Moving EMLoT towards the web of data: an approach to the representation of humanities citations based on role theory and formal ontology




The study of how texts quote and reference each other is a fundamental aspect of humanities disciplines at large; more specifically, it is the main goal of textual criticism. Scholars in this field of study aim at the identification of the elements that let them distinguish an original document (e.g., a manuscript) from its subsequent copies, to the purpose of better understanding phenomena such as the history of transmission of a text, or the propagation of an idea across the time and space dimensions. Accordingly, structural elements such as citations and quotations become objects of study in themselves, for they can reveal much more than a simple conceptual reference to a preexisting document.
In this essay we present an approach based on role theory and formal ontology whose purpose is to represent the key concepts in the field of textual transmission history. By characterizing the semantics of concepts such as reference, citation, quotation as they are normally used in this academic discipline, we aim at providing a framework that can enable more precise information integration services in this area, and more generally, in the digital humanities. At the same time, we want to show that the formalization of citations objects in the humanities is more complicated that expected, and that it requires an extension (and possibly a revision) of its correspondent solutions in the scientific world.
Our research derive from the Early Modern London Theatres project (EMLoT), whose goal was to build a database that lets you see what direct use has been made, over the last four centuries, of pre-1642 documents related to professional performance in purpose-built theaters and other permanent structures in the London area. In what follows we present our attempt to express the meaning of EMLoT’s data using a formal ontology, we discuss the methods being used and, more generally, highlight the various difficulties involved in the formal modeling of the domain of textual transmission history. The ontology will serve two purposes: first, it clarifies the meaning of the relevant concepts in this area; second, it poses the basis for further research aimed at facilitating the integration of this dataset with other ones available online.

Full reference:

Michele Pasin, Riichiro Mizoguchi. Moving EMLoT towards the web of data: an approach to the representation of humanities citations based on role theory and formal ontology - New Technologies in Medieval and Renaissance Studies forthcoming (part of the 'Envisioning REED in the Digital Age' collection).


See also:


paper  Moving Early Modern Theatre Online: The Records of Early English Drama introduces the Early Modern London Theatres Website

New Technologies and Renaissance Studies II, ed. Tassie Gniady and others, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies Series (Iter Academic Press), Dec 2014. Volume 4

paper  Factoid-based Prosopography and Computer Ontologies: towards an integrated approach

Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Dec 2014. doi: 10.1093/llc/fqt037


paper  Moving EMLoT towards the web of data: an approach to the representation of humanities citations based on role theory and formal ontology

New Technologies in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, (forthcoming). (part of the 'Envisioning REED in the Digital Age' collection)

paper  Citations and Annotations in Classics: Old Problems and New Perspectives

Collaborative Annotation in Shared Environments: Metadata, vocabularies and techniques in the Digital Humanities (workshop co-located with ACM DocEng 2013 Conference), Florence, Sep 2013.

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New Perspectives on Medieval Scotland: 1093-1286, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, Studies in Celtic History Series, Aug 2013.


paper  Annotation and Ontology in most Humanities research: accommodating a more informal interpretation context

NeDiMaH workshop on ontology based annotation, held in conjunction with Digital Humanities 2012, Hamburg, Germany, Jul 2012.


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Lecture slides from the Course on digital history, part of the master in Digital Humanities at King's College, London., Oct 2011.

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Representing Knowledge in the Digital Humanities, Lawrence, Kansas, Sep 2011.

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Digital Humanities 2011 , Stanford, USA, Jun 2011.

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Digital Humanities 2011 , Stanford, USA, Jun 2011.


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Humana Mente, Journal of Philosophical Studies, 13, May 2010. Issue 13


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Semantic Web Technologies for e-Learning, Oct 2009. D. Dicheva, R. Mizoguchi, J. Greer (Eds.), vol. 4 The Future of Learning, IOS Press

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Proc. of the Digital Humanities Conference (DH09), Maryland, USA, Jun 2009. pp. 211-215


paper  Formalizing ʻphilosophicalʼ narratives: the tension between form and content

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paper  AquaLog A Ontology-portable Question Answering interface for the Semantic Web

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paper  Theory of Knowledge in the Postfordistic Society

Undergraduate degree thesis in italian (kindly published as a white-paper by ItConsult SRL), Universita Ca' Foscari, Venice, Italy, Sep 2003.