International Summer School: Visual Analysis with Digital Tools

The Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities (GCDH) is hosting an International Summer School focusing on the ‘Visual Analysis with Digital Tools’. It is aimed at MA and PhD level students and will take place in Göttingen from 28 July to 1 August 2014. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2014.


The Digital Humanities enhance the methods of traditional research in the humanities through automated data acquisition and processing. Visualisations can play a central role in analysing such data. This Summer School will address a set of fundamental problems, such as requirements for scientific visualisation or visual strategies. The main goal, however, is to focus on the practical side to enable the participants to tackle specific visualisation problems in order to advance their own research.

A set of tools has emerged in recent years and has introduced a number of visualisation practices into the humanities. Charts, graphics, 3D visualisations or “Maps, Graphs, Trees” (to quote the title of a well-known recent book on the subject), should not only illustrate, but also create new knowledge. Only then can we call visualisations a true method in the Digital Humanities. Or, to paraphrase Edward Tufte, visualisations should not be implemented for their own sake, but should be used to address “thinking tasks” as a tool for new insights.


There will be two separate strands:

1. Analysing Words and Networks with ConText: Information and Relation Extraction from Text Data, Network Visualisation and Analysis

The focus of this workshop is on teaching practical, hands-on skills for using text analysis methods in an informed, systematic and efficient fashion. Our goal is to equip the participants with the skills and tools needed to use the covered techniques for their own research and text data sets.

Going from texts to networks involves some principles and strategies originating from computer science that are not only applicable to the task at hand, but to a wide range of problems. These principles and strategies are referred to as “Computational Thinking” – a basic skill like reading, writing and arithmetic that is crucial for solving problems and understanding human behaviour across fields (Wing 2006). In this workshop, participants are introduced to Computational Thinking and practise applying this way of thinking. We will use ConText and Gephi as primary software.

The workshop will be held by Jana Diesner, Assistant Professor at the iSchool at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and affiliate at the Department of Computer Science (CS). Jana’s work is at the nexus of social network analysis, natural language processing and machine learning.

2. 3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage: Geometry Acquisition and Processing

This strand will focus on the visualisation of objects such as sculptures, plaster figurines, etc. and is aimed at students of archaeology, (art) history and related disciplines. After refreshing some basic geometric knowledge and an introduction to technical terms like ‘sampling density’, the strand will shift to practical work. The participants will be acquainted with state-of-the-art equipment and software in the 3D modeling field (Breuckmann/AICON).

The workshop will be held by Sven Havemann, founding member of the Institute of Computer Graphics and Knowledge Visualisation at Graz University of Technology. His primary research interests are in interactive 3D modeling and visualisation.

Both workshops will take place in parallel, from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Applicants need to indicate which one they are interested in. An appropriate number of ECTS credits can be obtained.

Afternoon Programme

The afternoons will be reserved for the presentation of Digital Humanities projects and small workshops to acquaint the participants with specific use-cases to give them examples and inspiration to follow their own projects (e.g., introduction to the GeoBrowser, to the Processing development environment, to data visualisation with R). The programme is complemented by two evening keynotes held by experts in the Visual Analytics field, Prof. Dr. Daniel Keim, Chair for Data Analysis and Visualisation at the University of Constance, and Manuel Lima, founder of and often referred to as “the Edward Tufte of the 21st century”.


We are inviting up to 40 international participants (MA and PhD students). Up to 20 students can be registered for each one of the two strands. The first one is designed for those students of the humanities and social sciences who work with text-based data. The second strand is aiming at archaeologists and (art) historians or, more generally, at scholars who deal with objects and object data.

Costs and fees

The registration fee for accepted applicants is 80 € and includes costs for tuition (workshops + lectures) and lunches in the refectory. We provide free accommodation in near-by hostels (mostly dormitory-style) or holiday homes; if you prefer to stay in a hotel, we can assist you with the reservation, but you will have to cover the costs yourself. Fees do not include travel costs, but you can apply for a travel grant if such funds are not available from your institution.

Given the hands-on character of the Summer School, it is essential to bring your own laptop. (Participants of the 3D strand are also asked to bring their own cameras.) The installation of required (free) software will be communicated in a timely manner and supported by us throughout the entire Summer School.


Your application should include three things:

  • a cover letter indicating which strand you’re interested in (“Analysing Words and Networks with ConText” or “3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage”),
  • a short CV (1 page max.),
  • a letter of motivation (2 pages max.), including an explanation as to why you would like to participate, what previous knowledge you have and what your expectations are; please also tell us about your current project if you have one.

Please e-mail your application as one integral PDF file to the coordinator of the Summer School, Frank Fischer ( Deadline for applications is 30 April 2014. You will be notified on your application status until 15 May 2014.

For further information, please don’t hesitate in contacting the coordinator of the Summer School or visit the website (



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