The publication in 1999 of Patrick Wormald’s first volume of The Making of English Law changed unalterably the ways in which scholars approached the evidence of English law codes. When Patrick died five years later, the second volume of Making, which was intended to consider the real life meaning and practices of English laws, was left unpublished. Fortunately, Stephen Baxter and John Hudson have reconstructed as much of volume 2 as is possible and have offered it to Early English Laws for publication online, where it will serve as a reference work of tremendous importance for all who are interested in the legal world of the English up to the time of Magna Carta. In their introduction to Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law, Baxter and Hudson explain the genesis of the book and the nature of its parts.
We are especially grateful for the privilege of publishing Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law on the Early English Laws site because of a piece of the project’s own history. Our project started as an idea that arose at the memorial conference for Patrick held at St. Hilda’s College Oxford in 2006. All recognized because of Patrick’s work how much could now be done with the texts of English law. By the end of the conference, most of the literary board had been recruited, and soon thereafter the collaboration between the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London and the (then) Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College London (now the Department of Digital Humanities) had been agreed. Funding from the AHRC made this pious gesture intended to honour Patrick, and to extend his work, a reality. It seems, then, particularly appropriate that we are also able to bring Patrick’s final work to those of you who are fascinated by the intricate and challenging world of early English law.
One final point. Although Papers Preparatory is a conglomeration of papers, chapters, outlines and proposals Patrick had drafted at various stages of the second volume’s development, it should be cited as a whole with the following elements (according, of course, to the dictates of individual style guides): Patrick Wormald, Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century, vol. II: From God’s Law to Common Law, edited by Stephen Baxter and John Hudson (University of London: Early English Laws, 2014) <http://www.earlyenglishlaws.ac.uk/reference/wormald/>
One of the main aims of the Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities project is to involve arts and humanities researchers in the development of tools for analysing web archives, thereby ensuring that those tools meet real rather than perceived researcher needs. We recently ran an open competition inviting researchers to submit proposals across a range of disciplines which focus on the archived web, and have selected 11 from a tremendously strong and varied set of applications. The topics that will be studied over the next eight months are:
Rowan Aust – Tracing notions of heritage
Rona Cran – Beat literature in the contemporary imagination
Richard Deswarte – Revealing British Eurosceptism in the UK web domain and archive
Chris Fryer – The UK Parliament Web Archive
Saskia Huc-Hepher – An ethnosemiotic study of London French habitus as displayed in blogs
Alison Kay – Capture, commemoration and the citizen-historian: Digital Shoebox archives relating to P.O.W.s in the Second World War
Gareth Millward – Digital barriers and the accessible web: disabled people, information and the internet
Marta Musso – A history of the online presence of UK companies
Harry Raffal – The MOD’s online development and strategy for recruitment between 1996 and 2013
Lorna Richardson – Public archaeology: a digital perspective
Helen Taylor – Do online networks exist for the poetry community?
We very much look forward to working with our bursary holders over the coming months, and will be showcasing some of their research findings on the project blog.
We are delighted to have been awarded AHRC funding for a new research project, ‘Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities‘. BUDDAH aims to transform the way in which researchers in the arts and humanities engage with the archived web, focusing on data derived from the UK web domain crawl for the period 1996-2013. Web archives are an increasingly important resource for arts and humanities researchers, yet we have neither the expertise nor the tools to use them effectively. Both the data itself, totalling approximately 65 terabytes and constituting many billions of words, and the process of collection are poorly understood, and it is possible only to draw the broadest of conclusions from current analytical analysis.
A key objective of the project will be to develop a theoretical and methodological framework within which to study this data, which will be applicable to the much larger on-going UK domain crawl, as well as in other national contexts. Researchers will work with developers at the British Library to co-produce tools which will support their requirements, testing different methods and approaches. In addition, a major study of the history of UK web space from 1996 to 2013 will be complemented by a series of small research projects from a range of disciplines, for example contemporary history, literature, gender studies and material culture.
We were delighted to hear on 15 January that the IHR, along with the universities of Amsterdam and Toronto, King’s College London and the History of Parliament Trust, has been awarded funding by the international Digging into Data Challenge 2013. ‘Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data’ is one of fourteen projects which, over the next two years, will investigate how computational techniques can be applied to ‘big data’ in the humanities and social sciences.
Parliamentary proceedings reflect our history from centuries ago to the present day. They exist in a common format that has survived the test of time, and reflect any event of significance (through times of war and peace, of economic crisis and prosperity). With carefully curated proceedings becoming available in digital form in many countries, new research opportunities arise to analyse this data, on an unprecedented longitudinal scale, and across different nations, cultures and systems of political representation.
Focusing on the UK, Canada and The Netherlands, this project will deliver a common format for encoding parliamentary proceedings (with an initial focus on 1800–yesterday); a joint dataset covering all three jurisdictions; a workbench with a range of tools for the comparative, longitudinal study of parliamentary data; and substantive case studies focusing on migration, left/right ideological polarization and parliamentary language. We hope that comparative analysis of this kind, and the tools to support it, will inform a new approach to the history of parliamentary communication and discourse, and address new research questions.
A project website will be up and running in the next few weeks, so watch this space for more information!