Research

Research Interests:

Digital humanities: I am interested in what might be called location-based or site-specific inquiry working with geospatial data to model phenomena of human culture, a field that has become known as the spatial humanities. The digital map interface interests me as a medium of data assemblage of cultural materials, both historical and contemporary. I am also particularly interested in mobile media and their role(s) in the spatial humanities for multilingual environments and through social, participatory creation. Furthermore, the spatial humanities research that interests me the most stem from underresourced domains and from non-Western cultures.

Digital medieval studies: I am working to create open, inclusive corpora for computational textual research in medieval studies. Such research allows us to make micro-, meso- and macro-level observations about the interrelatedness of bodies of texts as well as to discover patterns of discursive similarity, thereby expanding traditional notions of intertextuality. I work with geo-visualization, network visualization and alignment as ways of framing old and new questions in literary history. Machine learning for entity extraction is an important methods for connecting my interests in corpora and the spatial humanities.

Medieval studies: I have been interested for many years in placing medieval texts into a global, comparative, multi-lingual context. My research has focused on the mobility of texts between the Arabograph world of the southern and eastern Mediterranean and medieval Europe. I work in a number of medieval European and Mediterranean languages: middle English, old / middle French, Latin, old Spanish, medieval Italian and Arabic. I have published on questions of mouvance, compilation, rewriting and patronage in late medieval courts.

Digital Projects:

Visualizing Medieval Places. A spatial humanities project investigating space/time in texts composed in medieval French.  10000+ toponyms from a large corpus of texts (200 and growing).

Open Medieval French (OpenMedFr). A text creation initiative aiming to publish open, plain text versions of works written over four centuries of Medieval French and related resources for scholarly, computational research. Available texts can be accessed at the project’s GitHub page.

Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut.  A spatial humanities project documenting multilingual usage of writing in public space in metropolitan Beirut, including digital mapping, multilingual transcription in YAML. The data can be consulted at the project’s GitHub page.

Open Gulf. A historical research project aiming to create open historical datasets about the Gulf region based on multilingual materials about the pre-oil history of the Arabian Gulf (17th to 20th centuries). It has begun by applying contemporary methods in the digital humanities to Lorimer’s Gazetteer, an example of early twentieth-century British India government data collection. Project page (currently only open within NYU).

Visualizing Mouvance (with Stefan Jänicke, Universität Leipzig).  Exploring computational alignment of medieval variant text traditions (using both user parameter driven and recurrent neural network approaches), innovative techniques in data visualization and what they can tell us about the instability of medieval texts. See our article here.

Digital Projects in Planning Phases:

The Arab World Publishing Project (AWPP). A textual and spatial humanities project building on the Mapping Beirut Print Culture project narrating thematic trends and spatial dimensions of print culture across the Arab and Arabograph publishing world from the 1950s to the present.