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Mind, Text, and Mining Seminar

In collaboration with dr. Martijn Schoonvelde (VU University) and dr. Mark Dechesne (Leiden University) I am organizing a frequently recurring seminar on the quantitative analysis of large text corpora.

In various academic fields texts are analysed for indicators of speaker personality, or speaker emotions like disgust, anger, and happiness: concepts which have been shown to drive political behaviour or to represent opinions, attitudes or emotionality in relation to certain topics. Quantitative analysis or ‘mining’ of these psychological constructs in the study of historical, social, and political phenomena is burgeoning.

To learn more about these developments, we have formed a multidisciplinary group of interested and active researchers in the Netherlands by means of a regularly occurring seminar in which best practices in applied work, new methodologies, and substantive new findings are exchanged and discussed. We aim for a group of committed members who intend to participate on a regular basis.


At the moment, we are working on our programme for 2019-2020. If you want to present and discuss your work, or have any suggestions or remarks, please send an e-mail




Roundtable discussion during the third seminar at the NIOD, 2017

publications

Geschiedschrijving Nederlands verzet steeds persoonlijker

Published in Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 2016

Review of: Hilbrink (2015), Knokploegen; Schippers (2015), De Westerweelgroep en de Palestinapioniers

Recommended citation: Van Lange, M. (2016). "Geschiedschrijving Nederlands verzet steeds persoonlijker." Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis. 129:4.

Debating Evil (conference paper)

Published in Proceedings of the Conference on Language Technologies & Digital Humanities 2018, 2018

Download paper here

Recommended citation: van Lange, M. & Futselaar, R. (2018). "Debating Evil: Using Word Embeddings to Analyze Parliamentary Debates on War Criminals in The Netherlands." Proceedings of the Conference on Language Technologies & Digital Humanities 2018

NIOD-blog miniseries: Integrating New Methods in Historical Research

Published in NIOD Blog, 2019

In this NIOD blog miniseries, I briefly discuss my experiences as a fellow at the C2DH in Luxembourg. I write on the impresso newspaper project (part 1), the exploratory work on this project (part 2), and reflect on the application of digital methods in historical research (part 3).

Debating Evil: Using Word Embeddings to Analyze Parliamentary Debates on War Criminals in The Netherlands

Published in Contributions to Contemporary History. Vol. 59, no. 1 (2019), 2019

In this paper a method is evaluated to investigate changes in historical discourse by using large bodies of text and word embedding models. As a case study, discussions in Dutch Parliament about the punishment of war criminals in the period 1945-1975 are investigated. We will demonstrate how word embedding models, trained with Google’s Word2Vec algorithm, can be used to trace historical developments in parliamentary vocabulary through time.

talks

Emotions in Historical Texts

Published:

“Lightning” presentation on methodological issues concerning the diachronic investigation of emotions in historical texts.

Computational Linguistics and Text Mining for Historians

Published:

Guest lecture at Erasmus University Rotterdam with Dr. Ralf Futselaar on integrating quantitative digital research methodologies in historical research. The lecture was part of a Bachelor-course on historical research methodology.

Digital Research Methods for the Humanities

Published:

This lecture on new methodologies for the humanities dealt with text mining as methodological addition to the toolbox of the humanities researcher. The lecture was part of the Digital Humanities minor at the Utrecht University.

Ballistic Rockets through (Discursive) Space

Published:

Together with Dr. Ralf Futselaar I presented a quantitative text analysis of nuclear weapon debates in the Dutch parliament (1975-1990) to the Digital Humanities Group of the Royal Library (KB). We demonstrated how we combined Word Embedding Models based on the Google Word2Vec algorithm and Cosine-Similarity-scores to investigate political speech diachronically.

Text mining in practice. A discussion on user-applied text mining techniques in historical research

Published:

In this panel we looked at the application of text mining techniques in historical research. Our central goal was to discuss practices for validation of techniques and methodologies. We wanted to come up with a proposal for integrating text mining techniques in historical research practice in a meaningful, substantive, and contributive way, and pave the way for the move of text mining into common research practice, beyond the current hype.

What is a just punishment? The punishment of war criminals in the Netherlands, 1945-1975

Published:

The concept of “justice” is at once universal or near-universal through time and societies, but the meanings given to the term are historically fluid. What is considered “just” in one society may be profoundly unjust in another. Together with Ralf Futselaar, I proposed a method to investigate the issue. We used the digitized proceedings of the Dutch parliament (Handelingen der Staten-Generaal). Next, we trained Word Embedding Models (WEMs) with this data using the Google Word2Vec algorithm to gain insight in the discursive spaces of different words over time. By combining WEMs with Cosine Similarity measures, we developed a workflow to use discursive spaces of words to learn something about the concepts they represent and to compare these concepts diachronically.

Dialects of Discord: Using Word Embedding Models to analyse preferred vocabularies in political debate through time

Published:

In the early 1980s, the controversy regarding placement or non‐placement of cruise missiles led to the greatest popular protests in Dutch history and to a long and often bitter political controversy. The NATO “double‐track decision” of 1979 envisioned the placement of nuclear weapons in the Netherlands, to which the Dutch government eventually agreed in 1985. After 1985, due to declining tensions between the Soviet Block and NATO, the new cruise missiles were never stationed in the Netherlands. We wanted to analyse this acrimonious debate using Word Embedding Models (WEMs) and the proceedings of the Dutch lower and upper house of Parliament during the 1970s and 1980s.

Debating Evil: Using Word Embeddings to Analyze Parliamentary Debates on War Criminals in The Netherlands

Published:

(Together with Ralf Futselaar) In this presentation, we proposed a method to investigate changes in historical discourse by using large bodies of text and word embedding models. As a case study, we investigated discussions in Dutch Parliament about the punishment of war criminals in the period 1945-1975. We demonstrated how word embedding models, trained with Google’s Word2Vec algorithm, can be used to trace historical developments in parliamentary vocabulary through time.

Emancipation of Emotions? Questioning the emotionalisation of society with emotion mining and digitised historical corpora

Published:

There appears to be consensus about the development of an ‘emotional culture’ in the Western World during the second half of the twentieth century. Emotional expressions supposedly have become more socially acceptable, and such expressions also became much more common in public discourse. It is a common assumption that an ‘emancipation of emotions’ led to a far-reaching and ongoing ‘emotionalisation’ of Western politics, media, and society. By using generic lexicons of emotional words, we try to find an empirical way to test this ‘shared intuition’ in collections of digitised historical parliamentary debates and newspapers.

teaching

Lecturer Methods of Historical Research

Research Master programme History, Utrecht University, 2017

I taught this course together with Auke Rijpma and Pim Huijnen. The purpose of this course was to familiarize students of the Research MA programme History with computational techniques to analyse structured and unstructured data.

Assistant Lecturer Battlefield Europe

Bachelor programme History, Utrecht University, 2018

In this research seminar (B2) students analyse, compare and contrast World War I and II from both a Western and Eastern European perspective within the wider historical context of Europe and European violence in the first half of the twentieth century.