Fellow Detail

Photo of Melodee Helene Beals
Name Melodee Helene Beals
Affiliation Loughborough University
Research area code (V1) History by period
Fellowship Inauguration Year 2016
GitHub mhbeals
Short Biography

I am a historian of migration and media, using research software to explore the ways in which the movement of peoples and ideas intersect. My research focuses on the culture of reprinting in the nineteenth century, using software-driven techniques to uncover evidence of undocumented editorial practices. Much like today, the nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented information-overload, as newspapers and magazines sprung up throughout the Atlantic, inundating readers with a wide-ranging and contradictory view of life at home and abroad. Written by anonymous authors, reused without permission and manipulated to suit the needs of different publishers, how consumers made sense of this conflicting information, and the extent to which consistency was even a concern for publishers, remains largely a mystery. My project seeks to understand the transmission of news content and determine the extent to which free, multipolar networks contributed to economic and cultural growth. Working within a self-constructed XML database, I use plagiarism detection software to identify reprints of colonial texts within British periodicals and undertake character-by-character comparisons to create phylogenetic (evolutionary) trees of the reprinting of each text. Currently in prototype, I am working with the British Library to scale the software and methodology across their digitised newspaper collections (over 15 million news articles across 71 publications from 1800-1900). Once completed, it will provide humanities scholars with new research software that will build a better understanding of the influence exerted by and the connections forged between these publications.

Previous events

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Blog Posts

Blog Publish date
Building a better data trap, or why data structures matter Tuesday, 17 October 2017
NULL, not void Tuesday, 17 October 2017
The danger of digitizing old practices Monday, 16 October 2017
Building a better data trap, or why data structures matter Friday, 09 June 2017