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Conference Information

Full Title: Tutorial: Phylometric and Phylogenetic Methods in the Humanities
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Start Date: 22-Nov-2012 - 23-Nov-2012
Contact: Ruprecht von Waldenfels
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: The analysis of large sets of genetic data with phylogenetic algorithms has a long tradition in biology. In the recent past, these methods have also been gaining increasing importance in the humanities, e.g. linguistics (e.g. Warnow and Nichols 2008; McMahon and McMahon 2005), literary studies (e.g. Windram, Shaw, Robinson and Howe 2008) or anthropology (e.g. Tehrani, Collard and Shennan 2010) where they have been used for the visualisation and analysis of different kinds of data such as comparative word lists, manuscript traditions or other types of cultural artefacts. However, these approaches are seldom compared from an interdisciplinary, methodological perspective.

In order to advance these methods and discuss their application, we are holding a three-day event composed of a tutorial and a workshop.

The tutorial ‘Phylometric and Phylogenetic Approaches in the Humanities’ is designed for doctoral students, post-doc researchers and others who would like to get acquainted with these innovative approaches. The tutorial offers a hands-on introduction to application possibilities of these methods based on data sets from different disciplines. While the focus is on data from linguistics and literary studies, participants from other subject areas are especially welcome since we believe that interdisciplinary exchange on the use of such methods in non-genetic application domains is beneficial for all parties involved.

The tutorial will provide:

- an overview on phylometric approaches in the humanities.
- an introduction to the use of relevant computer programs (Paup, SplitsTree).
- the opportunity to practice the application of the methods by means of prepared data sets.

The tutorial will be followed by a one-day workshop on the same topic on November 24, 2012. Participants in the tutorial are encouraged to attend the workshop as well. The participation is free of charge and made possible by a grant by Bern University’s Mittelbauvereinigung and funding by the Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS).


McMahon and McMahon (2005), Language Classification by Numbers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Nichols and Warnow (2008), Tutorial on Computational Linguistic Phylogeny. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2: 760-820. Windram, Shaw, Robinson, Howe (2008): Dante’s Monarchia as a test case for the use of phylogenetic methods in stemmatic analysis. LLC 23(4): 443-463; Tehrani, Collard and Shennan (2010), The cophylogeny of populations and cultures: reconstructing the evolution of Iranian tribal craft traditions using trees and jungles. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 365(1559): 3865-3874.
Linguistic Subfield: Computational Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
LL Issue: 23.3964

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