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Unexpected Applications of the Humanities

Prof. dr. Rens Bod (Amsterdam University)


The humanities have often been viewed as a luxury pastime. Yet a quick look at their history shows a rather different picture. Not only did humanistic insights change the world, many of these insights dealt with concrete problems and led to applications in entirely unexpected fields -- from historical text-reconstruction techniques that were taken over in genetics to the invention of formal grammar in linguistics that was taken over in computer science. In this talk I will discuss some recent applications that emerged from humanistic investigations where I shall focus on the new field of Digital Humanities (also eHumanities) which integrates the humanities with computer technology. I will argue that there is no need to be modest about the feats and deeds of the humanistic disciplines – it is only that humanists could sell them much better.