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Centers of Excellence

Francophone Digital Humanities - 2

Project coordinator: Helen SOLTERER

Total costs of the project: $34.800
Embassy of France support: $10.000

Summary of the Project

Digital Humanities are progressively changing the ways scholars work today.  Access to materials, leading research questions, modes of teaching: all our activities are taking new shape in response to digital media.  Through initiatives engaging with libraries, academics are investigating innovative practices and opening up research to wider audiences.  As partnerships multiply, our thinking is becoming more collaborative, and in the process, we are exploring different methods of interpreting a wealth of material.

In the global framework of Digital Humanities, a linguistic picture of inequality still prevails.  The perception of English dominating remains so strong that it risks obscuring advances in digitizing French resources.  The Bibliothèque de France, among other institutions in France and Europe, is taking a leading role.  Yet the technical structures needed to build on work in the Francophone domain do not always correspond to those of American universities.  Our research group from departments of Romance Studies, History, and Music, is pursuing collaboration on a large scale with Francophone groups abroad.

The 5 projects composing our proposal will contribute significantly to Francophone digital resources across a historical spectrum.  From Césaire’s poetry to early manuscripts in European collections, from Gustave Lanson’s literary criticism to New Wave film archives to Haitian ethnopsychiatry, our work is creating an important repertory.  We’re working to make this body of material easily and widely accessible, not only to researchers, but to the general public.  Open access is for us a question of interpretation; each project is responding to it differently, pursuing data mining, digital philology, and ‘inter-operable’ among other archival techniques.  We intend this variety of approaches to provide a model for testing what thinking with digital surrogates can create.  Secondly, working in French is our commitment to a deeply multi-lingual medium of scholarship.   We are developing new partnerships with institutions, such as the Cinémathèque, consolidating existing collaborations, such as with the Digital Library of the Caribbean and the University of Paris-Denis Diderot; we are pursuing new connections with European archives with French holdings such as the State Archives in Turin, and we are establishing links between Duke’s librairies and editors and those abroad.  A second grant year will enable us to prepare for a digitally minded public: a virtual Cahier, a new ensemble of early literary manuscripts, a Duke-Diderot-Cinémathèque video seminar, an unprecedented Lanson pamphlet archive, and Haiti’s first ever digital library.