Quinn Dombrowski's picture

Social Science Matrix seminar sparks conversation on scholarly tools

A screenshot of Berkeley Prosopography Services

Research IT Associate Director Patrick Schmitz and Near Eastern Studies lecturer Laurie Pearce have been co-leading a Fall 2014 seminar on prosopography, sponsored by the Social Science Matrix. Prosopography is a research technique applied to persons or characters whose individual biographies are not known; the technique investigates characteristics of a group of persons or characters within a particular historical or literary context, and relates them to one another.

This seminar has brought together scholars, librarians and staff from Berkeley and beyond, to discuss common issues and challenges in software being developed to support prosopographical research. The outcomes of this workshop will influence the development of Berkeley Prosopography Services, which recently received a Digital Humanities Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As co-organizer Laurie Pearce writes in her recent blog post on the Digital Humanities at Berkeley site, developing a common understanding of different approaches is an essential prerequisite for making meaningful technological progress:

The commitment of all participants to contribute data to group scrutiny and analysis speaks to the increasing recognition that digital humanities research projects do not, and can not, stand in isolation. Understanding each others’ specific concerns and rehearsing  actual and potential resolutions strengthens our individual projects and the collaborations we expect to emerge.