Report of the Seminar on Network Research, held on 3 March 2017



On Friday 3rd March 2017, SocHistColl held its first seminar, opened to members and non-members alike. The topical theme focussed a new methodological avenue fostered by an increasing use of digital tools in the Humanities: researching networks and visualising them.

Prof. Koen Brosens from Leuven University (KU Leuven) came with two of his PhD students to show our group of 20 participants how they had conceived and developed ‘Project Cornelia/ Coral’, an international and interdisciplinary project to support and foster the study of ‘the interplay between social dynamics/ networks on the one hand, and artistic developments on the other’. They explained their methodological and ethical approach to developing digital visual resources in order to help further our understanding of the Tapestry and painting industries in Brussels and Antwerp in the 17th century.

While the first part of the seminar was devoted to an introduction to the project and insight into how it works, the second part of the seminar was led by Dr. Mark Westgarth (University of Leeds) who acted as respondent. Drawing from his experience as project manager on a database devoted to the 20th century British antiques art trade (, Dr. Westgarth discussed the intellectual discourse which underpins the ‘digital turn’ which pushes historians and art historians alike to seek total and accurate History through the use of digital tools. He opposed quantitative data mining to the layered ‘historical fabric’ which produces multiple discourses.

A lively discussion ensued which allowed the participants to weigh the usefulness of digital tools to research networks, and how to go about using them. The discussion ended up with considerations on future practices with a glass of wine, and nibbles.

For more information on Project Cornelia/ Coral:

We want to hear from you: if you are interested in a particular subject linked to the History of Collecting and would like to organise a seminar, please let us know! Contact:


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