Digital scholarship blog

24 February 2014

#bldigital British Library Collaborative PhD studentship

Come September there will be a new member of the Digital Research team, a doctoral candidate who will work with us and the Department of History at the University of Sheffield on a project entitled ‘A History of the Printed Image 1750-1850: Applying Data Science Techniques to Printed Book Illustration’. Funded by a British Library and University of Sheffield Collaborative PhD Studentship, the project will rethink why, how, and in what ways technology shaped the nature and meaning of book illustration between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century. It is envisaged that in their research the successful applicant will use both established art and cultural history approaches and emerging, digitally-driven approaches to examine this period of enormous stylistic, modal and technological innovation in book illustration. And along the way they will explore, critique and compare these approaches, evaluating the utility of such methods of enquiry.


The starting point for their research, supervised by Karen Harvey and I, will be a collection of 1 million images extracted from 17th, 18th and 19th century digitised books. Since early December, when we released these images into the public domain via Flickr, over 120 million image views have been recorded, over 30,000 tags added, and a AHRC-funded project popped up.


This is a rich collection, the scale and breadth of which presents both opportunities and challenges to researchers. By having a research project of this kind embedded within the Digital Research team we hope to find out more about the collection, to continue learning about both the potential and the limitations of this category of work, and to develop our capability for supporting digitally-driven research in the arts and humanities as such practices establish themselves within the profession at large.

The closing data for applications is 2 May 2014 at 5pm and interviews will take place in the week commencing 2 June 2014. Prospective applicants can find further details on the University of Sheffield PhD Projects Directory and are encouraged to direct academic enquiries to Dr Karen Harvey or Dr James Baker



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