Monday, November 24, 2014

Digital Seminar Series Event 2 at Hardiman Building 27 Nov.

Digital Scholarship Seminar. THU 27 NOV, 12-2pm. G1001 Hardiman Research Building.

Creating a database of Irish international trade 1698-1829
Dr Aidan Kane (Economics, NUI Galway), Dr Patrick A Walsh (History, UCD), Dr Eoin Magennis (InterTrade Ireland)

What are the potential benefits of applying mathematical network theory to Humanities sources?
Dr Máirín Mac Carron (History, NUI Galway)

The second event of this semester’s Digital Scholarship Seminar features talks on databases in economic history and on mathematics meeting mythology (abstracts below). Featuring both local and visiting speakers, this event will focus on two projects with interdisciplinary methods at their core. Please join us for this seminar on Thu 27 November. Presentation and discussion will take place in Room G1001, Hardiman Building (first floor) from 12-1pm, and will be followed by lunch and further discussion from 1-2pm.
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Creating a database of Irish international trade 1698-1829
We report on work-in-progress in capturing and interpreting data from a unique set of records of Ireland’s international trade, the “Customs 15" ledgers housed in the UK National Archives. These (hand-written) records span the period 1698 to 1829, with at least one c.50-folio volume for each year. They record (in remarkably internally consistent and stable formats) Ireland’s exports and imports in each year, for hundreds of commodities, detailing quantities, prices, and values, distinguished by main trading partners, and by Irish port, along with summary tables of shipping tonnage and trade-related tax revenue (these latter two also detailed by port). Only a small proportion of the wealth of the data these records contain has been accessible to date. Having digitised a sample of these volumes and captured some data, we report on the challenges of data capture, management, presentation, curation, and interpretation in anticipation of a larger project to make this unique resource available to a wide community. See

What are the potential benefits of applying mathematical network theory to Humanities sources?

I recently applied mathematical network theory to Humanities sources, following collaboration with mathematicians, as part of my involvement in an ESF-funded exploratory workshop called ‘Maths meets Myths’, held at Coventry University (10-13 September 2014). My test cases are accounts of saints’ lives (hagiographies) from seventh- and eighth-century Anglo-Saxon England. Following presentation of my preliminary findings, the paper will pose questions such as: does network theory tell us anything that we could not already infer from close textual study? For network theory to be effective, do our sources need to contain a minimum or maximum number of characters? Is it necessary for humanities scholars to work closely with mathematicians in order to get the greatest benefit from such quantitative research tools?

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