A digital future for the Humanities

23 Nov 2010 17:06:17.507
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Colourful 3D reconstructions of ancient monuments, virtual galleries and a multi-screen ‘intelligent’ classrooms will transform teaching and research in the Humanities, thanks to a new Digital Centre at The University of Nottingham.

The Centre will give students and staff instant access to a wide variety of digitised images, multimedia and 3D models of ancient artefacts and will make the use of traditional slides and 2D screen presentations like ‘Powerpoint’ a thing of the past.

Work in the Departments of Art History, Classics, and Archaeology, as well as Music, Philosophy and Theology, has in the past relied on lantern slides and printed versions of thousands of images, objects and texts.
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Now the new Centre will make available a wide variety of the latest visualisation technologies and equipment, setting new standards for the study and teaching of the Humanities in the digital age. And it will be truly cross-disciplinary with colleagues in the Faculties of Engineering and Biomedical Sciences also making use of the equipment and exchanging expertise with Arts and Humanities.

The new technology will be installed in several locations in the current Humanities premises but the Centre will eventually have its own bespoke space in the new Humanities building, currently under construction on University Park and due to open in September 2011.

Among the new resources available to staff and students will be an equipment pool including photo and video kit, design and editing software and a state-of-the-art 3D scanner. New digitisation equipment will be used to create a vast digital archive of thousands of slides and photographs, and objects. Art History alone has more than 80,000 slides in its image library.

Dr Katharina Lorenz from the Department of Classics said: “Digital technologies are dramatically changing the appearance and delivery of our teaching and research. The Humanities are ideal disciplines to engage with these new visualisation methods because most of the sources we deal with are highly fragmented — to bring them to life, sophisticated technologies and methodological rigour are required.”

Art History’s Dr Mark Rawlinson added: “New digital technologies are capable of producing high-quality scans of individual artworks which help preserve originals whilst simultaneously offering access to students, researchers and members of the public from anywhere in the world. 3D modelling also enables the recreation of art exhibitions from the past, creating a new kind of visual archive and offering the opportunity to take virtual tours of historical art shows.”

Dr Will Bowden from Archaeology said: “The 3D modelling of objects will have a direct benefit for our research projects and will also stimulate new developments in teaching, for example allowing students to undertake detailed examination of objects that would be otherwise unavailable to them, or allowing multiple students to simultaneously examine and discuss a single object.”

In collaboration with the University’s Centre for Advanced Study and the Digital Humanities Network, the Centre will also provide a meeting hub to exchange ideas and develop projects in the area of Digital Humanities. Further details and enquiry form can be found on the Centre’s website at www.nottingham.ac.uk/digitalhumanities

Twitter account: NottinghamDigi

Photographs of the launch of the Digital Humanities Centre can be found on Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/54976628@N02/ 

Story credits

More information is available from Katharina Lorenz in the Classics Department on +44 (0)115 846 8231, katharina.lorenz@nottingham.ac.uk

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