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Tech Breakfast: Conceptual history and computational methods

Time Thursday 3 June, 2021 at 08:00 - 10:00
Place ZOOM

Scholars of conceptual history often study key concepts – words that are inescapable in the societal discussions yet ambiguous and imbued with contested meanings – such as “democracy”, “freedom” and “welfare”. The struggle to redefine them, conceptual historians argue, is a way to redefine social reality, legitimize goals, and point out the necessity of certain actions. Conceptual history has traditionally been conducted by using close reading methods and carefully studying what is perceived as important historical text sources. However, the rise of computational methods has added new tools to conceptual historians to gather, analyze, and visualize the architecture of concepts – its connections, semantic field, and diachronic change.

At this breakfast we discuss different aspects of conceptual history and computational methods. You find the titles of three reading texts below. You are not required to have read the texts to participate in the discussions.



Peter de Bolla, Ewan Jones, Paul Nulty, Gabriel Recchia, and John Regan, ”The Idea of Liberty, 1600–1800: A Distributional Concept Analysis”, Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 81, no. 3, 2020.

Michael Gavin, Collin Jen nings, Laur en Kersey, and Brad Pasanek, “Spaces of Meaning: Conceptual History, Vector Semantics, and Close Reading”, in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019 eds. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019)

Pasi Ihalainen and Aleksi Sahala, ”Evolving Conceptualisations of Internationalism in the UK Parliament: Collocation Analyses from the League to Brexit”, in Digital Histories: Emergent Approaches within the New Digital History (Helsiniki: Helsinki University Press, 2020)

onic change. This breakfast is dedicated to critically discuss a few texts that employ these methods to study concepts. 


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Organizer: Humlab
Event type: Group meeting
Fredrik Norén
Read about Fredrik Norén
Johan Jarlbrink
Read about Johan Jarlbrink