Circling around texts and language: towards "pragmatic modelling" in Digital Humanities

Arianna Ciula, Cristina Marras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we introduce the syntagm "pragmatic modelling" as a productive way of contextualising research in Digital Humanities (DH). We define "pragmatic modelling" as a middle-out approach (neither top down nor bottom up) that combines formal and experimental modelling techniques with an effective use of language. Furthermore, in order to elucidate a "pragmatic understanding" of model building, we reflect on texts (considered here as objects) and modelling (or strategy of analysis) in DH research (and teaching). This paper does not identify a new practice or approach; rather it offers an explanatory framework for existing practices. As the paper explains, this framework goes beyond existing ones and allows us to think about modelling in a more integral way. Drawing on this framework, we reveal how DH modelling practices challenge epistemological and linguistic restrictions, by, for example, problematising the adoption of terminology belonging to the domain of computer sciences. Reflections on metaphorical reasoning are used to exemplify how polarities and some rigidities DH research could find itself embedded in are overcome in practice. We conclude by advocating the importance of a diachronic and historical analysis of the role of metaphors in DH to further explore the relation between theory and practice as well as to develop models of modelling integral to DH research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventDigital Humanities 2014 - Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: 7 Jul 201412 Jul 2014


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