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Alie Lassche

Visitor Testimonial

Alie Lassche (website)

Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

I am Alie Lassche, a third-year PhD student in Dutch History at Leiden University (NL), interested in computational text analysis, (and rarely not talking about biking). I have a background in Dutch literature and culture, and have been specializing in the use of computational methods to analyze text. My PhD research is embedded in the project ‘Chronicling Novelty. New knowledge in the Netherlands, 1500-1850’, in which a corpus of early modern Dutch chronicles is used to get insight in the way in which middle class people deal with new knowledge and information. In my own project, I study the sources and events chroniclers use and describe, and I use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods for that.

For more than three months, I have been a guest researcher at the Center for Humanities Computing, part of the IMC. Together with Kristoffer Nielbo (head of CHC) and Jan Kostkan (developer at CHC), we did a project on event detection in early modern chronicles. Our different backgrounds have resulted in a very fruitful collaboration: we combined the recent developments in language modelling and computational humanities with domain knowledge of early modern Dutch culture and texts to learn about whether chronicles describe some events and are silent about the others.

What were some highlights of your experience at the Interacting Minds Centre?

There were many highlights during my stay in Aarhus, but the ones related to IMC all have to do with food. As a big fan of eating, it was amazing to discover the existence of the weekly IMC brunch, and the lively lunch culture at IMC. After two years of mainly working from home because of the pandemic, it was a relief to finally have lunch mates and lunch conversations again. Apart from the delicious bread at the Wednesday brunches and the fresh food in the canteen, these meals were also a great opportunity to get to know the IMC and its researchers better. Because people have such varied backgrounds and specializations, conversations were always informative, inspiring, and entertaining. 

What has the stay at Aarhus University meant for you and your research?

I dare to say that my stay at Aarhus University, and especially at the Center for Humanities Computing, has been pivotal in my PhD-trajectory. When I was still at home, I wanted to visit a research group where I could further develop my computational skills. The CHC turned out to be the perfect place for that: from the first day on, I felt very welcome, and it was a very motivational environment for me to develop new skills, learn about new methods, and get introduced to new tools. I believe that this together has taken my research to the next level, and I am very thankful to Kristoffer, Jan, and all the other CHC-colleagues for their part in that.

Apart from that, being away from my home town and my home university also gave me the opportunity to figure some things out about how I want my post-PhD research and life to look like. One of the conclusions is that having colleagues that are as crazy about biking as yourself is a major green flag.

What advice would you give future visitors?

Go get as many (free) food and drinks as you can when at IMC, because they often come along with great conversations.