Postdoctoral Fellowship in Digital Cultural Heritage and the Text Encoding Initiative

Vanderbilt University invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in TEI/MEI as part of the Digital Cultural Heritage Research Cluster situated within the Vanderbilt University Center for Digital Humanities.

Applicants are invited from any relevant discipline including the humanities, library science, museum studies, or data science. We are looking for a talented scholar who will train and foster the growing community of students and faculty at Vanderbilt interested in the application of XML encoding to cultural heritage preservation and research. The successful applicant will be an effective teacher experienced in introducing beginners to the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and also able to collaborate with scholars in the advanced application of the TEI in research. The ideal applicant will also be familiar with the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) or willing to learn and teach its guidelines as part of the fellowship.

This fellow will join a new research cluster in Digital Cultural Heritage at Vanderbilt. Inspired by UNESCO’s mission to protect cultural heritage in danger of destruction, this cluster unites expertise across multiple disciplines (French, History, Computer Science, Religious Studies, Classics, Musicology, History of Art, Anthropology) and maintains interests in a variety of cultural expressions (archeological sites, artifacts and monuments, texts, music). Within and beyond the cluster, Vanderbilt is home to a number of active projects employing TEI XML. Several projects use a jointly developed TEI customization for historical geography and architecture including Syriaca.orgArchitectura Sinica, and LOGAR: Linked Open Gazetteer of the Andean Region. Other projects include a focus on text corpora such as The Digital Syriac CorpusDigital Corpus Baudelaire, and Hannah Arendt: Complete Works. In 2014, Vanderbilt hosted the NEH funded XQuery Summer Institute which focused on the use of the TEI extensively.

The term of appointment is one year, beginning in August 2018, with the possibility of renewal for a second year, pending approval of funding and satisfactory performance. The salary is $50,000 a year, plus benefits and the possibility of funding for conference-related travel and expenses. The fellow will join a cohort of other postdoctoral fellows hosted at the Vanderbilt University Center for Digital Humanities and have access to the professional development support of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. We offer regular training in XQuery.

During the period of the fellowship, the fellow is expected to be in residence. The fellow’s responsibilities include collaborating with faculty on research projects with opportunities for joint publications. The fellow will work with the director of the research cluster to define both formal and informal teaching duties to train undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in the use of TEI and MEI XML. The fellow will also have the opportunity to conduct their own research and will be expected to participate in the seminars and academic community of the research cluster and the Center for Digital Humanities.

1. A PhD in a field relevant to the broad aims of the research cluster.
2. Experience with the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative.

1. Familiarity with or willingness to learn the guidelines of the Music Encoding Initiative
2. Familiarity with XSLT, XQuery, TEI schemas, TEI tools such as Roma and OxGarage, or other skill sets related to working with data in XML.
3. Broad experience in the digital humanities.

How to Apply
A complete application will include the following materials in digital format:
1. A cover letter indicating applicant’s qualifications;
2. A current curriculum vitae;
3. A scholarly publication, dissertation chapter, or digital project representing the applicant’s scholarly work related to XML encoding;
4. Letters of recommendation sent directly by two references who can speak to the themes of the postdoctoral fellowship.

Review of applications will begin immediately. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by June 31, 2018.

Applications, letters, and inquiries should be sent to Lynn Ramey, Professor of French, Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and protected veterans are encouraged to apply.

Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities? (CFP)


Academy Colloquium: Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities? Analytics, Tools, Corpora

International Conference
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Amsterdam (NLD), 13-15 December 2018

Funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences & the Netherlands eScience Center
Hosted by the “Bridging the Gap” project, Utrecht University (NLD), and the Digital Islamic Humanities Project, Brown University (RI, USA)

“Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities? Analytics, Tools, Corpora” is a three-day international conference dedicated to the budding field of Islamicate Digital Humanities (IDH). In recent years, the number of projects, initiatives and research programs in this field has greatly increased. Recognition of these efforts has already resulted in the formulation of guidelines for the evaluation of digital scholarship by the Middle East Studies Association, as well as a recent proposal for a set of principles to guide scholarly corpus building (IJMES 50, “Roundtable”). These developments signal a field gradually coming of age. Yet, most scholars would also agree that much work remains to be done before a plug-and-play, one-click survey of the vast Islamicate textual heritage becomes even remotely realistic. This conference seeks to take stock and showcase efforts currently underway in global IDH text-mining and identify ways of promoting collaboration and synergy.



The building of scholarly corpora is a crucial factor in the further development of IDH. How to make sure that these corpora are not only useful for the researchers who created them, but also for others who wish to benefit from them in the future? How to address the issue of past and present selection biases in the building of corpora? How truly Islamicate are existing efforts in linguistic terms? How should we take into account issues of copyright and citability in the building of pre-modern and modern corpora? Which corpora have been built in the area of Islamicate DH? Which ones are currently under construction? Which ones should (or should not) be built in the future?


From stemming to text-reuse and topic modelling, a range of analytical tools have been developed in recent years (or are being developed) to enable digital analysis of various corpora. This section will feature hands-on presentations that introduce and critically discuss a number of these tools. Which tools deliver the best results? Which are useful for the broader scholarly community? How can we promote the interoperability and sustainability of these tools? How can we create tools that use the peculiarities of the Islamicate textual heritage?


While many successful applications of IDH replicate existing and well-proven qualitative research methods, how does IDH open up possibilities for new questions and methods? Thissection invites papers especially in the emergent area of Cultural Analytics, that is, “the analysis of massive cultural datasets and flows using computational and visualization techniques”. How can we combine the possibilities of computational analysis of quantitative data (distant reading) with qualitative research methods (close reading)? What is good practice in Islamicate, digitally driven Cultural Analytics? What are convincing (and perhaps not so convincing) examples of the research done so far in IDH?

The conference organizers explicitly welcome papers about Islamicate languages other than Arabic, with the intention of discussing the contours of a globally conceived Islamicate DH.

Please send, by the deadline of May 31, your title and paper proposal (< 500 words) to

A number of travel grants are available for speakers. Please indicate when submitting your proposal whether you think you may need financial assistance in order to attend the conference, and whether you’d be able to come with no or partial funding.

The Mamluk Prosopography Project


La réception des ambassadeurs vénitiens à Damas (Anonymous artist, 1511, Musée du Louvre)

Ghent University (Belgium) is starting up a digital humanities project for the development of a data-infrastructure for the study of late medieval  Syro-Egyptian elites, their networks, and their social and cultural practices, including their textual production and consumption (13th-15th century).

This Mamluk Prosopography Project (MPP), which will build on the achievements of preceding prosopographical projects, will be developed as a new application with web-based multiple user-, input- and analysis functionalities. MPP’s development is scheduled to be achieved between 2016 and 2020, and will be funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (Medium-Size Research Infrastructure), and by the European Research Council.

We are currently starting up the required public tender procedures to inform potential candidates in the private sector of this opportunity. The contract for this development project will be awarded via a European negotiated e-tender procedure with publication of a contract notice. The selection guideline for application was published earlier this week, and may be accessed via, ‘search for publication’, ‘dossier number’: 16OMB003.

Digitizing Early Arabic Printed Books: A Workshop


The Digital Islamic Humanities Project, a signature initiative of Middle East Studies at Brown University, is pleased to announce its annual scholarly gathering, a workshop on the topic of print culture in the early modern and modern Middle East. The event is organized in partnership with Gale Publishers, which will present its new digital text archive entitled “Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library”. The archive is based on A. G. Ellis’s catalog of the British Library’s collection of early printed materials from the Arabic-speaking world, and contains approximately 2.5 million pages from historic books on diverse genres, including literature, law, mathematics, medicine, geography, and other topics.

The workshop will include a featured lecture entitled “Towards a New Book History of the Modern Middle East” by Dr. Kathryn Schwartz, Postdoctoral Fellow for the Digital Library of the Eastern Mediterranean at Harvard University.

Date: Friday, October 21 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute

Further information about the event program will be posted by September 1. Please contact the event organizer, Professor Elias Muhanna, with any questions.

New Publication on Islamic Digital Humanities

DH-finalcoverWe are pleased to announce the publication of a new edited volume from De Gruyter entitled The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East StudiesMany of the articles in this volume were given as papers at the 2013 conference of the same name, organized by Middle East Studies at Brown University.

Table of Contents
  • Elias Muhanna, Islamic and Middle East Studies and the Digital Turn
  • Travis Zadeh, Uncertainty and the Archive
  • Dagmar Riedel, Of Making Many Copies There is No End: The Digitization of Manuscripts and Printed Books in Arabic Script
  • Chip Rossetti, Al-Kindi on the Kindle: The Library of Arabic Literature and the Challenges of Publishing Bilingual Arabic-English Books
  • Nadia Yaqub, Working with Grassroots Digital Humanities Projects: The Case of the Tall al-Zaʿtar Facebook Groups
  • Maxim Romanov, Toward Abstract Models for Islamic History
  • Alex Brey, Quantifying the Quran
  • Till Grallert, Mapping Ottoman Damascus Through News Reports: A Practical Approach
  • José Haro Peralta and Peter Verkinderen, “Find for Me!”: Building a Context-Based Search Tool Using Python
  • Joel Blecher, Pedagogy and the Digital Humanities: Undergraduate Exploration into the Transmitters of Early Islamic Law
  • Dwight F. Reynolds, From Basmati Rice to the Bani Hilal: Digital Archives and Public Humanities

Symposium Webcast: Distant Reading & the Islamic Archive (October 2015)

On October 16, 2015, the Digital Islamic Humanities Program at Brown University held its third annual scholarly gathering, a symposium on the subject “Distant Reading & the Islamic Archive.”

Paper abstracts are available here, and some photos of the event are posted below. The symposium was recorded in its entirety and may be accessed at the links following the photo gallery.

Photographs (by Rythum Vinoben; see his website for more photos)



Session 1:

  • Elias Muhanna (Brown University), Introduction and welcoming remarks
  • David Vishanoff (University of Oklahoma): A Customizable Exaptive “Xap” for Charting Currents of Islamic Discourse across Multiple Bibliographic and Full Text Datasets
  • Peter Verkinderen (Universität Hamburg): Which Muḥammad? Computer-Based Tools for the Identification of Moving Elites in the Early Islamic Empire

Session 2

  • Alexander Magidow (Univ. of Rhode Island) & Yonatan Belinkov (MIT), “Digital Philology and the History of Written Arabic”
  • Elias Muhanna (Brown University), “Modeling Mannerism in Classical Arabic Poetry”

Session 3 

  • Karen Pinto (Boise State University), “MIME and Other Digital Experimentations with Medieval Islamic Maps”
  • Seyed Mohammad Bagher Sajadi (Qazvin Islamic Azad University) and Mohammad Sadegh Rasooli (Columbia University): Automatic Proper Names Extraction from Old Islamic Literature
  • Maxim Romanov, (Universität Leipzig), “al-Ḏahabī’s Monster: Dissecting a 50-Volume Arabic Chronicle-cum-Biographical Collection From the 14th Century CE”

Session 4

  • Nir Shafir (UCLA), “Distant Reading the Material and Bibliographic Record of the Early Modern Islamic Archive”
  • Eric van Lit (Yale Univ.), “A Digital Approach for Production and Transmission of Knowledge in Islamic Intellectual History”
  • Taimoor Shahid (Univ. of Chicago), “Mobile Ethics: Travel and Cosmopolitanism in the Islamic Archive”