Digitizing Enlightenment III:

A Workshop on Early Modern Prosopography and Network Analysis


Digitizing Enlightenment is a series of workshops which is establishing its domain as a major area of innovation in the digital humanities.

The first convening of DE was in Sydney in 2016 and launched discussions about common problems and solutions, and identified topics for collaboration in pursuit of interoperability, among six major DH projects in the field of Enlightenment Studies: 1) ARTFL (U of Chicago), 2) Mapping the Republic of Letters (Stanford), 3) the Comédie Française Registres Project (MIT/Paris-Sorbonne/Nanterre), 4) the French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe (Western Sydney), 5) the Electronic Enlightenment (Oxford) and 6) MEDIATE (Radboud).

The second gathering in Nijmegen in June of 2017 continued these discussions and opened up more lines of discussion and possible collaborative research across Europe.

These meetings established an international network of major Digital Humanities projects on 17th and 18th-century European intellectual history which have sought to identify and work collaboratively on shared research problems, solutions and resources generated by their respective research programs to facilitate more comprehensive approaches to some of the major problems in the field today.

Oxford’s hosting of DE III in 2018 was first raised at the close of the Nijmegen conference, to general enthusiasm, and a formal invitation followed in the early fall. The prospect offered an opportunity to build upon a day-long workshop organised by the Voltaire Foundation in Trinity term 2017, which revealed a real convergence of interest in bringing together a set of overlapping DH research projects based at Oxford -- including (1) the Newton Project, (2) the correspondence of Catherine the Great, (3) Digital Voltaire, (4) the Electronic Enlightenment, (5) Cultures of Knowledge / EMLO (6) the Quill Project and other on-going work at the Bodleian Library, Oxford e-Research Centre and the Oxford Internet Institute -- each of which will be involved in this workshop.

The theme and scope of DE III is more focused than the prior meetings. Although the first two meetings were omnibus in theme, the third will focus more narrowly on the hot topic of historical prosopography and network analysis: this is an area in which the DE network could potentially provide leadership, and which could provide technical solutions which allow the integration of a whole range of ambitious projects in this field. In size, the first two conferences were modest in size but quite international: 15-20 papers over two days, with 30-40 people in attendance. With a narrower focus, the third one is also even more international (with participants from Australia, Austria, France, Germany, the US, and the UK). Its format will be more concentrated, in the form of six round-tables, each dedicated to proposal and discussion of functional solutions to real-world problems already encountered in network analysis and prosopography of this period and a final round table dedicated to discussion of next and future steps in this collaborative work. It will also feature six short presentations of projects in progress