German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2050
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Seminars and Lectures

The GHIL regularly holds seminars and lectures on topics of general interest to British and German historians. Seminars are held Tuesdays at 5.30pm during term time. Seminar papers are normally presented in English; knowledge of the German language is not necessary for participation.


Seminar Series | Summer Term 2015

As the digital humanities continue to boom, historians are discovering the potential of big data, computational techniques and corpus-driven methods for opening up new avenues of research.

The GHIL seminar series in the summer term 2015 will explore the possibilities and limitations of these new approaches at the intersection of historiography and linguistics. Scholars from both disciplines will present their research and ideas. They will discuss not only their methodology, but also its application in empirical case studies, covering a broad range of themes from medieval to contemporary history.

12 May

Joachim Scharloth (Dresden)
Computing Historical Watersheds. A Linguistic Approach

The automated analysis of huge digital text collections as a method of historical research is becoming more and more popular. But along with its rising popularity, its explanatory power is coming under scrutiny. The talk will explore how we can use computational methods for a deeper understanding of cultural change from a linguistic angle. Starting with a short introduction to the basic principles of data-driven methods, the lecture will discuss different linguistic categories which can be used as indicators for cultural change and illustrate the corpus-driven approach using empirical evidence from large German newspaper corpora (1946-2014).

Joachim Scharloth is Professor of Applied Linguistics at TU Dresden. His research focuses on developing linguistic methods for automated digital text analysis. His main publications include 1968. Eine Kommunikationsgeschichte (2011); 1968 in Europe. A History of Protest and Activism, 1956-77 (with Martin Klimke, 2008).

26 May

Helen Baker and Tony McEnery (Lancaster)
The Language Surrounding Poverty in Early Modern England

This talk will examine the textual portrayal of beggars and vagrants by seventeenth-century English writers by means of a corpus-based analysis. The lecture will discuss what language was used to describe beggars and vagrants and what shift, if any, took place in their representation as the seventeenth century progressed. It aims to show what these findings can reveal about early modern English attitudes towards people experiencing poverty.

Tony McEnery is a Distinguished Professor at the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University. He has authored numerous books on corpus linguistics, including (with Andrew Hardie) Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice (2012).

Helen Baker is a trained historian and a Senior Research Associate in the interdisciplinary research project ‘Newspapers, Poverty and Long-term Change‘ at the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science at Lancaster University.

2 June

Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster)
The Settlement of the Poor and the Rise of the Form in Eighteenth-Century England

As computational linguistics shows, the concept of 'settlement' developed in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in direct relation to the administration of the poor laws. This paper will examine the relationship between the law, civil society, and print culture, exploring how the legislation concerning the settlement of the poor, enacted in England since the seventeenth century, gave rise to an administrative system where settlement certificates and forms were increasingly employed.

Naomi Tadmor is Professor of History at Lancaster University. She is the author of Family and Friends in Eighteenth-Century England: Household, Kinship, and Patronage (2001), and The Social Universe of the English Bible: Scripture, Society and Culture in Early Modern England (2010), and co-editor of The Practice and Representation of Reading in England (1996).

23 June

Gregor Rohmann (Frankfurt a.M.)
Conceptualizing ‘Contagion’ before the Black Death. An Approach to Political Language in the Middle Ages

The lecture discusses the methodology and findings of the research project ‘Political Language in the Middle Ages. Semantic Approaches’ at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. It will present the digital tools developed by the project team for the analysis of semantic structures in medieval Latin sources based on the methodology of corpus linguistics. The lecture will focus on the concept of ‘contagion’ as a case study to demonstrate how these tools can help us to understand how semantic change evolved in general, and especially how people conceptualized power, social conflicts, and group relations in times before politics as a social subsystem emerged.

Gregor Rohmann teaches Medieval History at the University of Frankfurt a.M. and was the project manager of the research project mentioned above. His books include Tanzwut. Kosmos, Kirche und Mensch in der Bedeutungsgeschichte eines spätmittelalterlichen Krankheitskonzepts (2013); and Das Ehrenbuch der Fugger. Darstellung – Kommentar – Transkription (2004).

Seminars are held at 5.30 p.m. in the Seminar Room of the German Historical Institute.
Tea is served from 5.00 p.m. in the Common Room, and wine is available after the seminars.

Guided tours of the Library are available before each seminar at 4.30 p.m.

Download the flyer of Digital History  (PDF file)

Previous Seminars

Public Lectures

11 June

Sven Reichardt (Constance)
German Counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s

GHIL in co-operation with the Seminar in Modern German History, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Terms such as ‘Ganzheitlichkeit’ (holism) and ‘Selbstverwirklichung’ (self-realization) were typical expressions of the counterculture of the 1970s and 1980s. The lecture gives some insights into discourses, social communication, and everyday life within the countercultural milieux of the German left.

Sven Reichardt is Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Constance. His publications include Faschistische Kampfbünde: Gewalt und Gemeinschaft im italienischen Squadrismus und in der deutschen SA (2nd edn. 2009); Authentizität und Gemeinschaft: Linksalternatives Leben in den siebziger und frühen achtziger Jahren (2nd edn. 2014). He is currently working on a book on global fascism.

Download flyer (PDF file)

Previous Public Lectures