What can modern computational techniques tell us about science, philosophy, and culture in the Italian Renaissance? Just ask Crystal Hall, a scholar of Galileo Galilei and, as of this fall, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities for Bowdoin’s new Digital and Computational Studies Initiative.
Hall has spent the past decade working on identifying 637 volumes in Galileo’s library and using digital analysis to create not just an archive but an interactive collection, revealing pathways between Galileo’s writing, his life, and the arts and sciences of the time period in which he lived.
The digital tools that Hall used for this task were computer languages and programs such as XML, Python, Natural Language Toolkit, VoyantTools, and plagiarism software – tools that helped her perform a multitude of textual analysis tasks on a large scale, such as searching for passages where Galileo used quotations and comparing words and context clues across the texts.
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