SDC4Lit - a science data center for literature

1. Abstract

SDC4Lit – A science data center for literature

Digital media changes the conditions of production, distribution, reception and scientific research of literature. The Digital Humanities currently focus on the possibilities digital methods provide for researching literature (Distant/Scalable Reading). However, digital media has also played an important role in the development of new literary genres and poetics like hypertext novels, literary blogs, twitter bots, text generators and many more. (Hayles 1999; Slater 2018; Rettberg 2019)

On the one hand, these texts seem to be perfectly suited for computational methods since they are genuinely electronic. On the other hand, electronic media implies many new requirements for cultural institutions when dealing with these materials, especially regarding the process of archiving and re-presentation (Seiça, 2015). The high frequency of technical development in digital media means that hardware and software can be outdated and thus hard to find only years after the production of an electronic literary work. This calls for new archival strategies and for new, non-linear models of electronic text. (Kramski/Buelow, 2011; Connor et al., 2019)

The newly founded interdisciplinary Science Data Center for Literature (SDC4Lit) aims to systematically reflect the technical and aesthetic nature and the resulting requirements of digital literature. Research and development take into account that modeling, archiving and analyzing digital literature needs to be closely connected to research questions in the respective domains. The SDC4Lit project combines four partners: the German Literature Archive (DLA), the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart, the department of computational linguistics and the department of digital humanities, both University of Stuttgart.

SDC4Lit focuses on archival solutions and research methods. The group will develop longterm repositories for digital literature and respective research data and a web platform providing access to the repositories and to computational research tools. Thus, the project will develop and implement a sustainable data life cycle for born digital literature within its institutional framework. The repositories represent the main storage for continuous harvesting of net literature and for other born-digital material. The research platform provides specific tools and methods for further analysis of the works in the repositories. Repositories and research platform will be connected through an Advanced Programming Interface (API). This approach provides the possibility to integrate more repositories and to provide low-level access to the SDC-repositories to other projects. In addition to the digital objects and their metadata the project will develop and implement a dedicated repository for all research data. This includes all research data produced by the project SDC4Lit itself as well as research data generated by users, e.g. annotations or additional metadata for single objects or object classes.

The involvement of the communities participating in the production, distribution, research and mediation of electronic literature will be a decisive element for the project. Outreach measures include workshops and seminars, working with focus groups and the installation of an advisory board. The collection, provision, research and mediation of literature in electronic media is a task that concerns both research and archives. It is the goal of SDC4Lit to work on and fulfill these tasks in an inclusive and interdisciplinary way as described above.


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Hayles, N. Katherine (1999): How we became posthuman : virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics, Chicago (Ill.): The University of Chicago Press.
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Rettberg, Scott (2019): Electronic literature. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
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Slater, Avery (2018): „Crypto-Monolingualism. Machine Translation and the Poetics of
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Claus-Michael Schlesinger (, University of Stuttgart, Gabriel Viehhauser , University of Stuttgart, Mona Ulrich , Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Jan Hess , Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Roland Kamzelak , Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Heinz Werner Kramski , Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Kerstin Jung , University of Stuttgart, Jonas Kuhn , University of Stuttgart, Björn Schembera , University of Stuttgart, Thomas Bönisch , University of Stuttgart and Andreas Kaminski , University of Stuttgart

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