OSL Workshop: Generalizations, Hypotheses, Evidence in Literary Studies

OSL Workshop: Generalizations, Hypotheses, Evidence in Literary Studies

Online workshop | Friday 23 October 2020, 16:00-17:30 (CEST time) | Organizer: Roel Smeets (Radboud University) | Keynote: Prof. Andrew Piper (McGill University) | 1-2 EC | Open to: PhD, RMA students and staff members.

RMa students who are interested in taking this workshop can send an e-mail with their motivation to osl@rug.nl. Don’t forget to specify your master program, university and national research school.


THE WORKSHOP IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to osl@rug.nl. We will put you on our waiting list.

How do we move from particular examples to more general statements about the literary world? This is what I will be calling the practice of generalization, and it effects all knowledge domains. While other fields have long grappled with this problem, literary studies has yet to engage in sustained discussion surrounding the principles and procedures through which we produce generalized knowledge about the world. The rise of computational and quantitative forms of evidence have made this issue particularly relevant today, especially for a field that has traditionally relied on anecdotal or exemplary forms of evidence. This workshop will initiate a discussion about the place of generalization within literary studies, problems attending its current practice, issues introduced by data and quantification, and possible future pathways surrounding more open forms of evidence and argumentation.

OSL Course: Creative Writing ‘Poetics – A Practioner’s Guide’

Creative Writing ‘Poetics – A Practioner’s Guide’

Online skills course | 2, 9, 16, 30 October and 6 November 2020, 12:00-15:00 | Coordinator: Dr David Ashford (Groningen) | 5 EC

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access.


This course will introduce participants to poetic genres, forms and metres, enabling them to develop, or to expand upon their own practice, as creative writers. Participants will study poetry from a variety of traditions, in order to understand how poetic form is determined by its original context in performance, and by the information, musical and theatrical technologies necessary to that original performative context. Far from being arbitrary or inorganic restrictions upon individual creativity, poetic form will emerge as the response to a context in performance that may since have been lost; as something organic, evolving and (potentially) still very much alive. Over a series of seminars and creative writing workshops, featuring poets invited to reflect upon their own practice, participants will investigate how ancient poetics have been (and might be) adapted for the creation of contemporary poetries, being introduced to recent research on creative writing as an historical and a discursive phenomenon. In addition, participants will learn to use creative-writing techniques as a form of artistic research and as an element of their methodologies.

Useful resources for online teaching

Dear Members of the OSL Community,

We would like to share with you a couple of links that might be useful in the context of our current transition to online teaching:

1. Webinar by Prof. Eric Mazur (Harvard), How to flip your class online: https://calendly.com/ericmazur/fliponline?month=2020-04 (available slots on Monday 20 and Thursday 30 April)

2. Informational video on Perusall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxEfWdfxj28&t=4s Perusall is a social annotation tool developed by Harvard University; more details can be found here.

All the best,

The OSL Team

From Distant Reading to Distant Viewing:  Using Computer Vision to Enrich Historical and Literary Research

The Hague | NB: Postponed to February – March 2021; more details will follow as soon as possible.

Venue: Dutch Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5, 2595 BE The Hague. Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students who are a member of a Dutch National Research School. Members of OSL and the Huizinga Institute have first access.

Available places: 20 (lecture programme + workshop) and an additional 20 places for auditors (lecture programme only).

Credits: More details on credits and assignments will be available soon; registration will open in early April.

Coordination: Sophie van den Elzen and Thomas Smits (Utrecht University)
Keynote: Leo Impett (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome); more guests will be announced soon.


Digital humanities research has long been strongly textually oriented (Arnold and Tilton 2019). Increasingly, however, methods are being developed to incorporate the visual into DH analyses. This workshop will introduce participants to the basics of “distant viewing”: cutting-edge computer vision techniques in humanities research.
Like distant reading, these methods have proven useful to perform (historical) cultural analyses at a macro-scale. They can be used, for instance, to analyze the relationship between text and image in the nineteenth-century transnational press, to map the circulation of images in internet culture, to do visual stylometry (authorship attribution), or to study pictorial traditions, genres and motives in thousands of paintings. However, technological gains in computer vision go beyond merely increasing the scale at which we can research cultural phenomena. They also have the potential to change how we understand the cultural work of the visual vs. the textual, as they challenge traditional views of how images are consumed, cognitively processed, and assigned meaning (Moretti and Impett 2017; Arnold and Tilton 2019).
The day is intended for early-stage researchers who would like to learn about the principles, possibilities and pitfalls of research methods based on computer vision. Learning more about this may complement what you already know about digital humanities methods of ‘distant reading’, or help you think about how your current research questions could be operationalized at the larger scale. Or it may inspire you to formulate new project ideas. In any case, by the end of the day, you will have a sense of 1) what sorts of new research questions you can formulate with these methods, 2) what the workflow of this research looks like and 3) where to start: what are some collections, at the KB and beyond, which you can begin to explore using these techniques.
The day will start with a keynote by Leo Impett, whose work applies computer vision to analyze Aby Warburg’s Bilderatlas. After this, the trainers will give brief presentations on their own research, which are intended to inspire you to look at the possibilities of these methods for your own research interests. The afternoon consists of a hands-on workshop for max. 20 participants, in which we will go on a guided computational exploration of a dataset using the programming language Python. The day will also offer ample opportunity to discuss research ideas with trainers, peers and members of the KB team.