Call for Papers (english)

Call for Papers for the International Conference:
„Digital Humanities und Transnational History“

A balance conference of the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe in the context of the e-Humanities Project “GeoBib – Early German and Polish Holocaust and Camp Literature (1933–1949)”

Marburg, 7 – 9 May, 2015

Organised in cooperation with the Centre for Media and Interactivity at the Justus-Liebig University, Gießen and the German Historians’ Association’s Working Group for Digital History

One of the key questions we continue to grapple with in the area of digital humanities is whether we want to recognize these principally as a set of tools that enable a new way of working or rather as an independent field of research with its own claim to knowledge. The aim of the conference is to deal with this fundamental question by concentrating on one area, which is increasingly coming into focus as a possible interface between the historical sciences and the digital humanities: the research of transnational history.

Digital information is globally accessible, and enables cross-border communication. Methods, concepts and products of the digital humanities are therefore not confined to nationally defined spaces, but instead operate through this medium across borders and allow for the dissemination of transnational knowledge. Particularly in recent years, a number of digital projects have been initiated in this direction within the historical sciences. However, in the fields of transnational history and historical cross-border relations, there is still a lack of theoretical and practical reflection with regard to how central questions and assumptions behind methodologies relate to the discussions around digital humanities.

Still open for discussion is how the central questions in both these areas of research, with regard to implementation, can be brought together conceptually, and what kinds of legal and ethical questions this raises. This applies to the architecture of the offer, thematic multi-perspectivity and (multi)-linguilism. It also concerns the hyper-textual networking, contextualization and analytical competence of texts that pose problems in terms of compatibility for international research due to their being regulated differently from country to country.

How, therefore, do the content and methods of transnational history influence the digital humanities, and vice versa? A question also remains around the way new media content and theoretical debates about transnational history could change, and which trends we can expect to see in this area in the future. We welcome contributions to the conference that deal with, but are not limited to, the following areas of interest and also look at concrete examples:

  • How has the relationship between the humanities and information science changed overall through the digital humanities? Which methods have not yet been received reciprocally by the two disciplines and which are still to be reflected on by both sides together? Where do the opportunities and boundaries lie in terms of collaboration? What are the corresponding expectations for the future?


  • At which points within the area of transnational history have digital humanities brought about qualitative changes and further potential for insights? Where do they sit in terms of complimenting existing methodology? Where can we start to see evidence of questions or problems arising?


  • What are the central development prospects with regard to content, media concepts and technology? For example, how do standard data, product standards and infrastructures influence communication of history and shared historical content in a transnational context? Which digital tools in the area of transnational historical research are still conceivable with an aim to optimizing the research and distribution of knowledge in a particular field of study?


  • How can historians be best prepared for work in digital humanities projects during their studies? Are we in need of new tools for digital source criticism, and is the evaluation competence of “classical” humanities scholars sufficient when applied to the methods and products of the digital humanities? How is user research developing in the area of digital information? Are relevant experiences from individual projects and portals already able to be evaluated and classified?


  • How do we evaluate cross-border discussion around the topic of open access? How can we can guarantee continued access to the results of digital humanities projects in the long term? How can the research data from projects be made available to other researchers irrespective of borders, and what are the technical and legal aspects of this that we need to be particularly mindful of?

The conference will be devoted to looking at all of these questions, and will form part of the wider e-humanities project, entitled “GeoBib – Early German and Polish Holocaust and Camp Literature (1939–1949)” that is being promoted by the BMBF. Spaces will be allotted to, firstly, theoretical and conceptional contributions. Secondly, presentations are very welcome that can introduce, by way of example, either completed or emerging case studies, that relate to the aforementioned questions. We would also like to invite proposals, not only from historians, but also representatives from neighboring disciplines, especially those who work closely alongside them.

Fourthly, our aim is to discuss our experiences of how best to prepare future scientists for entry into this field of work. For this reason, we are looking forward to contributions from tertiary course developers and overseers with the goal of discussing experiences around teaching modules that deal with transnational content in the area of the digital humanities. This should open up the opportunity to discuss perspectives around how to integrate areas of competence from the field of digital humanities into tertiary history courses.

The schedule includes presentations of 25 to 30 minutes each; the conference will feature German and English language (without translation). Projects that deal with individual areas of research can also be presented in the form of posters and information brochures. We ask anyone interested in presenting to send a proposal (max 1 page) and a short curriculum vitae before 15 December (inclusive). Please include in the subject line “CfP: Digital Humanities and Transnational History” and send to: The deadline for the poster is 15 January 2015. A selection process will follow and be completed by 31 January 2015.

Contact person:
Annalena Schmidt, M.A.
Scientific associate on the BMBF-Project “GeoBib – Early German and Polish Holocaust and Camp Literature (1933–1949). Annotated and georeferenced online bibliography for the research of memory narratives”

Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association
Gisonenweg 5–7
D-35037 Marburg
Tel: +49-6421-184-201

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