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Research at St Andrews

In defence of sandcastles: research thinking through visualization in DH

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Uta Hinrichs, Stefania Forlini

School/Research organisations


Although recent research acknowledges the potential of visualization methods in DH, the predominant terminology used to describe visualizations (prototypes, tools) narrowly focuses on their use as a means to an end and, more importantly, as an instrument in the service of humanities research. While acknowledging the broad range of possible approaches to visualization, we introduce the metaphor of the sandcastle to highlight visualization as a research process in its own right. We argue that building visualization sandcastles provides a holistic approach to interdisciplinary knowledge generation that embraces visualization as (1) a dynamic interdisciplinary process where speculation and re-interpretation advance knowledge in all disciplines involved, (2) a mediator of ideas and theories within and across disciplines and (3) an aesthetic provocation to elicit critical insights, interpretation, speculation and discussions within and beyond scholarly audiences. We illustrate our argument based on our own research of an exceptional literary collection.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Humanities 2017
Subtitle of host publicationConference Abstracts
PublisherInternational Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO)
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2017
EventDigital Humanities - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 8 Aug 201711 Aug 2017


ConferenceDigital Humanities
Abbreviated titleDH2017
Internet address

    Research areas

  • Digital Humanities, Information visualization, Tools

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ID: 249812288