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CLIR Publishes Report on Use of Digital Technologies in Classical Studies

subject: CLIR
classical studies
digital technologies
Alison Babeu

CLIR Press Releases

For immediate release: August 24, 2011

Kathlin Smith

CLIR Publishes Report on Use of Digital Technologies in Classical Studies

Washington, DC—A new publication from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) examines the use of digital technologies in classical studies, focusing on classical Greece, Rome, and the ancient Middle and Near East. Titled “Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day” Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classicists, the report was written by Alison Babeu, digital librarian and research coordinator for the Perseus Project. It is available in electronic format only at

The 300-page report explores recent projects in the digital classics-broadly defined as the use of digital technologies in any field related to the study of classical antiquity-and how these projects are used. It also examines the infrastructure that supports digital classics as a discipline and investigates larger humanities cyberinfrastructure projects and existing tools or services that might be repurposed for the digital classics.

The overview amply illustrates how digital technologies are enabling scholars in classical studies to gain new understanding from historical sources. Among the notable developments is the reconceptualization of the “text.” In a foreword to the report, CLIR President Charles Henry writes that “as recently as a generation ago, the ‘text’ in classics was most often defined as a definitive edition, a printed artifact that was by nature static, usually edited by a single scholar, and representing a compilation and collation of several extant variations. Today, through the power and fluidity of digital tools, a text can mean something very different: there may be no canonical artifact, but instead a dataset of its many variations, with none accorded primary. A work of ancient literature is now more often deeply contextualized, its transmission over time more nuanced, and its continuity among the various instantiations more accurately articulated.”

Digital technologies facilitate scholarship that is increasingly collaborative and cross-disciplinary-themes that are echoed in the author’s overview of projects. Yet the issues and perspectives to which the study gives voice pertain beyond the digital classics to the humanities at large. They will be central to planning for a digital environment that supports advanced research, teaching, and lifelong learning in all areas.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.

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