Digital Scholarship Seminar | Tuesday 23 February | 12pm

The second event of this series of Digital Scholarship Seminar @ NUI Galway takes place on Tuesday 23 February at 12pm in Hardiman Building Room 1001. Greta Franzini, from the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities, will present a paper on the study and automatic detection of text reuse occurring in historical texts, with examples taken from a case study of the writings of the Brothers Grimm. Lunch will be provided and, as ever, all are welcome.

12-2pm // Tuesday 23 February // Room 1001 (First Floor) Hardiman Research Building // Facebook event page

Greta Franzini, University of Göttingen / University College London

Grimms Märchen: Investigating an intertextual puzzle of fairy tales. 

As the name suggests, the Electronic Text Reuse Acquisition Project (eTRAP) concerns itself with the study and automatic detection of text reuse, and particularly that occurring in historical texts. Text reuse takes various forms, ranging from verbatim quotations to paraphrasing and allusions, and can happen within one language or across multiple languages. Historical texts pose numerous challenges to automatic reuse detection due to the fragmentary and inconsistent survival of works, but also because of the synchronic and diachronic evolution of language. Unlike modern texts where sources are quoted and cited, historical texts are not always so transparent, thus opening up exciting opportunities for intertextual research.

Our case study, the famous fairy tale collection Kinder-und Hausmärchen by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, is a prime example of textual and cultural collision. The Brothers collected and adapted their stories from earlier works, some of them dating as far back as the seventh century BC. The text reuse units contained in their tales, the motifs, allow us to digitally investigate cross-cultural parallels at both small and larger scales. Our analysis of motifs is aided by two additional datasets: a corpus of 36,000 digitised personal letters belonging to the Grimm family and a list of the books owned by the Brothers. These textual resources give us a window into the writing of the tales, helping us better understand the puzzle of intertextual relations between the Grimm collection and their predecessors or followers. The letters disclose conversations the Brothers had between themselves and with their acquaintances, while the books carry their sources of knowledge and inspiration.

This talk will elaborate on the aims, methods and progress of this new research project, with a view to eliciting a rich discussion on the potential of automatic text reuse detection for the study of intertextuality at scale.

Greta Franzini completed her Classics BA and Digital Humanities MA degrees at King’s College London. Greta is currently completing a PhD at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and works as a full-time researcher at the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities. Greta’s interests lie within the fields of Classical philology, Manuscript Studies and Textual Criticism. Previously, she worked as a Research Associate at the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig. As of July 2015, Greta is an Executive Board member of Digital Medievalist and Associate Editor of the Digital Medievalist Journal.