Computation and the Humanities

Part of the series Springer Series on Cultural Computing pp 209-226

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.


Getting Computers into Humanists’ Thinking: John Bradley and Julianne Nyhan

  • Julianne NyhanAffiliated withDepartment of Information Studies, University College London (UCL)
  • , Andrew FlinnAffiliated withDepartment of Information Studies, University College London (UCL)


This interview took place in Bradley’s office in Drury Lane, King’s College London on 9 September 2014 around 11:30. Bradley was provided with the interview questions in advance. He recalls that his interest in computing started in the early 1960s. As computer time was not then available to him he sometimes wrote out in longhand the FORTRAN code he was beginning to learn from books. One of his earliest encounters with Humanities Computing was the concordance to Diodorus Siculus that he programmed in the late 1970s. The printed concordance that resulted filled the back of a station wagon. The burgeoning Humanities Computing community in Toronto at that time collaborated both with the University of Toronto Computer Services Department (where Bradley was based) and the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, founded by Ian Lancashire. Aware of the small but significant interest in text analysis that existed in Toronto at that time and pondering the implications of the shift from batch to interactive computing he began work as a developer of Text Analysis Computing Tools (TACT). He also recalls his later work on Pliny, a personal note management system, and how it was at least partly undertaken in response to the lack of engagement with computational text analysis he noted among Humanists. In addition to other themes, he reflects at various points during the interview on models of partnership between Academic and Technical experts.