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University of Chicago (Chicago, IL 60637-5418)
Robert Morrissey (Project Director: May 2013 to June 2016)
Commonplace Cultures: Mining Shared Passages in the 18th Century using Sequence Alignment and Visual Analytics

A project to trace the practice and influence of textual and visual materials found in early modern European commonplaces, thematic organizations of quotations and other passages for later use. The project is led by humanities scholars and computer scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Oxford's e-Research Centre and Voltaire Foundation. The UK partner is requesting £125,000 from the UK funding consortium.

Recent scholarship has demonstrated that the various practices associated with Early Modern commonplacing--the extraction and organization of quotations and other passages for later recall and reuse--were highly effective strategies for dealing with the perceived "information overload" of the period. But, the 18th century was also a crucial moment in the modern construction of a new sense of self-identity. Our goal is to examine this paradigm shift in 18th-century culture from the perspective of commonplaces and their textual and historical deployment in the contexts of collecting, reading, writing, classifying, and learning. These practices allowed individuals to master a collective literary culture through the art of commonplacing, a nexus of intertextual activities that we aim to explore through the concerted application of sequence alignment algorithms for shared passage detection and large-scale visual analytics on the largest collection of 18th-century works ever assembled.

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Project fields:
Computer Science; Interdisciplinary Studies, Other

Digging into Data

Digital Humanities

$124,948 (approved)
$124,948 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2014 – 12/31/2015