Two Upcoming Sherman Centre Colloquium Events!

The semester has ended, but digital scholarship goes on! Two of our graduate research fellows will be speaking about their work on April 16th and 23rd, from 12:30-1:30. Feel free to bring your lunch and join us!

April 16th

Mahayana by Number: An Experiment in Automated Genre Analysis

Chris Handy (Religious Studies)

While Mahayana Buddhist literature tends to emphasize particular themes (e.g. the importance of asceticism, the possibility for laypersons to achieve enlightenment), there is still a great deal of contention about how the Mahayana tradition began, and what makes it distinct from mainstream Buddhism. It can therefore be difficult to ascertain whether or not a text is part of the Mahayana tradition. My project demonstrates a method for automatically determining the likelihood that a given text is part of the Mahayana tradition, using a technique known as automated genre analysis. Using a computer script to extract key phrases and technical terms from a database of known Mahayana texts, I create a stylistic “fingerprint” of the Mahayana literary genre. I then use another script to determine the likelihood that an unidentified text belongs to this genre. My demonstration focuses on the Mahayana, but can be extended easily to include other genres.

April 23rd

Underneath Costco: The Forgotten History of Ancaster’s Meadowlands

Jeremy Parsons (Geography and Earth Sciences)

In an age of increasing urbanization, rural communities and agricultural lifestyles are quickly disappearing. As auto-oriented suburban development replaces greenfields across Ontario, the unique histories of these rural fringes are often buried and forgotten. This presentation will chronicle the past of Ancaster’s Meadowlands: a wealthy residential community and an important commercial edge node for the region. I will also be pointing to digital and geospatial tools as valuable ways to display and memorialize suburban history.

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