This proposal will create a step-change in the way that the humanities explore place, space and geography. Building on the PI’s considerable experience in Digital Humanities and Historical Geographical Information Systems (HGIS), its key aim is to develop and apply methodologies that allow unstructured texts, including books, newspapers and official reports, to be analysed in a GIS environment. The first part of the project will develop these methodologies using technical skills from GIS and corpus linguistics. To truly make a difference to humanities scholarship more broadly, we will apply these techniques to conduct two different but related studies. The first, running in parallel with the methodological development, will analyse qualitative sources to explore writing about the English Lake District before, during and after the Romantic era. The second will broaden the range of sources and the topic by using an extensive range of quantitative and qualitative material to conduct a detailed study of how socio-economic changes and political interventions led to (and sometimes failed to lead to) mortality decline in 19th and early 20th century England & Wales. A fourth strand of the project will use short courses, expert meetings and a conference to broaden the skills-base in the field.
Our themes are diverse however our central research question is clear: how can we exploit textual sources within a GIS to broaden our understanding of the humanities. In answering this we will use a highly inter-disciplinary approach that brings together HGIS, Digital Humanities and corpus linguistics, and applies them to literary studies and history. The techniques developed will be capable of being applied to any corpus from ancient manuscripts to modern newspapers and e-resources. This is thus a field defining project that will make a major impact within the humanities and beyond.
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