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Summer School

11 July 2022 - 15 July 2022

10:00AM - 5:00PM

Durham University

  • Free to Groningen, Uppsala, DU students/ External applicant please see Info above for details

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Things That Matter 2022. Material and Culture in/for the Digital Age Deadline for Applications 28.03.2022

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Summer School 2022

11th July 2022, 09:00 to 15th July 2022, 17:00,
Durham University
Dates & location 11 – 15 July 2022, Durham, UK
Level MA/PhD
Academic coordinators
Professor Mikael Alm (University of Uppsala)
Professor Raingard Esser (University of Groningen)
Professor Graeme Small (Durham University)


“Things that Matter” addresses the tension between the materiality of sources and their digitization. The recent advances of digital technology have created new modes of reproduction and forms of consumption that have substantially reshaped the concepts of ‘object’ and of ‘collection’ at the heart of cultural institutions such as libraries and museums.

The Summer School engages with key questions that arise from the study of the past in the digital age. These issues include the changing nature of objects such as books and scientific instruments as source materials; the history and practice of collections and collecting, digitization and its challenges, both technological and intellectual. “Things that Matter” maps the possibilities and challenges posed by the digital age for researchers. The ongoing process of digitization makes sources of the past available to a previously unknown extent: but what does this mean for researchers?

We will also discuss the role of objects in Public History. How does society approach the legacy of “things” in museums and heritage institutions? Which objects are “worth keeping”, why and when?

Who determines the selection process and what are the selection criteria for curators, archivists and other agents in the sector? What collections are digitized and why those? Who makes the selections? How do we meet scientific demands on systematic design and transparency when working on online search engines and on differing (and sometimes incompatible) designs of data bases?

The Summer School is developed in collaboration with related Masters programmes at Durham, Groningen, and Uppsala. These programmes offer interdisciplinary and cross-chronological approaches to the study of the societies and cultures in the premodern and early modern world. This eighth edition of the summer school is hosted by Durham University, UK.

Things that Matter 2022 may also be taken as an online course by students across the world. Teaching will be organised in a hybrid format using Meeting OWL equipment, and sessions will be recorded for asynchronous viewing where necessary. Online students will also be given access to the course materials made available on a Blackboard site hosted by Groningen University, to which you will be given access. The cost for participating in the online course is £125. Further inquiries regarding the online course can be directed to Professor Graeme Small,


This school is intended for Masters students and PhD students working in the disciplines of History, Art History, Museum and Heritage Studies, and Cultural Studies broadly intended. Students should be studying at Taught or Research Masters level or should be working on a PhD project.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Course information

The Summer School brings together experts from both academia and the cultural heritage sector. Over the course of one week of intensive teaching, they will deliver lectures, lead seminars and hands- on sessions, supervise student-led projects and presentations.

The summer school programme will run from 11 – 15 July 2022, inclusive.

The summer school is preceded by a non-compulsory, online module starting after Easter. If you wish to take part in this element, please contact Professors Alm and Raingard directly.

Please note that students participating in the online Summer School scheduled for 11-15 July do not have the option to participate in the separate online module which precedes it.

Learning outcomes

After this course you will be able to:

- assess and to apply different theories and approaches, particularly in Digital Humanities Research, to your own research;

- work in an international team during an intense study week.

- present your own research and to comment constructively on research of your peers.

The workload is estimated at 30 hours of teaching and learning activities over the course of one week (Monday-Friday). Typically, the Summer School will consist of lectures, hands-on sessions and excursions and student-led group work.


Actively participate in all components of the Summer School. All participants must demonstrate that they have digested and analysed the reading for each component of the Summer School

  1. Present their own group research in progress or research design in an oral presentation which is made at the end of the week, and then in written form within one month of the school finishing
  2. Write a short essay in which they critically discuss the themes of the Summer School in relation to their own research one month after the school finishes.
  3. Write a SWOT analysis of the Summer School in which they reflect critically on their learning experience one month after the summer school finishes


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Free to Groningen, Uppsala, DU students/ External applicant please see Info above for details