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Goergen Institute for Data Science Seminar Series: Gregory Heyworth

March 15, 2016
Goergen 109

Goergen Institute for Data Science Seminar Series

Gregory Heyworth, University of Mississippi

How to Read an Invisible Classic


The humanities have long been a preserve for reflection upon the arts at arm’s length. In a world in which cultural heritage – manuscripts, art, music – is under unprecedented threat from armed conflict and climate change, in which the objects of humanistic study are disappearing before they can be seen or read, do humanists not have an existential stake in cultural preservation and recovery?

In answering ‘yes’ to this question, this talk outlines the objectives, technologies, and curriculum of a new discipline in the humanities that I call textual science. Using a combination of traditional humanistic skills with imaging science, material and computer science, textual science is changing the canon of literature, history, music, art, mathematics and philosophy. Examples of the new canon will include images of a recently recovered concerto by Telemann, newly legible portions of the oldest books of English and Welsh, the unseen details of the 1491 Martellus Map, and a previously unknown work by the Greek comic dramatist Menander. 

BIO: After taking a BA in English from Cambridge and a Ph.D. from Princeton in Comparative Literature, Gregory Heyworth began his career at the University of Mississippi as a medievalist with a specialty in textual studies and classical influence. His first book, Desiring Bodies: Ovidian Romance and the Cult of Form (Notre Dame, 2009), won the 2010 Choice Oustanding Academic Title award. His interest in textual science and digital humanities began with his edition of the badly damaged Old French poem Les Eschez d’Amours (Brill, 2013) which he recovered using a transportable multispectral imaging system he developed with a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. In 2010, Heyworth founded and now directs the Lazarus Project, a non-profit initiative to recover damaged cultural heritage objects using various imaging technologies. Since its inception, the Lazarus Project has digitally restored scores of damaged works and objects in libraries and collections around the world, including the Vercelli Book and the Martellus Map; it has supported the research of numerous scholars by offering its technology and expertise, and has launched major multispectral digitization projects in Chartres, Tblisi, and Vercelli. Behind the Lazarus Project is a curriculum in textual science that Heyworth developed to train students in a combination of the history of the book, codicology, and spectral imaging, imaging science, and digital display. He is currently working on an edition of the oldest translation of the Gospels into Latin, a book entitled Textual Science and the Future of the Past with Roger Easton, and a promising neural net approach to manuscript OCR. 

WHERE: Goergen 109 (River Campus)

WHEN: 12:30 PM

HOST: Rosemary Kegl

If you were unable to attend in-person, view the talk here:

Category: Talks