• Automatically analysing large texts in a GIS environment: The Registrar General’s reports and cholera in the nineteenth century

      Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; Baron, Alistair; Gregory, Ian; Hardie, Andrew; Rayson, Paul; Digital Humanities Research Centre; University of Chester (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2014-11-14)
      The aim of this article is to present new research showcasing how Geographic Information Systems in combination with Natural Language Processing and Corpus Linguistics methods can offer innovative venues of research to analyze large textual collections in the Humanities, particularly in historical research. Using as examples parts of the collection of the Registrar General’s Reports that contain more than 200,000 pages of descriptions, census data and vital statistics for the UK, we introduce newly developed automated textual tools and well known spatial analyses used in combination to investigate a case study of the references made to cholera and other diseases in these historical sources, and their relationship to place-names during Victorian times. The integration of such techniques has allowed us to explore, in an automatic way, this historical source containing millions of words, to examine the geographies depicted in it, and to identify textual and geographic patterns in the corpus.
    • Crossing Boundaries: Using GIS in Literary Studies, History and Beyond

      Gregory, Ian; Baron, Alistair; Cooper, David; Hardie, Andrew; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; Rayson, Paul; Lancaster University; Lancaster University; MMU; Lancaster University; University of Chester; Lancaster University (Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, 2014-09-05)
      Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have become widely accepted in historical research and there are increasing calls for them to be used more widely in humanities disciplines. The difficulty is, however, that GIS comes from a quantitative, social science paradigm that is frequently not well suited to the kinds of sources that are widely used in the humanities. The challenge for GIS, if it is to become a widely used tool within the humanities, is thus two-fold. First, approaches need to be developed that allow humanities sources to be exploited within a data model that is usable by GIS. Second, and more importantly, researchers need to demonstrate that by adopting GIS they can make significant new and substantive contributions to knowledge across humanities disciplines. This paper explores both of these questions focussing primarily on examples from literary studies, in the form of representations of the English Lake District and history, looking at nineteenth century public health reports.
    • Geoparsing, GIS and textual analysis: current developments in spatial humanities research

      Gregory, Ian; Donaldson, Christopher; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; Rayson, Paul; Lancaster University; University of Chester (Edinburgh University Press, 2015-03-01)
      The spatial humanities constitute a rapidly developing research field that has the potential to create a step-change in the ways in which the humanities deal with geography and geographical information. As yet, however, research in the spatial humanities is only just beginning to deliver the applied contributions to knowledge that will prove its significance. Demonstrating the potential of innovations in technical fields is, almost always, a lengthy process, as it takes time to create the required datasets and to design and implement appropriate techniques for engaging with the information those datasets contain. Beyond this, there is the need to define appropriate research questions and to set parameters for interpreting findings, both of which can involve prolonged discussion and debate. The spatial humanities are still in early phases of this process. Accordingly, the purpose of this special issue is to showcase a set of exemplary studies and research projects that not only demonstrate the field’s potential to contribute to knowledge across a range of humanities disciplines, but also to suggest pathways for future research. Our ambition is both to demonstrate how the application of exploratory techniques in the spatial humanities offers new insights about the geographies embedded in a diverse range of texts (including letters, works of literature, and official reports) and, at the same time, to encourage other scholars to integrate these techniques in their research.
    • Spatial Humanities: Present and Future. Special Issue.

      Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; Gregory, Ian; Donaldson, Christopher; Rayson, Paul; University of Chester; Lancaster University (Edinburgh University Press, 2015-03)
      The spatial humanities constitute a rapidly developing research field that has the potential to create a step-change in the ways in which the humanities deal with geography and geographical information. As yet, however, research in the spatial humanities is only just beginning to deliver the applied contributions to knowledge that will prove its significance. Demonstrating the potential of innovations in technical fields is, almost always, a lengthy process, as it takes time to create the required datasets and to design and implement appropriate techniques for engaging with the information those datasets contain. Beyond this, there is the need to define appropriate research questions and to set parameters for interpreting findings, both of which can involve prolonged discussion and debate. The spatial humanities are still in early phases of this process. Accordingly, the purpose of this special issue is to showcase a set of exemplary studies and research projects that not only demonstrate the field's potential to contribute to knowledge across a range of humanities disciplines, but also to suggest pathways for future research.