Design Sprint for Perseus 5.0/Open Greek and Latin

Tuesday, August 15, 2017: Leipzig has published the official RFP: https://goo.gl/EoxFPT. If you compare the English below, with the final version in German, you will see that they did quite a bit of work to streamline our draft. The key point is that the deadline for submissions is August 24, 2017. The RFP is in German but our purchasing office worked hard to facilitate the process of applying. For questions, the contact at Leipzig is Herr Christoph.Sedlaczek.

Scheduling. We are done with the English version of the RFP and will begin producing a German version (which is apparently a requirement). The German translation will be done quickly. Nothing, of course, is official, final or binding until the Leipzig administration publishes the RFP.

A DRAFT German version is now available at https://goo.gl/1Zoxeg.

[DRAFT] Request for Proposals for work on the Scaife Digital Library Viewer.

The following document presents a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Scaife Digital Library Viewer. The initial version of the Scaife Digital Library Viewer must support searching and reading of the Open Greek and Latin collection within a new version of Perseus (Perseus 5.0). The RFP solicits proposals for a three month sprint (October – December 2017), subsequent testing (January – March 2018) and a formal roll out tentatively scheduled for March 15, 2018, ten years after Ross, passed away at an all too early age.

We announced in June that Center for Hellenic Studies had signed a contract with Intrepid.io to conduct a design sprint that would support Perseus 5.0 and the Open Greek and Latin collection that it will include. Our goal was to provide a sample model for a new interface that would support searching and reading of Greek, Latin, and other historical languages. The report from that sprint was handed over to CHS on Friday, July 21, 2017, and on July 22 we, in turn, made these materials available, including both the summary presentation and associated materials. The goal was to solicit comment and to provide potential applicants to the planned RFP with access to this work as soon as possible.

The sprint took just over two weeks and was an intensive effort. An evolving Google Doc with commentary on the Intrepid Wrap-up slides for the Center for Hellenic studies has been visible since July 24. Readers of the report will see that questions remain to be answered. How will we represent Perseus, Open Greek and Latin, Open Philology, and other efforts? One thing that we have added and that will not change will be the name of the system that this planned implementation phase will begin: whether it is Perseus, Open Philology or some other name, it will be powered by the Scaife Digital Library Viewer, a name that commemorates Ross Scaife, pioneer of Digital Classics and a friend whom many of us will always miss.

The Intrepid report also includes elements that we will wish to develop further — students of Greco-Roman culture may not find “relevance” a helpful way to sort search reports. The Intrepid Sprint greatly advanced our own thinking and provided us with a new starting point. Anyone may build upon the work presented here — but they can also suggest alternate approaches.

In developing our plans we work closely with the Alpheios Project. Alpheios developed the best reading reading environment for Greek with which we are the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities are familiar and did so almost a decade ago. Alpheios is now preparing to update its tools and Perseus 5.0 will work as closely as possible with Alpheios to minimize duplication of effort. Those submitting a proposal for the Leipzig RFP should familiar themselves with Alpheios and especially with the reading environment that Alpheios has provided for the first book of the Odyssey. This environment only runs under Firefox and it depends upon Firefox features that are supposed to disappear. The upcoming rewrite will address this problem, but the environment still runs on my Macbook as of July 22, 2017. Source code for this reading environment is available at https://sourceforge.net/projects/alpheios/.

In general, the goal is to create a new version of Perseus that integrates the additional features long offered by Alpheios and that provides users with an opportunity to establish basic profiles. Contractors can assume access to a CTS-compliant API. An initial browsing environment based upon the http://capitains.org/ API is visible at http://cts.dh.uni-leipzig.de/ and http://cts.perseids.org/, but contractors are free to develop their own frontends on top of the CTS API.

The deliverables below distinguish between results that are required (“must“) and that are desirable if possible (“should“). If proposals can guarantee more than the required features, they should indicate so. If proposals do not feel that they can guarantee all the requirements, they should indicate which they can and cannot guarantee.

  1. The contractor must provide a new reading environment that captures the basic functionality of the Perseus 4.0 reading environment but that is more customizable and that can be localized efficiently into multiple modern languages, with Arabic, Persian, German and English as the initial target languages. The overall Open Greek and Latin team is, of course, responsible for providing the non-English content. The Scaife DL Viewer should make it possible for us to localize into multiple languages as efficiently as possible.
  2. The reading environment should be designed to support any CTS-compliant collection and should be easily configured with a look and feel for different collections.
  3. The reading environment should contain a lightweight treebank viewer — we don’t need to support editing of treebanks in the reading environment. The functionality that the Alpheios Project provided for the first book of the Odyssey would be more than adequate. Treebanks are available under the label “diagram” when you double-click on a Greek word.
  4. The reading environment should support dynamic word/phrase level alignments between source text and translation(s). Here again, the The functionality that the Alpheios Project provided for the first book of the Odyssey would be adequate. More recent work implementing this functionality is visible at Tariq Yousef’s work at http://divan-hafez.com/ and http://ugarit.ialigner.com/.
  5. The system must be able to search for both specific inflected forms and for all forms of a particular word (as in Perseus 4.0) in CTS-compliant epiDoc TEI XML. The search will build upon the linguistically analyzed texts available in https://github.com/gcelano/CTSAncientGreekXML. This will enable searching by dictionary entry, by part of speech, and by inflected form. For Greek, the base collection is visible at the First Thousand Years of Greek website (which now has begun to accumulate a substantial amount of later Greek). CTS-compliant epiDoc Latin texts can be found at https://github.com/OpenGreekAndLatin/csel-dev/tree/master/data and https://github.com/PerseusDL/canonical-latinLit/tree/master/data.
  6. The system should be able to search Greek and Latin that is available only as uncorrected OCR-generated text in hOCR format. Here the results may follow the image-front strategy familiar to academics from sources such as Jstor. If it is not feasible to integrate this search within the three months of core work, then we need a plan for subsequent integration that Leipzig and OGL members can implement later.
  7. The new system must be scalable. While these collections may not be large by modern standards, they are substantial. Open Greek and Latin currently has c. 67 million words of Greek and Latin at various stages of post-processing and c. 90 million words of addition translations from Greek and Latin into English,French, German and Italian, while the Lace Greek OCR Project has OCR-generated text for 1100 volumes. Use of Elasticsearch appears desirable but proposals may suggest other directions.
  8. The system must integrate translations and translation alignments into the searching system, so that users can search either in the original or in modern language translations where we provide this data. This goes back to work by David Bamman in the NEH-funded Dynamic Lexicon Project (when he was a researcher at Perseus at Tufts). For more recent examples of this, see http://divan-hafez.com/ and Ugarit. Note that one reason to adopt CTS URNs is to simplify the task of display translations of source texts — the system is only responsible for displaying translations insofar as they are available via the CTS API.
  9. The system must provide initial support for a user profile. One benefit of the profile is that users will be able to define their own reading lists — and the Scaife DL Viewer will then be able to provide personalized reading support, e.g., word X already showed up in your reading at places A, B, and C, while word Y, which is new to you, will appear 12 times in the rest of your planned readings (i.e., you should think about learning that word). By adopting the CTS data model, we can make very precise reading lists, defining precise selections from particular editions of particular works. We also want to be able to support an initial set of user contributions that are (1) easy to implement technically and (2) easy for users to understand and perform. Thus we would support fixing residual data entry errors, creating alignments between source texts and translations, improving automated part of speech tagging and lemmatization but users would go to external resources to perform more complex tasks such as syntactic markup (treebanking).
  10. Bids should include a specific component for design work to plan next steps after the current phase of work. We were very pleased with the Design Sprint that took place in July 2017 and would like to include a follow-up Design Sprint in early 2018 that will consider (1) next steps for Greek and Latin and (2) generalizing our work to other historical languages. This Design Sprint might well go to a separate contractor (thus providing us also with a separate point of view on the work done so far).
  11. Work must be built upon the Canonical Text Services Protocol. Bids should be prepared to build upon https://github.com/Capitains, but should also be able to build upon other CTS servers (e.g., https://github.com/ThomasK81/LightWeightCTSServer and cts.informatik.uni-leipzig.de).
  12. All source code must be available on Github under an appropriate open license so that third parties can freely reuse and build upon it.
  13. Source code must be designed and documented to facilitate actual (not just theoretically possible) reuse.
  14. The contractor will have the flexibility to get the job done but will be expected to work as closely as possible with, and to draw wherever possible upon the on-going work done by, the collaborators who are contributing to Open Greek and Latin. The contractor must have the right to decide how much collaboration makes sense.
  15. We would welcome a bids that bring to bear expertise in the EPUB format and that could help develop a model for representing for representing CTS-compliant Greek and Latin sources in EPUB as a mechanism to make these materials available on smartphones. We can already convert our TEI XML into EPUB. The goal here is to exploit the easiest ways to optimize the experience. We can, for example, convert one or more of our Greek and Latin lexica into the EPUB Dictionary format and use our morphological analyses to generate links from particular forms in a text to the right dictionary entry or entries. Can we represent syntactically analyzed sentences with SVG? Can we include dynamic translation alignments?

We will draw upon the following criteria in selecting a proposal.

  1. Price. The cost of the contract is important but will be by no means the most important factor.
  2. A credible plan that reflects the available portfolio of work by the contractor.
  3. A demonstrated understanding of the work and its goals. The Intrepid plan with commentary listed above provide a blueprint but we welcome proposals that suggest alternatives or add additional critiques. Even if such alternatives are not adopted, they can illustrate an understanding of the work that we propose.
  4. Demonstrated experience with the issues involved in searching and analyzing Greek and Latin would be highly desirable. Such experience is not by itself sufficient and not absolutely essential — Perseus and Open Greek and Latin collaborators can provide leadership here — but documented expertise in searching and analyzing Greek and Latin in a digital medium would be major advantage to the work proposed here.
  5. A credible commitment to work with the CTS API and to build upon existing code.
  6. The degree to which the proposed work indicates that academic and support staff at Leipzig, Tufts and elsewhere will be able to maintain and enhance the work done under this contract.
  7. The degree to which the proposed work helps us develop a detailed plan for future work that we can use as the basis for proposals to raise additional support.
  8. The degree to which the proposed work appears suited to languages other than Greek and Latin. While the brief period of the proposed work means that we will focus upon Greek and Latin, we want to see other collections served by the Scaife DL Viewer. These include the emerging Open Islamicate Texts Initiative, the CTS-compliant texts from the Croatian Latin Authors project, and Perseus collections besides Greek and Roman Materials.
  9. Ability to communicate, in both written and spoken form, in English. Proposals will be reviewed by international experts and must be in English. Likewise, academic collaborators are international and the working language of the contracted must be English.
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Update on Perseus 5.0/Open Greek and Latin

Late in 2016, we published plans for Leipzig to publish a request for proposals to begin work on what could be viewed as a new version of Perseus — something we have been calling Perseus 5.0 — but that we view as a general framework for browsing, searching, and reading historical texts in a range of languages. In the end, we decided upon two smaller preliminary tasks. The Perseus Project at Tufts signed a contract with the development company Eldarion to assess implementations of the CTS Protocol and particularly on the emerging microservices associated with that. Our initial focus was upon https://github.com/Capitains but a new implementation, optimized to run easily on local servers, has also emerged: https://github.com/ThomasK81/LightWeightCTSServer. Our goal has been to assess the degree to which these solutions could scale up to large volumes of traffic and to which they can be sustained. This assessment will conclude in June 2017.

After an RFP of its own, Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies also signed a contract with the development company Intrepid.io to conduct a two-week design sprint that will run from Tuesday, July 5 through Tuesday, July 18. The primary goal of the sprint will be to support searching of the texts in Open Greek and Latin as well as other openly licensed corpora, but searching implies reading, and we will looking for ways to leverage digital reading support methods. We focus especially on what I refer to as the Nagy method, a method that I learned from Greg Nagy when I was in my first year of college in 1975: at the time, Nagy had students compare the print concordance of Homer with a translation and in so doing to build up their own understanding of what the Greek words meant. The students needed to learn the Greek alphabet and to figure out which word in the English probably corresponded to the Greek term in the concordance, but they could do both and were able to engage directly with the Greek. This bilingual search can be generalized in a digital environment and we will build on efforts such as http://nlp.perseus.tufts.edu/lexicon/, http://ugarit.ialigner.com/, and http://divan-hafez.com/ in the new search environment.

More generally the goal here will be to help think through both tactical opportunities that are feasible in the short term and more strategic developments that will unfold over a longer period of time. One result of this will be (finally) the RFP from Leipzig, which we hope to release in the week of July 24. Proposals will be due within two weeks. A second result will be a longer term plan, with suggestions, if not a blueprint, for distributed community-based development. This longer term plan will focus broadly upon the themes of the Global Philology planning project that the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (https://www.bmbf.de) has funded.

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Update on the new MA in Digital Tools for Premodern Studies at Tufts

Beginning in Fall 2017
Applications due: February 15, 2017
General information: http://ase.tufts.edu/classics/graduate/digitalTools.htm

In September 2016, we announced the creation of a new MA at Tufts University (“Considering a post-bac in Classics? Think about the new MA in Digital Tools for Premodern Studies at Tufts.” This new program builds upon the established programs in Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as Sanskrit and Classical Arabic (which faculty in the Tufts Classics Department also already support), students are not limited to working with only these languages. If you have a historical language about which you feel passionate, we would welcome the opportunity to work on ways to support the development of skills in additional languages. Our goal is ultimately to support a global philology where students of many different languages from different cultures work more closely together.

During the fall, there were a number of developments of potential interest to applicants.

We now have a model for the opening semester, during which students will develop core skills and systematic exposure to work in Digital Classics as a whole in two complementary courses. The Computer Science Department has introduced a new course, an Introduction to Digital Humanities, taught by Prof. Marie-Claire Beaulieu, from the Department of Classics, and Dr. Anthony Bucci, a lecturer in Computer Science. This course focused particular upon the structure, visualization, and analysis of data in the Humanities and represents a step towards data science for the Humanities. In addition, Gregory Crane, Professor of Classics with a secondary appointment in Computer Science at Tufts, will teach a pro-seminar based upon the Sunoikisis Digital Classics Program. During 2016, Sunoikisis produced more than 30 online presentations, most with slides and readings, with a focus on language and text in the spring and summer and then in the fall on History and Archaeology. These two courses will give students a consistent curriculum and an opportunity to track the state-of-the-art in Digital Classics in the US and beyond.

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A New Version of Perseus and Academic Partnerships

An earlier blog entry pointed to a draft description of work on a new Perseus that we expect will appear, in some fashion, as a formal Request for Proposals from Leipzig in early January 2017. One reason to circulate this description is to get feedback. A second is to be able to explore different approaches before any formal RFP emerges. The comments in this blog are thus provisional and suggest possible directions. They constitute no promises.

We have heard from potential academic partners and would like to suggest an alternative approach. How we proceed will depend upon the response to the RFP when it is complete.

In suggesting an RFP, our goal was to focus on getting the job done and to do so by coming into a more formal contractual arrangement than is typical of academic partnerships and by drawing on more senior developers than are often available in an academic setting. We are particularly conscious that the skills that we require are highly in demand. The goal here is to build a new system and not, primarily, to conduct research. Nevertheless, the requirements are sufficiently distinct that publications should be possible in Digital Humanities, Digital Libraries or other areas.

We are open to the prospect of hiring someone in an academic context if suitable candidates are available. By far the easiest way for us to do that would be to hire someone at Leipzig — we could support at least one person full time for one year with additional part-time help. We might, in this scenario, pursue a hybrid approach and include also an external contract to supervise and augment what this person could do. It all depends upon the capabilities of who is available.

If we hire someone at Leipzig, that person would have to have demonstrated credible experience in developing user interfaces and supporting user interaction, a clear capability to build upon the CTS, XML and other foundations upon which the backend of the new Perseus depends and the other requirements (for which the draft RFP provides a provisional description).

Germany has formalized guidelines for how much it pays and, in our experience, there is very, very little flexibility. Working for a private firm is likely to pay more that Leipzig could offer. On other hand, a suitable candidate from abroad could expect to receive a visa with minimal difficulty (at least in comparison to the US), begin work immediately in an English-speaking work environment, and, at the same time, develop experience and contacts within Germany. If a candidate devoted time to learning the language while here, that experience and even an incipient command of the language could open up new professional prospects in Germany. At the same time, while we cannot guarantee anything beyond March 2018, there might well be possibilities for a particularly good fit to continue at Leipzig. Alternatively, this could involve someone who comes to Leipzig from another academic institution for a year and then returns.

In any event, given the relative prominence that the work will have (at least within the Humanities community), successful work on the new Perseus could provide distinctive elements to a portfolio. We could also imagine someone with a more academic background for whom work on the new Perseus would, in fact, advance an academic portfolio and who might well prove to be a long-term collaborator.

At this point, we would welcome recommendations of suitable people who might work at Leipzig. Again, we are making no formal promises but rather gauging possibilities as make final decisions as to whether to post a position at Leipzig in addition to (or conceivably in place of) a contract with a firm or professional consultant.

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Draft for a Request for Proposals for a new Perseus Digital Library

We expect that Leipzig University will release a formal RFP early in January. Until and unless Leipzig University does so, there are no promises or guarantees of any kind. Our goal is to give the community a chance to comment and potential contractors an opportunity to begin thinking about what they might do.

A draft is available at https://goo.gl/k4oRzw.

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Upcoming Request for Proposals for a new Perseus Digital Library

Gregory Crane
crane@informatik.uni-leipzig.de

The University of Leipzig is preparing to release a Request for Proposals from developers to begin work on a new version of Perseus. The proposed work will build upon the Canonical Text Services protocols in general and upon the CaPiTains Tool Suite and Guidelines for CTS in particular (http://capitains.github.io/ and in particular http://capitains.github.io/pages/guidelines). The proposed work builds upon the existing CTS server in the CapiTainS ToolSuite. The focus is primarily upon the interface.

We are seeking recommendations from members of the community (Digital Humanists and Digital Classicists as well as libraries) for developers. The call will be open but we want to make sure that we reach contractors with relevant experience — we are not building a standard e-commerce site. We need a contractor who will be able to take in our needs and who will be able to accomplish the job.

While we expect that the initial contract will last one year, there is a possibility of a second phase of work generalizing the initial efforts to support a wider range of language, as planning project for a possible Global Philology Project is underway.

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Lecture on “Visualization for Close and Distant Reading”

Gerik Scheuermann, Leipzig University, Germany
Olin Hall 007
6:00-7:15 PM
Wednesday October 19
Tufts University
Medford MA

Visualization plays a prominent role in digital humanities. It allows to communicate results of digital analysis to humanists. The talk presents four contributions in this area. We start with a CTS reader that allows for human access to digital resources based on the canonical text service that was orignally invented for computers only. We will show that using CTS addresses as links in texts written on a computer can be made simple in this way. We will continue with text variant graphs that can be laid out in a way that allows for simple comparison of several text variants. We study this using 8 versions of the bible as example. The third contribution concerns GeoTemCo, a javascript based web service for the study of larger datasets with geographic location and timestamp for each data item. The service includes comparison of up to four different datasets and access to individual objects via spatial and temporal selection. Finally, we will show how interactive visual analysis helps with studying similarities and differences between musicians from a large database.

Short biography:
Gerik Scheuermann received the master degree (diplom) in mathematics in 1995 and a PhD degree in computer science in 1999, both from the Technical University of Kaiserslautern. He is a full professor at the University of Leipzig since 2004. He has coauthored more than 200 reviewed book chapters, journal articles, and conference
papers. His current research interests focus on visualization and visual analytics, especially on feature and topology-based methods, flow visualization, environmental visualization, medical visualization, document visualization and visualization for life sciences. He has served as paper co-chair for all major conferences in visualization (Eurovis 2008, IEEE SciVis 2011, IEEE SciVis 2012, and IEEE PacificVis 2015). He has organized TopoInVis 2007, AGACSE 2008, EuroVis 2013, and the Dagstuhl seminar on Visualization in 2014. He was associated editor of IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 2008-2012, and is currently an associated editor of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, The Visual Computer and Computer Graphics Forum. In addition, he serves as speaker of the working group on visualization in the German Computer Science Society (Gesellschaft für Informatik, GI) since 2011.

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Call for Papers – “Open Conference on Digital Infrastructures for Global Philology”

February 20-23, 2017 Leipzig, Germany

http://www.dh.uni-leipzig.de/wo/events/global-philology-open-conference/

The Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig, Germany, will host an “Open Conference on Digital Infrastructures for Global Philology” from February 20-23, 2017 at the University of Leipzig. The purpose of this conference is to bring together members of the larger scholarly community, both within and outside of Germany with a focus on, but not limited to, those scholars working with historical languages. This conference should help both to advance the discussions already happening between large and medium-sized infrastructure-building projects on the one hand and (digital) humanities scholars on the other and to introduce new topics that have yet to find a forum for public discussion.

Possible topics for proposed papers include, but are not limited to, the following questions:

●  What digital services, collections and curricula have emerged from particular funded projects that are of such general utility that they can be adopted as part of a long-term infrastructure upon which students of a field, at every level of expertise, can depend for years and decades?

●  What infrastructure developments within larger fields (including large European infrastructure projects such as Clarin, Dariah and Europeana but also substantive efforts in the natural and life sciences) provide foundations upon which historical languages can build?

●  What digital services, collections or curricula need to be developed so that a field of study can flourish in a digital society?

●  What funding mechanisms and organizational structures are in place/need to be put in place in libraries, computing centers, and academic departments?

The deadline for paper submissions is November 15, 2016. Submissions and review will be handled through the EasyChair system.

Please visit https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=gphil2017 if you wish to submit a paper for review. Decisions about submissions will be made by November 30, 2016. Limited funding will be available for reimbursement of the travel expenses of presenters.

The context for this conference is a planning project, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (https://www.bmbf.de/). An English version of the proposal is available at http://tinyurl.com/hsenh44.

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Considering a post-bac in Classics? Think about the new MA in Digital Tools for Premodern Studies at Tufts.

http://asegrad.tufts.edu/academics/explore-graduate-programs/digital-humanities

This blog focuses upon what this program offers to students who have traditionally participated in post-baccalaureate programs to prepare for a PhD program in Greco-Roman studies. Two years ago I published a blog entitled “So you want to become a professor of Greek and/or Latin? Think hard about a PhD in Digital Humanities.” Here I talk about something that we have done at Tufts to improve the situation, creating an MA in Digital Tools for Premodern Studies that allows students to address two common challenges: the need to read more Greek and Latin and to familiarize themselves with the digital methods upon which their teaching and research will increasingly depend in the decades to come. You would then be in a position to pursue a PhD in those more traditional departments where faculty realize that junior scholars must adapt and that their own programs are not yet in a position to provide that training.

Before focusing on this particular topic, I do want to emphasize that the new MA in Digital Humanities for Premodern Studies, of course, also provides opportunities for a range of different subsequent career tracks. Libraries are being reinvented and demand personnel who can work with born-digital data about the past. All PhD Programs that engage with the human textual record need students who can exploit the latest digital methods. And the methods that students encounter in this program come from fields such as corpus and computational linguistics, text mining and visualization, geospatial and social network analysis, citizen science and other areas of general and emerging importance. The MA is also intended to support a growing range of historical languages and contexts; the Tufts Department of Classics already offers classes in Sanskrit (thanks to Anne Mahoney) as well as Greek and Latin and supports research in Classical Arabic (thanks to Riccardo Strobino). The two chairs of Classics who led the development of this program, past-chair Vickie Sullivan and current-chair Ioannis Evrigenis, are political philosophers with primary appointments in Political Science and their research offers opportunities for students who wish to explore early modern culture and its connections to the ancient world. Certain this connects to my own belief that we must redefine the meaning of Classics to include all Classical languages from the around the world (if we don’t just jettison this value-laden term in favor of historical languages or something more descriptive).

Our hope is to support an increasing range of languages and faculty will work with potential applicants to find ways to address their interests. But for those students who are looking for a program to prepare them for PhD programs in Greco-Roman studies or in fields where advanced knowledge of Greek or Latin are particularly helpful, the new MA in Digital Humanities for Premodern Studies offers a new approach.

Over the past generation a number of post-bac programs have emerged to help students expand their knowledge of Greek and Latin in preparation for PhD study. More recently, a new challenge has emerged: to exploit the possibilities and meet the challenges of a digital age, the study of Greek, Latin and all historical languages needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. In a very real sense, we have no modern editions, no modern lexica, no modern commentaries, no modern encyclopedias and no modern publications because our scholarship and the infrastructure upon which it resides still reflects, even when it appears in digital form, the limitations of print rather the possibilities of digital media. The study of historical languages — even languages like Greek and Latin, which have been the object of analysis for thousands of years — is in the process of reinventing itself. The challenge is to exploit the best from millennia of work, but to do so critically, identifying and transcending problematic assumptions about what we do and why. And if we are to do so, we need a new generation of researchers and teachers who have a command of emerging digital methods. Few PhD programs in Greek, Latin, or any other historical language are in a position to provide such expertise — the Digital Classicists who have emerged have been largely self-taught and many of those considered to be Digital Classicists (myself included) wish that they had had an opportunity for more formal training.

The new MA in Premodern Studies at Tufts thus addresses two different challenges, and does so in a way where work on each challenge reinforces the other. If students wish to improve their command of texts in historical languages such as Greek and Latin, one of the best ways is to take charge of a text and create the beginnings of its first truly digital edition.

What constitutes a truly digital edition?

  • A truly digital edition does not simply have digitized textual notes, modern language translation, and indices for people, places and primary sources that quote a text (e.g., the Greek texts that quote a particular passage of the Iliad) or that the text itself quotes (e.g., the authors that such as Plutarch or Athenaeus quote). A truly digital edition contains links to digital representations of the manuscripts, papyri, inscribed stones or other textual witnesses.
  • A truly digital edition does not simply add upper- and lower-case, paragraph breaks, and modern punctuation but explicitly encodes the morphological, syntactic, and semantic judgments upon which these print-culture conventions of annotation depend and to which they loosely allude. A truly digital edition encodes the best available data about which Alexander or which Alexandria a particular passage in a particular text designates and then captures social and geographical relationships in a format that can be automatically analyzed and dynamically visualized.
  • A truly digital edition encodes quotations within and references to a text as hypertextual links among evolving digital editions.
  • A truly digital edition can accommodate translations into multiple different modern languages, with each translation aligned, as appropriate, at the word and phrase level, both to help readers more effectively work with the original and to support new forms of scholarly analysis (e.g., using translation alignments to study changes in word sense over time).
  • At Tufts you can work with the emerging digital publication environment developed by the Perseids Project, create geospatial publications with Pelagios Commons, develop a project within the collaborative framework of the Homer Multitext project or any other open digital project. If you want to demonstrate to a potential PhD program your capacity to understand Greek and Latin, as well as your mastery of new digital methods, you can create a portfolio of your work and contribute to the next version of the Perseus Digital Library which is now under development at Tufts, Leipzig and elsewhere. The two year program allows you to develop a mature portfolio when Phd applications are due in December of your second year.

    Gregory Crane
    Program Director
    MA in Digital Humanities for Premodern Studies
    Winnick Family Chair of Technology and Entrepreneurship
    Professor of Classics
    Editor-in-Chief, Perseus Digital Library
    Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
    Tufts University

    Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities
    Leipzig University

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