Research Uncovered—Nicholas Cole and Alfie Abdul Rahman on the Quill Project


Howard Chandler Christy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,

What: Quill Project: Constitutions and other Negotiated Texts

Who: Nicholas Cole and Alfie Abdul Rahman

When: 13.00—14.00, Tuesday 1 March 2016

Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Booking: registration is required

The Quill platform is a new project to facilitate research into the process by which committees negotiate texts, especially in the context of constitutional conventions and legislative assemblies.  The initial project is based around the records of the 1787 Constitutional Convention that produced the Constitution of the United States, and the Quill platform aims to transcend traditional narrative accounts by presenting users with a more detailed and intuitive reconstruction of the process of negotiation.  We will present both the historical problems that this platform aims to address, and the approaches that we have adopted in building the Quill system.

Nicholas Cole is a Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College Oxford, specializing in the history of political thought and American Constitutional History. He read Ancient and Modern History at University College, Oxford, where he also completed an M.Phil. in Greek and Roman History and a D.Phil on the use of the Classics by Thomas Jefferson’s generation of politicians.  He has held visiting Fellowships at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, where he worked on the role of the Supreme Court in the Early Republic, and a Junior Research Fellow at St Peter’s College, where he worked ideas of Executive Power in ante-bellum America, and has held various teaching positions.  He is currently working with the National Archives on an AHRC bid which will use the Quill Platform to present the records of the Versailles Treaty to a wider audience in time for the 2019 anniversary of its signing.

Alfie Abdul-Rahman is a Research Associate at the Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford. She has been involved with the Imagery Lenses for Visualizing Text Corpora and Commonplace Cultures: Mining Shared Passages in the 18th Century using Sequence Alignment and Visual Analytics, developing web-based visualization tools for humanities scholars, such as Poem Viewer and ViTA: Visualization for Text Alignment. She completed her PhD in Computer Science at Swansea University, focusing on the physically-based rendering and algebraic manipulation of volume models. Before joining Oxford, she worked as a Research Engineer in HP Labs Bristol on document engineering, and then as a software developer in London, working on multi-format publishing.

Access: If you have a University or Bodleian Reader’s card, you can get to the Centre for Digital Scholarship through the Mackerras Reading Room on the first floor of the Weston Library, around the gallery. If you do not have access to the Weston Library you are more than welcome to attend the talk: please contact Pip Willcox before the event (

You can download a flyer for this talk.

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