DARC (Digital Archive Research Collective)

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Event: April 18th, 5:30 PM: Giants, Waterfalls, and Washing Machines: Similes in retold disaster narratives

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    Dear Colleagues,

    Please share this announcement and please consider joining us for a hybrid
    in-person/zoom talk next week by colleagues from the University of
    Canterbury’s Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive
    (http://www.ceismic.org.nz/), a public history/digital humanities project.



    Hi all,

    The M.A. Program in Digital Humanities is hosting an upcoming event in our
    program lounge (room 5307) and on Zoom. See below for details and poster

    GIANTS, WATERFALLS, AND WASHING MACHINES: Similes in retold disaster
    Tuesday, April 18th
    5:30 – 7:00 PM
    Room 5307
    Or register here for zoom link:

    Existing research on figurative language related to disasters has tended to
    focus on the use of metaphor in media and political discourse. The QuakeBox
    corpus presented us with an opportunity to look differently at the language
    of disasters by examining change and persistence of similes in the retold
    narratives of people who experienced a major earthquake. In this seminar we
    provide an overview of the QuakeBox corpus and our methods of data
    collection, with a close attention to certain characteristics and
    challenges. We will also discuss the choice to focus on similes and we will
    explore various themes and patterns that have emerged.


    Kaspar Middendorf, Manager, Arts Digital Lab, University of Canterbury

    Karin Stahel, Research Assistant, Arts Digital Lab, University of Canterbury

    Professor Paul Millar, English Department, University of Canterbury (via

    Professor Jeanette King, Aotahi School of Māori and Indigenous Studies,
    University of Canterbury (via Zoom)


    Kaspar Middendorf is the Manager of the Arts Digital Lab, and was part of
    the team that developed the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive.
    They have contributed to a number of major research projects, including
    QuakeBox Take 2, Understanding Place, and the Canterbury Roll digitisation
    project. Kaspar has qualifications in mathematics, linguistics and
    secondary teaching, and completed their MLING thesis in 2017, using
    statistical modelling to compare syntactic structures in the QuakeBox
    spoken language corpus with the written language of the Christchurch Press.

    Karin Stahel is a postgraduate student and teaching assistant in Data
    Science and Digital Humanities, and Research Assistant in the Arts Digital
    Lab. She completed the Master of Applied Data Science (MADS) programme at
    UC in 2021, and since then has assisted with research on a number of
    QuakeBox projects in the Arts Digital Lab. Karin is a recipient of the UC
    Aho Hīnātore | Accelerator Scholarship in 2023 and her research will
    explore the use of machine learning algorithms to classify the genre of
    articles in historical New Zealand newspapers.

    Paul Millar is a Professor of English Literature and Digital Humanities in
    the University of Canterbury’s School of Humanities and Creative Arts. His
    research interests include the literature of Aotearoa New Zealand, Life
    Writing, and Cultural Heritage Digital Archiving. In 2001 he co-founded
    Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand Electronic Text Collection,
    and at UC he led the establishment of New Zealand’s first Digital
    Humanities teaching programme. Following the Canterbury earthquakes he
    founded the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive (
    http://www.ceismic.org.nz), a cultural heritage database that collects stories,
    images and media about the earthquakes’ impacts for the purposes of
    commemoration, teaching and research. In 2022 he was awarded The Royal
    Society / Te Apārangi Pou Aronui medal ‘for distinguished service to
    humanities aronui over a sustained period’ in recognition of his promotion
    of the Digital Humanities in New Zealand.

    Jeanette King has published widely in areas relating to the Māori language
    and languages spoken by Māori – from aspects of linguistic change,
    particularly in the phrasal lexicon, through to language revitalization.
    She is a member of the MAONZE (Māori and New Zealand English) project
    examining change over time in the pronunciation of Māori. She leads the
    Diversity theme at the New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and
    Behaviour (NZILBB) at UC where her previous research includes work on
    non-verbal behaviour of Māori and Pākehā in New Zealand. Another project,
    entitled Tuhinga Māhorahora, collects and analyses writing by children in
    Māori immersion schooling in order to provide feedback to teachers about
    the use of Māori by their students. Her current research focusses on the
    protolexicon of Māori which adult New Zealanders have gained through
    exposure to the language and how that might be useful when they start to
    actively learn the language.

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