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Allgemein vDHd2021 Blogreihe

Science Ink – Scholarly communication off the track

The FWF project CoReMA – Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages (I 3614) provides the basis for the planned project. The project focuses on the question of the origin, transmission and migration of medieval cooking recipe texts. The corpus of texts to be studied is drawn from the handwritten recipe tradition of France and the German-speaking countries and comprises more than 80 manuscripts with over 8000 recipe texts.

Note: This is the English translation (automatically with DeepL). The German original written by Helmut W. Klug (University of Graz) can be found here.

Scientific background

The FWF project CoReMA – Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages (I 3614) provides the basis for the planned project. The project focuses on the question of the origin, transmission and migration of medieval cooking recipe texts. The corpus of texts to be studied is drawn from the handwritten recipe tradition of France and the German-speaking countries and comprises more than 80 manuscripts with over 8000 recipe texts. These have survived in Latin, Middle French and early New High German. For computer-aided analysis, the texts and their metadata are modeled using XML/TEI and Semantic Web technologies. All recipes will be enriched with metadata relevant to language and cultural history. This should make it possible to analyze the texts across language boundaries. 

The research area of historical culinary arts with a focus on the Middle Ages, which as an epoch spans close to 1000 years, combines a wide range of historical sub-disciplines: This expertise provides the parameters for the research questions central to the project, which revolve around recipe comparison. It includes, among other things, knowledge of Early High German in grammar (text type, sentence structure) and vocabulary (kitchen terms), historical writing (late Gothic bastarda, cursive, etc.) and writing practice (abridgements), religion (food laws and prohibitions), feasts and fasts (a.o. dietary customs), medicine (dietetics as basic health care), economic and trade history (e.g. spice trade), climate history (keyword: ‚Little Ice Age‘), agricultural history (production methods and yield), architectural history (kitchen and kitchen utensils), etc.

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Home page of the project homepage 

In CoReMA, historical recipes are being made accessible for the first time using methods from the digital humanities. The first step is the transcription of the source texts on the basis of digital images. The texts will be indexed in the sense of modern edition scientific standards and thus form the starting point for the semi-automatic semantic XML-based modeling of the text structure and the annotation of content aspects. These – ingredients and kitchen utensils – are enriched by the respective Wikidata ID. The texts are thus prepared for connection to semantic knowledge networks (Semantic Web) and are available as Linked Open Data. This way of indexing the texts is the basis for comparability across language boundaries. With the help of digital indexing and visualization methods (faceted search, graphs, maps, statistical processing), relevant metadata such as time and region/place of origin can be added to the extensive recipe corpus to make it generally accessible and examine it in relation to the project’s internal research questions. At the same time, this also opens up the corpus for future research.

The recipes, their tradition and their historical background as well as the applied research methods form the scientific basis that is to be communicated to the intended target groups in the Science Ink project. From a scientific point of view, the omnipresent interest in food, nutrition and eating styles is a positive starting point that should not be underestimated. The digital methods go hand in hand with the steadily advancing digitalization of daily life and thus offer practical points of connection to the everyday lives of the target groups.

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Science Ink Logo

Objective

In the Science Ink project (FWF, WPK-115-G), the content of historical culinary arts and the methods of digital humanities are processed using modern means. One concern is the creation of contemporary media products that can be used in different settings in the context of scholarly communication. These products are video clips, an online game, supplementary essayistic summaries of the scientific contents and their didactic preparation in modules for school lessons. 

The video clips, which are produced as a coherent series similar to a docu-soap, link the non-scientific topic of tattooing, digital humanities, culinary history and cooking via their setting in a tattoo studio. In ten episodes, scientists and tattoo artists talk about a variety of topics ranging from visualization methods and the transmission of sources to historical cooking recipes and interesting facts about tattooing. 

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Tattoo artist and scientist in conversation

Target groups

First and foremost, the science-communicative preparation of culinary-historical content and DH methods is intended to reach young people whose environment is not primarily to be classified as university-affiliated: they are to be given an offer that they can accept independently and voluntarily. The primary target group is assumed to be adolescents or young adults in the 16-30 age group who come from social strata far removed from the university. The focus is on a target group that cannot be reached by conventional scholarly communication measures. Specifically, the products created in the project will be tested with the team of the youth center ‚Dietrichskeusch’n‘ in Graz in the context of open youth work for their suitability for everyday use. The youth center is open for 12 to 26 year olds, the focus of the users is on 16-21 year olds. With the planned measures, this target group should learn more about the work of scientists at a university in general and about aspects of research in the humanities in particular, since the meaning of research in the humanities in particular is often questioned. Science Ink is intended to imbue the university and research with positive emotions among a population group that will in the future help finance this institution and its tasks, and ideally to arouse their curiosity about the research content. Of course, this also works beyond this target group.

This alignment was chosen for several reasons: 

  1. Scholarly communication usually focuses on an audience that is willing to engage with the content, that is interested in science and research of its own accord. Those groups that do not have this interest or are not aware of what is on offer are often not reached – but it is precisely these groups that need to be informed about university research and won over to lifelong learning. 
  2. Research results from the field of historical culinary arts are relatively easy to communicate, since this touches on topics (history, food, nutrition) that play a concrete role in the lives of the recipients. Research methods, on the other hand, present a challenge in terms of communication! In Science Ink, we therefore try to convey research methods in a lively way that creates interest in them. Whenever possible, the combination with the culinary-historical aspects of the research project is placed in the center, so that the continuous use of computer-aided research in a highly technological world like ours can serve as a bridge in the mediation. 
  3. In general, a medially staged, contemporary preparation of culinary-historical contents as well as the associated research methods in the form of video clips is a desideratum. The videos developed in this project will form the basis for many other scholarly communication ventures. The creation of high quality content is the main focus.

By creating video clips as the primary output in the planned project, which are published via YouTube, it is conceptually possible to reach multiple target groups. The videos are open to an unlimited number of (young) people. Meanwhile, video clips are far better at conveying content and are more likely to be consumed outside of events than, for example, handouts or brochures. By cutting the serial videos into the individual content clips, they can be used without the experimental combination of the scientific topics with tattooing and thus reach an audience beyond the actual target group. The preparation of the scientific content is thus also available in other didactic settings, such as in university teaching or in schools. 

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Information visualization in the form of a graph

Project output

An essential factor of the planned project is the extremely wide range of products that are planned as output. These can only be realized within the given framework because the corresponding competences at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz have grown over the last years, because existing cooperations can be connected, and because preliminary work from the associated project and other activities of the individual project participants can be built upon. The topics dealt with, as well as the recipes developed from the historical tradition, result from the many years of experience in the teaching of medieval culinary arts within the framework of the association KuliMA – Culinary Middle Ages at the University of Graz or from the professional experience of the staff in research and teaching. Since there is well-founded previous knowledge and partly existing elaborations (contents of lectures, recipes) to fall back on, the preparation of the research methods with the help of the historical topic and the implementation in the new media formats are in the center of the project Science Ink. The work within Science Ink will therefore focus on selecting and preparing the content for the different formats and enriching it with format-specific illustrative material (graphics, animations, images, source texts, translations, etc.). The planned extensive output is only possible because all participants have excellent qualifications both in their fields of work and in scholarly communication.

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Blanc manger according to an interpretation of a medieval recipe

Video series

The video series is produced under professional conditions with professional equipment and created in the usual media formats for online and offline use. The series will be published on YouTube at regular intervals (e.g. weekly, at a fixed time) and promoted accordingly via social media. Due to the planned length of around 10 minutes, the films should be preferred by the algorithm behind them in suggestions and searches, thus gaining greater reach. For the social media channels, footage from the preparations and filming will be processed into short videos: This is project documentation, but also appetizers for the online community. Professional and economic conditions were created through the creation of scripts and the detailed preparation of props and filming locations. The tattoo studio Soul Shelter in Landshut (Bavaria), the kitchen of the Open Lab and the offices of the participating scientists in Graz serve as filming locations. The videos are aimed at a young target audience with the help of editing, coloring, inserts, etc. German and English subtitles will be added to the entire video output so that the videos can be consumed without sound (e.g. on public transport) and across language barriers.

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A tattoo design is applied

Online Game

The online application is developed based on Unity, a very popular runtime and development environment for games. „Tiny Mode“ is a template in Unity that allows to implement lightweight web games in the Unity editor that are very scalable in performance and screen size. This makes it relatively easy to implement simple games on the desktop and especially on mobile devices.  

In the game, the kitchen boy Hanns has to move through different jump’n’run levels and collect ingredients to be able to prepare certain dishes for the wedding of the king’s son. Ingredients as well as recipes are enriched with culinary-historical background information.

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Hanns decides to go on an adventure trip

Didactic module

In order to be able to use the resulting media offerings effectively and sustainably in institutional teaching and learning contexts, accompanying didactic materials will be designed in the second half of the project term (12 months were planned, but the term has doubled due to pandemic-related delays), thus opening up a further target group for scholarly communication. Five thematic learning modules (language and literature, religion, medicine, kitchen practice, digital methods) with a focus on secondary level II, a collection of materials for teachers as well as the intensive linking with already existing didactic offers will be created. 

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Transcription in science video

Website

A website serves as a link between the individual media and content areas, where all the results of the project can be accessed: https://science-ink.uni-graz.at/. 

Cooperation partner

  • Marco Reif runs the full-service video production company UNREIF.UND.TAUBE|bewegtbildproduktion, which offers all steps of film production from research, conception, text, production, sound recording, color correction and post-production. In addition to producing content for various radio stations, he is particularly specialized in online, as well as social media content. Marco Reif is responsible for the conception and creation of the various video products at Science Ink. 
  • Fritz Treiber is a scholarly communicator at the Taste Laboratory of the University of Graz with a focus on A/V media. He supports the media conception and supervises the content implementation of the video clips.
  • The youth center Dietrichskeusch’n is the oldest youth center in Graz. Many of the young people who take advantage of the youth center’s services come from educationally and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. One of the tasks in the care is to bridge this disadvantage within the framework of the offer. Team members of the Dietrichskeusch’n will accompany the creation of the videos and support them in relation to the primary target group. In the course of the publication, a public viewing will take place in the youth center, where the reactions of the young people to the video series will be indicators for the success of the implementation. 
  • Martin Amschl is the operator of Soul Shelter Tattoo Studio (Instagram) in Landshut (Bavaria) since 2014. He came to tattooing in the mid-1990s while studying art history, completed the then required advanced training, exams and practice hours in tattooing in Graz tattoo studios in addition to his artistic training (2000/2001 master student plastic shaping / sculpture at the HTBLA Ortweinplatz with Erwin Talker). He gained in-depth experience, as is customary for tattoo artists, during extended trips abroad with visits to tattoo conventions and stays with internationally renowned tattoo artists in Brussels, Bruges, Hamburg, New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm. From his self-image as a tattoo artist, he continued and continues to actively advocate for the improvement of standards in tattooing and also takes on social issues (eg 24-hour tattoo marathon for the Children’s Cancer Aid Bavaria). For Science Ink he provides his business premises for the filming and takes over the part of the tattoo artist in the video series.
  • The university association KuliMA – Culinary Middle Ages at the University of Graz is enthusiastic about the ‚culinary Middle Ages‘ in the broadest sense. It is composed of students and teachers of the Karl-Franzens-University Graz as well as other interested people from outside the university. Experience from the various activities of the association, such as cooking together according to original medieval recipes, the holding of workshops and training courses in the broad field of medieval kitchen practice, the communication of culinary-historical knowledge to the general public and cultural consulting are incorporated into the Science Ink project.

Publication

The YouTube video series and the accompanying materials for the individual episodes will be released in the fall/winter. The release will be accompanied via the usual social media channels. 

This article is licensed under the following license: CC-BY 4.0. When reusing, please include the attribute rel=“canonical“ in the link to the original post!

How to cite this Article: Klug, Helmut W. (2021): „Science Ink – Scholarly communication off the track“. In: Kolodzie, Lisa, Schumacher, Mareike, Seltmann, Melanie and Brenn, Daniel (eds.): Public Humanities. https://publicdh.hypotheses.org/385.


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