The Digital Humanities group at the University of Amsterdam is lead by Professor Rens Bod. The group studies all humanities material–text, language, image, sound–through digital and computational means. Digital material and methods not only allow scholars to perform certain traditional tasks faster, but also allow for new questions and new approaches. Discoveries of historical, linguistic, musical, literary and other patterns by digital means in big data sets have given an enormous impulse to the traditional humanities.
Our focus is on the underlying digital approaches and methods in the humanities at large. We develop and use computational models to search for and interpret new patterns in humanities data/material which can answer complex humanities research questions in a meaningful way.
Through computational models, we can also explore overlap and similarities between humanities disciplines, such as between language and music, or between history and literature. Such an exploration can offer a perspective that unites the broad and diverse range of disciplines and goes beyond the common theme of using digital methods in individual disciplines.
The long term vision is to develop computational/digital methods that can not only discover patterns in text, image and sound, but also interpret and ascribe meaning to them. Complex meaning can be derived by taking into account not only the texts or images themselves, but also their context: how patterns are perceived and valued and how these perceptions and values change through time. This is one of the grand challenges for eHumanities.