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The University of Cambridge is made up of six academic Schools. Research in the Digital Humanities is mainly undertaken in the School of Arts and Humanities and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, which together comprise eighteen faculties and departments including CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities).

But the DH research community at Cambridge extends across four of the six Schools, along with the University Library, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. In addition to researchers based in the humanities and social sciences departments, there are others in STEM subjects who have taken part in DH projects. The largest group of STEM researchers in the Digital Humanities is based in the Computer Laboratory, namely, the Natural Language and Information Processing Research Group (NLIP), which undertakes research in computational linguistics and a range of related topics. Other computer scientists are interested in big data methods for social science, social media and policy, visual representation, aesthetic image processing, end-user development, and interdisciplinary design. There is a smaller group of STEM researchers in physical sciences who have applied imaging techniques in arts and conservation or undertaken network analysis in the humanities.

A recent audit revealed that Cambridge DH researchers have been involved in over 100 major projects, many of which have attracted significant financial support from external funders. This collective body of work has been widely praised for the innovative methods and tools developed to investigate diverse data and media in both traditional and new forms, along with issues, ideas, behaviours, and much else. DH research at Cambridge has also vigorously interrogated and reflected on the knowledge and insight that 'the digital' affords.

Several thematic clusters have emerged in recent DH research at the University of Cambridge, although these do not encompass all of our research activity. To read the issue of Research Horizons dedicated to Digital Humanities at Cambridge, click here.


 

In recent years Cambridge's DH researchers have been involved in over 100 major projects, many of which have gained significant financial support from external funders. Major funding has also been provided by the Isaac Newton Trust, enabling CDH to create new postdoctoral research fellowships in DH. In addition, the University has established a Professorship in Digital Humanities. In recent years, five principal thematic clusters have emerged within the broad landscape of DH research activity at the University.

Digital editing

Cambridge is internationally renowned for its work in digital editing, with a long track record of prestigious initiatives including the Casebooks ProjectArthur Schnitzler Digital, the Darwin Correspondence Project, and the Online Chopin Variorum Edition. These and other digital editing projects at Cambridge are actively exploring the possibilities of new digital methods for their work and for those using the emergent editions. The nature of these advances contributes to ever more sustainable tools and outputs that have a potentially global scale. The networked digital age has also opened the door to experimenting with crowdsourcing as a public engagement tool and to using network analysis and a range of data visualisation techniques that enable greater understanding of the relationships between people and places within texts.

Data and society

Another cluster of research projects is exploring the ethical, political and social implications of the expansion of social media data in particular, and the creation of Big Data more generally. This cluster complements the work of researchers in the Computer Laboratory, but it brings a distinctively social science/humanities-based approach to bear on social media and Big Data research problems. Recent initiatives include the Conspiracy and Democracy project; the Technology, Democracy and the Digital Society strands at the Cambridge Centre for Digital Knowledge (CCDK);  the Africa's Voices project at the Centre of Governance and Human Rights; and the interdisciplinary Ethics of Big Data research groupThe Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, which is led by Cambridge, marks an important change in the landscape of DH research: it aims to create a new community of researchers in Artificial Intelligence, drawing on the intellectual resources of a variety of disciplines from engineering and computer science to the humanities and social sciences.

Theories and practices for the humanities at scale

The Concept Lab within the CCDK is playing a key role in encouraging the development of research in digital epistemology. It is endeavouring to generate and deploy computational methods and is working with large datasets in order to describe and analyse the functioning and historical development of conceptual forms. Other Cambridge projects in this area seek to utilise data science infrastructure and expertise from the Cambridge Computer Lab, Research Computing Services, Cambridge Big Data and the Alan Turing Institute in order to explore and analyse the rich collections of the University Library and Cambridge University Press in collaboration with humanities scholars, librarians and archivists.

Visual culture in the digital age

From the twentieth century onward, the production and consumption of visual material has become central to our understanding of society, history and culture. Much of this material is now digital, through the proliferation of born-digital visual content or through the digitisation of historic media. Cambridge has a well-established presence in the field of visual culture research and teaching through the Cambridge Screen Media Research Group and select research projects. Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic, which is building a comprehensive database of images of the bubonic plague pandemic, is one of a cluster of projects focusing on visual culture research. Making Visible explores the visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society, while Seeing Things aims to create an interdisciplinary research environment for scholars of the early modern period to debate methodologies for the study of material and visual culture.

Imaging

Ubiquitous, in daily life today, digital images have become indispensable tools in, research and pedagogical environments. The interdisciplinary Images Network  provides a platform for sharing developments in imaging in order to benefit the University as a whole. Specific investment in equipment, skills and networks through DH projects also continues to drive imaging capabilities within Cambridge. The University Library and the Fitzwilliam Museum are internationally renowned for advancing the standards and techniques used in imaging. Providing researchers with the highest standard of imaging and access to new and evolving technologies allows them to directly partner with projects and also presents an opportunity to explore the sustainability of the outputs through research into digital preservation