Week 9: Impacts 1 – Digital Scholarship

Lecture : How does scholarship in DH expand what we consider as evidence and how does we use evidence in new ways? What are the methodologies (quantitative and qualitative) and workflows which result?

Nevalainen, Terttu. 2015. Social networks and language change in Tudor and Stuart London – only connect? English Language and Linguistics 19(02). 269–292. doi:10.1017/S136067431500009X.  [pdf]


Actvity 1: 

Nevelainen uses the writing of Samuel Pepys as a data source and discusses the different locations of his activities. Visit the online version of Pepys diary, look at the entries for ten days and make a list of the different places Pepys mentions. Compare your results with others in the class – how much geographic variety was there in Pepys’ life? (You might like to look again at the Map of Early Modern London and try to find some of the locations. You also might like to compare the Pepys Diary site with MoEML in terms of ease of navigation.)

Activity 2:
One of the methods used by Nevelainen is network analysis. Go to Immersion and log in using one of your email accounts – your information is safer at this site than it is at many other places, but you may want to use your own computer for this rather than a shared screen. Generate a visualisation of your networks and think about the following questions (be ready to discuss your answers with the class):
a) How many school friends appear in the network? Do they form a coherent sub-network?
b) Which sub-networks are only linked through you, and which ones are linked by multiple members? Can you think of why these differences occur?
c) Are any of your sub-networks tied to specific locations or activities? Again, can you think of reasons why this might be the case (or why it is not the case)?

General discussion:

  1. How much do you think the network reflects aspects of your life?
  2. Sociolinguists (such as Nevelainen) see linguistic practices as characterising networks. Can you think of ways in which you use language in different ways with your different sub-networks?
  3. More generally, can you think of different social activities or behaviours which are associated with different sub-networks?

Activity 3:
Nevelainen mentions constructing a database of information about the people involved in the networks she is studying. Away from a computer, a database is a way of storing structured information, for example a table. Try to design a table which would store information from your email network. What information would you store and how would you organise it? And does it even make sense to try to do this if you don’t know how the information will be used?


This activity is intended to serve a double purpose. One aspect of digital scholarship which will be discussed in the lecture this week is the idea of a workflow – an optimal sequencing of different processes which can be used each time we approach the same (or similar) tasks. Your task is to create post or a page which includes two images and some text. Make a note of the actions you perform as you carry out this task – not down to the last keystroke, but at the level of e.g. open page editor, go to media library, load image from phone. When you are done, compare your record with that of another class member:

  1. Did you both do tasks in the same order or were your orders different?
  2. Did you repeat sequences of tasks?
  3. Can you see ways to carry out the task more efficiently?
  4. Together, can you develop an optimal workflow?

Image credit: Handwriting by Samuel Pepys – Google Books, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5941566