Call for Computational Folkloristics Papers

What’s this? Two CFPs at the Irregular in quick succession? That’s right, first Marten Düring’s fabulous Historical Network Research cfp comes out, and it has been followed closely by a call for papers by the great and powerful Tim Tangherlini. Those of you who don’t know him, should. Tangherlini organized the wildly successful Networks and Network Analysis for the Humanities NEH Summer Workshop and followup conference, is the co-author on a wonderful piece on computational folkloristics, and is a great guy to boot. He also dances comfortably on the bleeding edge of computational humanities research. All of these should be reason enough to either submit to or wait in eager anticipation of Tim’s forthcoming special issue of the Journal of American Folklore, the CFP for which is bellow.

I should point out that the Journal of American Folklore is not Open Access. If this is something you care about (and you should), but you’re interested in submitting an article, consider emailing the editor of JAF and asking for the journal to join the admirable ranks of Open Folklore, a Bloomington-based initiative that hopes to increase access to folklore material of all varieties. The initiative is also part of the American Folklore Society, which is responsible for the above-mentioned Journal of American Folklore.

One of Tangherlini's many neat analytic analyses of folklore.
One of Tangherlini’s many neat analytic analyses of folklore. via ACM.


Over the course of the past decade, a revolution has occurred in the materials available for the study of folklore. The scope of digital archives of traditional expressive forms has exploded, and the magnitude of machine-readable materials available for consideration has increased by many orders of magnitude. Many national archives have made significant efforts to make their archival resources machine-readable, while other smaller initiatives have focused on the digitization of archival resources related to smaller regions, a single collector, or a single genre. Simultaneously, the explosive growth in social media, web logs (blogs), and other Internet resources have made previously hard to access forms of traditional expressive culture accessible at a scale so large that it is hard to fathom. These developments, coupled to the development of algorithmic approaches to the analysis of large, unstructured data and new methods for the visualization of the relationships discovered by these algorithmic approaches—from mapping to 3-D embedding, from time-lines to navigable visualizations—offer folklorists new opportunities for the analysis of traditional expressive forms. We label approaches to the study of folklore that leverage the power of these algorithmic approaches “Computational Folkloristics” (Abello, Broadwell, Tangherlini 2012).

The Journal of American Folklore invites papers for consideration for inclusion in a special issue of the journal edited by Timothy Tangherlini that focuses on “Computational Folkloristics.” The goal of the special issue is to reveal how computational methods can augment the study of folklore, and propose methods that can extend the traditional reach of the discipline. To avoid confusion, we term those approaches “computational” that make use of algorithmic methods to assist in the interpretation of relationships or structures in the underlying data. Consequently, “Computational Folkloristics” is distinct from Digital Folklore in the application of computation to a digital representation of a corpus.

We are particularly interested in papers that focus on: the automatic discovery of narrative structure; challenges in Natural Language Processing (NLP) related to unlabeled, multilingual data including named entity detection and resolution; topic modeling and other methods that explore latent semantic aspects of a folklore corpus; the alignment of folklore data with external historical datasets such as census records; GIS applications and methods; network analysis methods for the study of, among other things, propagation, community detection and influence; rapid classification of unlabeled folklore data; search and discovery on and across folklore corpora; modeling of folklore processes; automatic labeling of performance phenomena in visual data; automatic classification of audio performances. Other novel approaches to the study of folklore that make use of algorithmic approaches will also be considered.

A significant challenge of this special issue is to address these issues in a manner that is directly relevant to the community of folklorists (as opposed to computer scientists). Articles should be written in such a way that the argument and methods are accessible and understandable for an audience expert in folklore but not expert in computer science or applied mathematics. To that end, we encourage team submissions that bridge the gap between these disciplines. If you are in doubt about whether your approach or your target domain is appropriate for consideration in this special issue, please email the issue editor, Timothy Tangherlini at, using the subject line “Computational Folkloristics—query”. Deadline for all queries is April 1, 2013.

All papers must conform to the Journal of American Folklore’s style sheet for authors. The guidelines for article submission are as follows: Essay manuscripts should be no more than 10,000 words in length, including abstract, notes, and bibliography. The article must begin with a 50- to 75-word abstract that summarizes the essential points and findings of the article. Whenever possible, authors should submit two copies of their manuscripts by email attachment to the editor of the special issue at: The first copy should be sent in Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (rtf) and should include the author’s name. Figures should not be included in this document, but “call outs” should be used to designate where figures should be placed (e.g., “<insert Figure 1 here>”). A list at the end of the article (placed after the bibliography) should detail the figures to be included, along with their captions. The second copy of the manuscript should be sent in Portable Document Format (pdf). This version should not include the author’s name or any references within the text that would identify the author to the manuscript reviewers. Passages that would identify the author can be marked in the following manner to indicate excised words: (****). Figures should be embedded in this version just as they would ideally be placed in the published text. Possible supplementary materials (e.g., additional photographs, sound files, video footage, etc.) that might accompany the article in its online version should be described in a cover letter addressed to the editor. An advisory board for the special issue consisting of folklorists and computer scientists will initially consider all papers. Once accepted for the special issue, all articles will be subject to the standard refereeing procedure for the journal. Deadline for submissions for consideration is June 15, 2013. Initial decisions will be made by August 1, 2013. Final decisions will be made by October 1, 2013. We expect the issue to appear in 2014.

CfP: “Historical Network Research” at Sunbelt, May 21-26, Germany

Marten Düring, an altogether wonderful researcher who is responsible for this brilliant bibliography of networks in history, has issues a call for papers to participate in this year’s Sunbelt Conference, which is one of the premier social network analysis conferences in the world.

Historical network. via.
Historical network. via Marten Düring.


Call for papers “Historical Network Research” at the XXXIII. Sunbelt Conference, May 21-26 – University of Hamburg, Germany


The concepts and methods of social network analysis in historical research are recently being used not only as a mere metaphor but are increasingly applied in practice. In the last decades several studies in the social sciences proved that formal methods derived from social network analysis can be fruitfully applied to selected bodies of historical data as well. These studies however tend to be strongly influenced by concerns, standards of data processing, and, above all, epistemological paradigms that have their roots in the social sciences. Among historians, the term network has been used in a metaphorical sense alone for a long time. It was only recently that this has changed.
We invite papers which successfully integrate social network analysis methods and historical research methods and reflect on the added value of their methodologies. Topics could cover (but are not limited to) network analyses of correspondences, social movements, kinship or economic systems in any historical period.
Submission will be closing on December 31 at 11:59:59 EST. Please limit your abstract to 250 words. Please submit your abstract here:
and select “Historical Network Research” as session title in the drop down box on the submission site. Please put a note in the “additional notes” box on the abstract submission form that states Marten During and Martin Stark as the session organizers.
For further information on the venue and conference registration see:, for any questions regarding the panel, please get in touch with the session organizers.

Session organizers:
Marten During, Radboud University Nijmegen,
Martin Stark, University of Hamburg,

Check for a detailed bibliography, conferences, screencasts and other resources.

The Internet Listens

The public science blogosphere has recently been buzzing about an online edited book review called Download The Universe. The twist is that the editors only review online-only science books, and their definition of “book” is broadly construed:

[W]e define ebooks broadly. They may be self-published pdf manuscripts. They may be Kindle Singles about science. They can even be apps that have games embedded in them. We hope that we will eventually review new kinds of ebooks that we can’t even imagine yet. And we hope that you will find Download the Universe a useful doorway into that future.

The site aims to fill the publicity gap that prevents interesting and good science ebooks from finding their way into the hands of receptive readers. Traditional reviews and blogs tend not to cover this new media, the editors say. In the spirit of the fast-paced nature of the internet, the entire project was conceived last month at Science Online (#scio12) and already features 8 posts and an editing staff of 16.

Download The Universe

My initial excitement of this project was tempered somewhat when I found that their news feed offered exceptionally tiny snippets of their ebook reviews. That’s no good! I’m subscribed to 361 feeds in Google Reader, with nearly 500 posts a day, and if I don’t have a few paragraphs to see whether an article is interesting, it is unlikely that I’d ever click through to the actual page to investigate further. (By the way, if you’re interested in the best of what I read, you can subscribe to my favorite feed items here, where I read through 361 blogs so you don’t have to.) Unfortunately, snippet news feeds are becoming increasingly frequent, as blogs and sites attempt to entice you to their pages where they can get usage statistics and ad-views in ways they could not through a simple RSS feed.

Apparently, when you talk, the internet listens. My disappointment was such that I sent an email to the coordinating editor, science writer Carl Zimmer, explaining my problem. He immediately sent a reply telling me he would look into the feedburner settings, and within short order, the RSS became a full, no-snippet news feed. Woah! A big (and public) thank you to Carl Zimmer, and the entire crew at Download The Universe, for putting together a wonderful and important new site and for being so receptive to their readers. Bravo!

Citing ODH’s Summer Institutes

While I generally like to reserve posts for a wider audience, this is the second time I’ve come across this particular issue, and I’d like help from the masses. Every summer, the NEH’s Office for Digital Humanities funds a series of Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities. I’ve had the great fortune of attending one on computer simulations in the humanities, and teaching at one on network analysis for the humanities. I often find myself wishing I could cite one, as a whole, because of all the valuable experience and knowledge I received there. Unfortunately I have found no standard format to cite whole conferences, workshops, or summer institutes.

Our Great and Glorious Funders

I asked Brett Bobley, the ODH director, if he had any suggestions, but unfortunately he was at as much a loss as I. His reply: “Good question! I’d cite the URL (ex: ). But we don’t have a format. Want to choose one & we’ll anoint it?” I’m not terribly familiar with citation styles, but I figured I’d try one out and see if the The DH Hive Mind had any better ideas. If so, please post in the comments. Ideally, the citation should include the URL of the grant, the PI(s), the date, the location, and the grant number (this is very important for tracking the impact of these summer institutes). While the PI is important, though, as the cited ideas do not come from the PI but rather the entire institute, I have chosen to place the institute name first.

“Network Analysis for the Humanities.” August 15-27, 2010. ODH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities: HT-50016-09. Tim Tangherlini, PI.

“Computer Simulations in the Humanities.” June 1-17, 2011. ODH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities: HT-50030-10. Marvin J. Croy, PI.

What thoughts?