Once per semester, the Center for Digital Humanities invites proposals from members of the Princeton faculty, Princeton post-doctoral fellows, and Princeton graduate students for Seed Grants to support individual or collaborative research projects.
When the Princeton Prosody Archive received its original data from the HathiTrust Digital Library, this data included over three hundred entries attributed to Samuel Johnson. Such a high volume of entries (not to mention the peculiar breadth and range of topics covered in Johnson’s writing), posed a peculiar problem: How to organize these texts in a manner that acknowledges Johnson’s contribution to prosody, but which is also navigable, representative, and curated?
The last time I wrote, I had just begun to learn how to program in Python, creating a simple programmed version of Raymond Queneau’s Cent mille milliards de poèmes for my Annex 3. This program, along with my Annexes 2 (S+7) and 4 (Queneau’s Un conte à votre façon) would be the most important part of my project, as the Oulipo had made its own digital versions of these texts at several key moments in its history. However, the Cent mille milliards de poèmes program was relatively simple compared to the programming skills I needed for the other projects, so I spent the month of January going through a more difficult introduction to Python.
Digital humanities is a remarkable method of identifying historical connections hidden in traditional, analogue historical analysis. As I wrote in November 2015, “Historians soon learn that not all that is present is easily visible.” Even relatively small networks, such as the Dunkirk urban intelligence network, profit immensely from digital humanities tools such as Cytoscape, Mindnode, and Palladio.
The first of the digital annexes that I’m working on is the canonical Cent mille milliards de poèmes (A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems) by Oulipo co-founder, Raymond Queneau. The text is inspired by combinatorics in its basic functioning, but it was almost immediately digitized by Oulipo as well, using some of the first computers.