SKILLNET – Sharing Knowledge in Learned and Literary Networks


SKILLNET International Conference 17-18 Nov 2022

Digital approaches to the Republic of Letters: network research, text mining, and infrastructures

Utrecht University, 17-18 November (Thursday & Friday)

Key-note speakers and provisional titles:

Sepideh Alassi (University of Basel – Digital Humanities Lab):
The Bernoulli-Euler Online Project (BEOL)
Eero Hyvönen (Aalto University/University of Helsinki – HELDIG):
LetterSampo – Historical Letters on the Semantic Web: A Framework and Its Application to Publishing and Using Epistolary Data

Why do certain learned people and scientific communities prevail over others? The answers to this question are no doubt to be found in processes of knowledge transfer, authorization, crisis-management, stabilization and community formation. Various projects study these processes using digital technologies. But how exactly do we operationalize such processes in digital research of networks and textual or pictorial repositories? How do we come to answers about power distribution, cultural hegemony and authorization of knowledge, based on digital analyses of big historical knowledge-data?

This two-day conference takes stock of digital research of the learned community of (early) modern Europe. What kind of experiments have been conducted? What kind of historical questions have we been able to answer with DH methods? How successful are we in linking datasets? What are best practices when it comes to merging datasets? What is the state of our current infrastructures?

We invite scholars of all career stages to send in a proposal of max. 300 words to present digital experiments and studies of the history of early modern learning. Although letters are by far the most frequently digitized sources, we also invite presentations about disputations, journals, catalogues, alba studiosorum, alba amicorum, and other media constituting the ecology of sources that students of the Commonwealth of Learning draw on. We will have room for about 10-12 speakers. The proposals will be anonymized by our project manager, Lara Boon, and the SKILLNET team will then review the submissions blindly.

More practical and background information via this link.


The ERC Consolidator project ‘Sharing Knowledge in Learned and Literary Networks – The Republic of Letters as a Pan-European Knowledge Society’ (SKILLNET), under the direction of Dr Dirk van Miert, conducts research into the ideal of sharing knowledge within early modern scholarly networks in Europe by applying social network analysis and text mining techniques to the metadata and full-text data of large quantities of manuscript and printed letters from the period 1500-1800.

Read more about the project in the Spring 2020 issue of EU Research.

Dirk van Miert presents the project at the ERC Day ‘Utrecht Inspires’ on 28 March 2017