Announcing the 2024–25 Collaborative Research Grantees and Projects

The Center for Digital Humanities is thrilled to announce the three project proposals awarded 2024–25 Collaborative Research Grants.

This year’s projects are “Princeton Open HTR Initiative: Creating Infrastructure for Modeling Historical Texts” (Marina Rustow, Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History, Director of the Geniza Lab; Helmut Reimitz, Shelby Cullom Davis ’30 Professor of European History, Professor of History; Christine Roughan, Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Center for Digital Humanities and Manuscript, Rare Book and Archive Studies), “Marxism’s Marx” (Edward Baring, Associate Professor of History and Human Values), and “Music Theory in the Plural” (Anna Yu Wang, Assistant Professor of Music; Jürgen Hackl, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering).

Grantees will work with a team of CDH Research Software Engineers and Project Managers to develop methods and software to aid their research. “We are excited by the focus on multilingual research questions, as well as the engagement with AI approaches,” says Jeri Wieringa (Assistant Director, CDH). “These six-month partnerships enable us to contribute to a wide variety of faculty projects while also developing more generalized methods in the areas of text reuse and large language models (LLMs).” This year’s application process prioritized projects exploring opportunities and/or limits of AI for humanities research.

headshots of six people

Above (clockwise from top left): Marina Rustow; Helmut Reimitz; Christine Roughan; Edward Baring; Jürgen Hackl; and Anna Yu Wang

Princeton Open HTR Initiative: Creating Infrastructure for Modeling Historical Texts

In their proposal, Marina Rustow (Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History, Director of the Geniza Lab), Helmut Reimitz (Shelby Cullom Davis ’30 Professor of European History, Professor of History), and Christine Roughan (Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Center for Digital Humanities and Manuscript, Rare Book and Archive Studies) wrote:

The Princeton Open HTR Initiative is a research infrastructure project to pilot a Princeton-specific instance of the eScriptorium handwritten text recognition (HTR) software. While the digitization efforts of recent decades have revolutionized access to historical texts in libraries, archives, and cultural heritage institutions, HTR is making these digitized materials machine-readable, opening them up to text search and computational analysis at scale. An increasing number of humanities scholars – including at Princeton – are eager to integrate HTR into their research workflows. However, barriers to entry can be significant, particularly in technical expertise and cost.

Starting this summer, the CDH team will focus on the technical design of a pilot instance of the open-source eScriptorium software configured to work with the Princeton high-performance computing environment. The goal is to undertake the initial research and development to determine if a central resource for handwritten text recognition is possible.

Marxism’s Marx

In his proposal, Edward Baring (Associate Professor of History and Human Values) wrote:

The global success of Marxism is one of the most important developments in modern intellectual history. By the mid-twentieth century, Marxist ideas had come to inform thinkers and activists on every inhabited continent, with enormous consequences for local and global politics. However, the international diffusion of Marx’s texts and the appeal of his ideas around the world were by no means preordained, for Marx had focused his analytical attention on the economic histories and conditions of Western Europe. This project aims to build a resource that will help scholars study this development by allowing them to understand how Marxists globally drew from Marx’s corpus of writings.

Beginning in the Fall of 2024, the CDH team will focus on developing methods for identifying quotations from Marx within a small subset of Marxist literature. The goal is to lay the methodological groundwork for the larger project of identifying the uses of Marx within a multilingual corpus of Marxist literature.

Music Theory in the Plural

In their proposal, Anna Yu Wang (Assistant Professor of Music) and Jürgen Hackl (Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering) wrote:

Despite the enormous diversity of musical phenomena that exist across historical and cultural spaces, the majority of music-theoretical and scientific approaches in music studies have focused on interpretations of Western canonical source materials, neglecting a vast dataset of source documents from underrepresented languages and communities (Agawu 2003; Stover, Tilley, and Yu Wang 2020). To date, most global discourse on music theory remains untranslated, which limits the possibility of building equitable relationships among global music communities and privileges intellectual traditions occurring in European languages, particularly English.

In Spring 2025, the CDH team will focus on assessing the use of multilingual LLMs for tracking concepts between texts, based on a controlled vocabulary developed by the project PIs. The goal is to assess and develop the capacity to link concepts in music-theoretical texts across languages as part of a larger project to expand the “canon” of music theory.

We look forward to sharing more about each project as they begin in the coming months!

For more information about Collaborative Research Grants, past projects and grantees, and the application process, please visit https://cdh.princeton.edu/engage/grants/cdh-research-grants/.

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