By Amalia Juneström, Department of ALM, Uppsala University
My name is Amalia, and I’m a PhD student from the Department of ALM at Uppsala University. Thanks to a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond – The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences – which allows researchers to attend the annual summer school for the digital humanities at Oxford University, I had the privilege of participating in the week-long summer school in Oxford earlier this summer.
When I left for Oxford, I had already been involved in the planning of our own new international and interdisciplinary digital humanities master’s programme, which will start in our department this autumn. It has been an enjoyable experience, and I was looking forward to participating further. However, although I was well aware of the increasing role played by tools and techniques from the digital humanities field within my own discipline, my relationship to them had so far been tangential. To tell the truth, my own experience of many of the new computer-based techniques used within both my own field and the digital humanities had been one based on a mixture of fascination and trepidation. In short, I felt an urgent need to broaden my understanding of this knowledge domain; the opportunity to participate in a one-week introduction course was therefore much appreciated.
The summer school offered a variety of strands providing insight into different domains of knowledge within the digital landscape. In order to improve my general understanding of the digital humanities, I chose the strand ‘An Introduction to Digital Humanities’. In terms of participant numbers, this strand turned out to be by far the largest within the summer school, and it was well suited for those who, like me, wanted to better acquaint themselves with the tools and methods found within the interdisciplinary field of the digital humanities. Unlike the other workshop-based strands, which offered hands-on practical training in the techniques and tools of each course, the strand that I chose was mainly lecture based, making it well suited to beginners. By drawing on expertise from many different fields, the lectures offered insight into a range of research approaches embraced by the digital humanities.
During the five days of the summer school, we checked out a selection of research scopes such as text mining, digital archiving and musicology. I think that everyone who participated found it useful to go through such a wide variety of topics, digital tools and methodological spheres of application. All in all, I found the selection of themes and topics at the summer school very well organised and rewarding. Also, I am truly convinced that location and setting can have a great impact on the outcomes of learning, and what location could be better for acquiring new knowledge than Oxford, one of the world’s most famous centres of learning? But even if you don’t believe there’s a connection between location and successful learning, the historical setting made the experience highly memorable, and I really appreciated our accommodations in the romantically Victorian red-brick Keble college, whose historical atmosphere was reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited.
By attending the summer school, I definitely acquired a better understanding of some of the research methods and techniques which are important within my own research field and which are of interest to my own academic journey. I would like to thank Riksbankens Jubileumsfond for the opportunity to take part in the summer school, and I encourage everyone who has an interest in the digital humanities to check out the programme for next year’s summer school and apply!