditional problems in history and sociology is capturing simultaneously the spatial and the temporal complexity of a research problem, especially within traditional academic prose narrative. Digital mapping techniques provide an invaluable frame for spatio-temporal depth, but not without significant challenges. Inspired by theoreticians and practitioners in a branch of the digital humanities known as the spatial or GeoHumanities, we will create a set of interactive “thick” or “deep” maps that allow for a variety of factors in the data about Beirut publishing to be visualized. For example, we will explore the potential effects of war, gentrification and delocalization of urban cultural space on the sector. Whereas traditional methods of digital mapping rely upon spatial precision and computational analysis, the techniques need to be adjusted for the kind of data collection and representation we expect to carry out. Much of what we will acquire is rough and uncertain–in both space and time–with approximate dates of activity and only a building name or a post-office box for an address. We will discuss in particular how maps do not simply mirror the world, but tell multiple narratives about lived, built space. Maps are “unstable, fragile and temporary,” they are a “conversation and not a statement” (McLucas).

Unlike top-down models for mapping cities that promote state-centered views of culture or politics, bottom-up “neogeography” admits pluralism and democratic, even idiosyncractic or messy, access to the analytic space of the map (Warf). In one semester we will be able to collect considerable data, but humanities mapping never aims at a totality of the archive, but rather visualizes what we know as but one step in the process of discovering what we do not know (Bodenhamer). Mapping is never a “one-time thing” (Presner et al.). It is an iterative process. As such, the paper proposed for the Books in Motion conference, will be prose narrative delivered in a traditional panel time slot, but will be accompanied by map-based narrative that will illustrate some of the semester’s findings. Initial evidence points to a shift of printing and consumption of books away from the early 20th century souqs and reading clubs located in proximity to the various national embassies towards two cultural, language-divergent poles that developed in the 1920s around the “globalized” Catholic and American university presses, a familiar bifurcation as described by cultural historians (Kassir). Other initial findings point to mid-century and post-war clustering of publishers in new areas–Ain al-Tineh, Ghoberieh/Haret Hreik and Sin al-Fil. We would like to analyze these spatial migrations of the publishing sector in relation to the existence and development of other (confessionally-inflected) cultural institutions. The very basic map of aggregate data (as of yet temporally undistinguished) can be found at the project site.

Recognizing that the Lebanese book sector was deeply involved in not only publishing, but also distribution, printing and translation in and out of Arabic, French and English, the full story of connectivity of this sector is not to be found in Lebanon alone. As it is a new topic, and for the purposes of the initial investigation, the scale of the spatial narrative generated in the Spring semester will be the general metropolitan area of Beirut. This being said, ancillary data will no doubt be collected linking the publishing to other parts of the Arab world, Europe and North America. This data, if robust, may be used to analyze networks of publishers connected to Beirut, adding another dimension to the “mobility of books.”

Keywords: book publishing, book distribution, digital humanities, spatial humanities, spatio-temporal narratives, thick/deep mapping, sociology of literature

Initial project site:

Works Cited

Bodenhamer, D.J. “Narrating Space and Place,” Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives (2015).

“Cairo Bookstop” [accessed 1.12.15].

Kassir, S. Histoire de Beyrouth (2003).

McLucas, C. “Deep Mapping,” [accessed 1.12.15].

Mermier, F. Le Livre et la ville: Beyrouth et l’édition arabe (2005).

Moretti, F. Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1999).

Presner, T. et al, Hypercities: Thick Mapping and the Digital Humanities (2014).

Rosiny, S. Shia’s Publishing in Lebanon: with special reference to Islamic and Islamicist publications (1999).

Warf, B. “Deep Mapping and Neogeography,” Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives (2015).