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Humanist Archives: Aug. 9, 2019, 6:19 a.m. Humanist 33.175 - texts mapped to places

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 175.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2019-08-08 11:32:00+00:00
        From: Brady Kiesling 
        Subject: ToposText as an improving Classics resource

Dear Colleagues,

The ToposText free mobile library of ancient texts mapped to ancient
places continues to expand, with fresh Android and iPhone versions out a
few days ago. Currently 748 ancient texts in (mostly) open-source
English translation, linked to the Greek or Latin (and with the Greek
text of Iliad, Odyssey, Herodotus, Thucydides, pseudo-Skylax, Polybius,
Strabo, and Pausanias on-device and toggled to the English).

Geographic coverage is the whole ancient Greco-Roman world from Thule to
Taprobane, named places with a noticeable literary footprint. For Greece
(and partly for Cyprus) I include every archaeological site or ancient
tower I have the strength for, a high proportion with ground-truthed or
Google-Earth-derived coordinates. Rome and Athens have hundreds of
individual buildings and monuments mapped, with key literary references.

A new ToposText.org website is up as well, with a reengineered (cleaner)
json api-based architecture that circumvents the old problem of sluggish
loading of large texts.

Click on a keyword-in-context literary citation of a given place (or
personal name), and read the full paragraph in a pop-up (modal) before
deciding to load the full text or go back to your search (with your
filters intact, unlike before). Also a friendlier map pop-up to show you
place locations when reading texts.

I urge you to point your students toward the topostext.org/search-tool

We risk drowning the intellectual curiosity of undergraduates in turgid
secondary material in languages they don't know. It is much better to
let them play with primary sources early.

Just explain a couple of basic "regex" concepts (\b as word boundary,
[a-z]+ character ranges) and let them come up with and test a hypothesis
using ancient sources.

I had a theory about directional prayer in antiquity. I searched the 20
million words of the TT library for "\bpray" within 100 characters of
"toward". The result was 74 passages, including (as far as I can tell)
the only explicit example of over-the-horizon prayer in Classical
literature, toward Hera in Argos, from Thebes (Euripides, Phoenician
Women 1342ff). So if students are interested in gladiators they can
search for 'turn' and 'thumb' in order to find Juvenal 3.36, or search
for 'Hannibal' and 'elephants' if military technology is their
obsession, and thereby learn the joy of exploring the classics,
including via obscure texts they might never otherwise encounter.

A new TT service may one day be useful, as we gradually move to more use
of hypertext teaching materials. With the new API it is now possible to
query the TT database and pull up any specific paragraph via the CTS id.
So for Herodotus 3.27, https  ://topostext

The output is ugly JSON that needs to be instructed by the browswer what
to look like (ideally a text box that appears when you hover over (Hdt.
3.27) in your hypertext. Your advice is eagerly solicited on how to make
the output more web-designer-friendly.

The query works because the CTS ID is embedded in each paragraph. In
fact, the query will pull up the first instance of any string. So a
search for  ?text=Athens will give you Homer, Iliad 2.546ff, and
human+happiness will give you Plato's Phaedrus.

I am also working to reduce text chunks to smaller sizes to make
ToposText paragraphs more user-friendly and less removed from formal
citation numbers. The next iteration of the website will have Iliad and
Odyssey in five-line chunks, and other key texts likewise better
discriminated for CTS id purposes.

Thank you for reading this. Wishing you a fine remainder of the summer,
and hoping you will spread the word to students and colleagues that the
improved ToposText is a resource would-be classicists might enjoy
playing with.

Regards from Athens

Brady Kiesling

+30 6946578290 (GR mobile)
+30 210 3227463 (GR phone/fax)
kieslings (Skype name)

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Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
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