How the Digital Humanities Help Us Think About the Past to Invent the Future

The digital technologies of our times have revolutionised not just the way we live and work in the present, they also change our understanding of the past. Today’s archaeologists are equipped with gene sequencers and 3D laser scanners, and photorealistic computer simulations allow us to take a walk through ancient cities. As cutting-edge technology and computer science seeps into our study of past cultures, the birth of a new interdisciplinary field – the digital humanities – unlocks new knowledge about the early days of our civilisation. Classical texts have been the subject of study for centuries, but digitalised libraries combined with new computer-aided methods and algorithms now make it possible to discover previously unknown connections and themes. By using his expertise in both computer science and classical philology for building digital libraries and employing big-data analysis to explore large bodies of classical texts, Gregory Crane has made himself a pioneer in the relatively young field of the digital humanities. As a developer of the Perseus Digital Library, a massive endeavour to digitally collect and analyse classical texts on an open access platform, he started the reinvention of literary studies as early as 1985. To honour his groundbreaking work, he was given an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship in 2012. At Falling Walls, Gregory demonstrates how the digital classics can help us gain new insights into ancient worldviews and define the future of the humanities.

Gregory Crane is the Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities at Universität Leipzig and a wanderer between the worlds of literature and digital technology. His research combines classical philology and computer science in an innovative approach, using cutting-edge analysis tools to study human development in ancient texts. By applying this method for advancing our deeper understanding of the past he is also offering new perspectives for the humanities in the internet age.

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