dataAche

Earlier this month, I made the 6-hour rail journey to Plymouth to participate in the Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts conference, dataAche. I was there to participate in a panel organised by Gabriel Egan, around the theme of “the author’s unseeing eye”. Continue reading dataAche

Choosing the vicar’s wedding dress

Last month, the Church of England’s governing body, General Synod, met in York.* Alongside conversion therapy and rites of passage for transgender people, the agenda also included a change to rules on what clergy wear during services, including special occasions like weddings and funerals

At present, all C of E clergy are legally required to wear traditional robes, a mode of dress little changed since the question of suitable clothing was debated in the mid-sixteenth century. The new ruling empowers brides, grooms and mourners to make a decision on the vicar’s dress.** The change is not immediate: as with other national laws, the Queen has to give her royal assent. Continue reading Choosing the vicar’s wedding dress

Religion, evil and forgiveness: some thoughts off air

Sunflower. Photograph (c) Marcin Szala, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Sunflower. Photograph (c) Marcin Szala, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Twice in as many weeks, I’ve provided an expert voice to aid discussion on local radio. The first invitation was to talk about Martin Luther and “what he’d ever done for us”. The most recent, to discuss religious notions of evil and forgiveness following the death of an unrepentant serial killer. Continue reading Religion, evil and forgiveness: some thoughts off air

Watching Luther: a prequel to three public talks

On Halloween, 1517, nearly 500 years ago, Luther posted up his debate text on the doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Was Luther’s text inflammatory? Composed in Latin, its direct capacity to inflame was limited to his literate peer group. Continue reading Watching Luther: a prequel to three public talks

Tools for EEBO-TCP & the challenge of reproducibility

After a gap in posts, this is a somewhat epic effort, following up on a “Language and Society” seminar with University of Sheffield History students this morning. Alongside an overarching interest in “reproducibility”, it contains:

  1. A description and tips for EEBO-TCP tools including the main Continue reading Tools for EEBO-TCP & the challenge of reproducibility

Lost books and Archbishop Parker



“Keeping printers busy and rich was a far more effective assurance of loyalty than any regime of censorship. [. . .] To understand the economy of print is not to turn one’s back on the world of ideas. It is a necessary prerequisite to understanding that world.” 1

As the past tense of that first sentence suggests, in this post I’m moving away from contemporary politics and back into the world of book history. Yet reading these words from the close of Pettegree’s “Legion of the Lost”, I found myself translating his remarks to the present. Continue reading Lost books and Archbishop Parker

Sheffield’s Brexit, Hard Evidence and Anecdotes

Vote remain: placard on window sill

For weeks I’ve been feeling an inarticulate kind of anger. No one cared to canvas in the former heartlands.

The current post is prompted specifically by the “anecdotal evidence” in Charles Pattie’s contribution to The Conversation. In the footnotes to what follows, you will find some additional information Sheffield’s demographic extremes. The main post provides direct anecdotal evidence from someone who works for the University of Sheffield (like Pattie), but lives on the city’s north eastern fringes.

Continue reading Sheffield’s Brexit, Hard Evidence and Anecdotes

One year on

22 April 2015: It was a bright sunny morning and the taxi driver was keen to impart his tricks for the best route into town. (Look, no traffic lights!) It was also the day I was offered the job on Linguistic DNA.

Before Linguistic DNA, I looked to EEBO-TCP to provide context for shifts in the language of bible translation. It was quantifiable language data, enabling me to work out a loose comparison between the first century of English print (-1569) and the fifty years that followed (-1619) and so sample language change between Continue reading One year on