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Digital Tools Broaden Study of Humanities

As more texts are being digitized and become available online, scholars are finding exciting new ways to navigate the plethora of information now stored in databases. In the humanities, an international team headed up by Professor Robert Morrissey, the Benjamin Franklin Professor of French Literature in the Department of Romance Language and Literature, is making exciting strides with a database containing an enormous collection of digitized texts in multiple languages.

With 350 subscribing institutions, the collaborative project begun by the American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (ARTFL) has grown into a hub of innovation and is now a key player in the burgeoning field of the digital humanities.

ARTFL was founded in 1981 to create a database of French texts. The collaboration’s flagship project, a digitized version of philosopher Denis Diderot’s massive Encyclopédie, has given scholars new insights into a text once seen as impenetrable.

From the University News Office:

New technology “allows you to investigate certain hypotheses in ways you would never have been able to do,” says Morrissey, the Benjamin Franklin Professor of French Literature. “It allows you to adduce new evidence with greater force.”

Yet Morrissey believes the new methods are only strengthening scholars’ core intellectual ambitions. “Humanists have always asked big questions,” he argues.

To learn more about ARTFL and the digital project please click here to read the article from the University News Office, and to access the ARTFL Project directly please click here.

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