Past Activities

Eleonora presented her research at the special summer meeting of The Magic Lantern Society in Scheveningen, Den Haag, which took place on 15 and 16 June. She presented ‘All Roads Lead to… Brussels’, an analysis of the political travelogues of former Brussels’ mayor Charles Buls (1837-1914).

Thomas and Eleonora presented a long paper together at the DH Benelux 2024 conference held in Leuven from 5 to 7 June. They presented their paper ‘Optimizing Multimodal Clustering (of 10,000 magic lantern slides)’ in the ‘Computer Vision’ session. For those eager to explore their findings further, the abstract is readily available on Zenodo:!

Eleonora co-organized a two-day academic workshop in April on ‘Performing Magnetism in the Long Nineteenth Century: Transnational Perspectives’. The workshop sparked the development of a book publication, which is currently in progress, and led to the formation of the network Fabula Velata. For more information about the network, please contact Eleonora at

Eleonora’s review of Sylvia Alting van Geusau’s and Ester Wouthuysen’s Kunstzinnig vermaak in Amsterdam. Het Panoramagebouw in de Plantage 1880-1935 was published in The Journal for Media History (TMG) on 30 December 2023. Check out the full review here:

Lith gave a lightning talk titled “Night tactics. Gender and the creation of the modern urban night from a data-driven perspective (Antwerp, 1870-1940)” at CHR2023, which took place in Paris between 6 and 8 December. Check out the full conference programme here:

Our team member Paavo was interviewed on his research for the occasion of Sinterklaas (a traditional holiday celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium) by Antwerp University magazine Stroom. Check out the full article here:

Eleonora focused on the occult side of magic lantern performances at the Occultism and Popular Culture in Europe conference in Copenhagen, which took place on 22 and 23 November 2023. Her lecture titled ‘Spectacular Spectres: The Magic Lantern and the Projection of Ghosts in Fin-de-siècle Popular Culture’ provided an overview of the occult in the magic lantern slides of the biggest slide database worldwide, Lucerna. Check out for more information about the conference.

Our team member Eleonora was interviewed on her research by Antwerp University magazine Stroom. Check out the full article here: .

Eleonora presented at the DARK WEEKends arts and science festival at Gent Universiteitsmuseum on 29 October 2023. She focused on the macabre side of magic lantern technology by taking the audience on a journey from lantern performances inspired by the bloody French Revolution to late-nineteenth-century recollections of spooky English folktales and legends. Two colleagues from the Science at the Fair project also presented their research during the DARK breakfast. For more information about the event, feel free to check out these links: and

On Friday 20 October, Eleonora gave a presentation on the ‘clash’ between distant viewing and close viewing in her research. Her talk was part of the Doctoral Conference Day of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Antwerp. Check out the programme here: Read her abstract below to get a better idea of the presentation’s content: The digital is gaining more ground in the humanities and is now almost indispensable in a lot of PhD research. Within the digital humanities, the field of computer vision is still relatively small compared to textual analysis but proves promising for exploring large collections of visual data. This so-called ‘distant viewing’ still needs to be complemented by thorough close reading, or rather ‘close viewing’. The skills to deal with the contrasting methods of distant viewing and close viewing, however, are not yet widely included in the curriculum. For many researchers, such as myself, this is thus a new balancing act one must learn through trial and error. At this doctoral conference, I would like to discuss the opportunities and pitfalls that accompany digital humanities research, specifically focused on finding the right balance between practices such as ‘distant viewing’ and ‘close viewing’.

On 13 October 2023, Lith presented some preliminary results of her research on social dynamics in modernising cities at night at the International Night Studies Conference in Lisbon. She, in particular, talked about the use of local police reports for the study of gender relations on street level in nocturnal Antwerp between 1870 and 1940. Take a look at the programme here: or follow the hashtag #icnslx23 on social media.

Eleonora participated in the first edition of the Arts & Media Archaeology Summer School at the University of Antwerp (4 – 8 September 2023). On Thursday, she presented her project in the form of a poster. Check it out below to get a quick insight into her research and get an idea of the summer school’s programme by checking out their website: .

Eleonora presented a new and exciting avenue in her research, namely the representation of fantastical worlds in magic lantern slides, at the European Magic History Conference 2023 on 26 August in Ghent. Her presentation focused on the magic lantern performances of analytical chemist George R. Tweedie, more specifically on his ‘gossip’ about ghosts and fairies. Various members of the SciFair project, which studies science on the nineteenth-century fairground, also presented parts of their research.

Lith, Thomas, Paavo and Eleonora all presented about the Bias in History project at the DH Graz 2023 conference. They presented the following papers; Lith presented her poster ‘Towards a datafication of Antwerp street life? Co-creating a dataset of 100.000+ pages of handwritten police reports (1876-1945)’ on 12 July. Paavo presented his paper ‘Viewing Between the Lines: Representation of Age, Race, Class and Gender in the Illustrations of Dutch-Language Children’s Literature (1800-1940)’ on 13 July and, finally, Eleonora presented Thomas’ and her paper ‘A Model of Heaven: Tracing Images of Holiness in a Collection of 63.000 Lantern Slides (1880-1940)’ on 14 July. Mike and Thomas also presented on other research topics. Check out the full conference programme here: and rewatch Paavo’s presentation on illustrated children’s literature here:…/pla…/UGxhbm5pbmdfMTQxNDE1Mg== and Eleonora’s presentation on magic lantern slides here: .

Paavo, Lith, Thomas, Mike and Eleonora all attended the DH Benelux 2023 Conference in the Royal Library of Brussels which took place between 31 May and 2 June 2023. Paavo presented the short paper “Thinking Outside of the Bounding Box: A Reconsideration of the Application of Computational Tools on Uncertain Humanities Data” on 1 June. Eleonora and Thomas chaired sessions on, respectively, Literary Studies and History. Mike also presented a long paper on a different research topic. Want to know more about the cutting-edge digital humanities research that was presented at the conference? Check out the conference programme and abstracts here: .

Eleonora and Thomas both attended and presented at the Redefining the Region conference at the University of Nijmegen. Eleonora presented her paper “A Slide of Heaven. Representations of the Holy Land in Magic Lantern Performances” on 11 January 2023. To follow updates on the Representing the Region project, take a look at their socials: .

Post from the Facebook page of Redefining the Region ( (posted on 13 January 2023)

On 30 September 2022, Lith presented her paper “Righting Wrongs: Attempts to train an HTR model for 100.000 handwritten police records (1976-1945)” at the Transkribus User Conference 2022. Find out more about her data-driven method in this video of her presentation:

Video titled “Righting Wrongs: Training a HTR model for 100.000 handwritten police records | Lith Lefranc #TUC22” uploaded by Transkribus on 12 October 2022.

Kurt and Eleonora both presented at the International Federation for Theatre Research World Congress in Reykjavik. The conference, with the theme Shifting Centres (In the Middle of Nowhere), took place between 20 and 24 June 2022. Our researchers were part of the joint panel “The Magic Lantern in the Limelight: Amusement, Politics, Science and the Occult”. On Thursday 23 June, Kurt and Eleonora respectively presented the long presentations “The Magic Lantern: Itinerant Showpeople and the Performance of Science” and “Politicians on the Stage: Charles Buls and the Resurrection of the Past”.

Lith, Paavo, Thomas and Eleonora all attended and presented at the DH Benelux 2022 conference in Belval (31 May – 3 June 2022). Lith presented her long paper “Understanding historical bias through data-driven methods. Digitisation and data enrichment of 100.000 pages of handwritten police reports” (Lith Lefranc, Ilja Van Damme and Mike Kestemont) on 1 June. Thomas and Eleonora presented their short paper “A clash of colorful worlds. Distant viewing the use of color in Western visual representations of the orient and occident, 1890- 1920” (Thomas Smits, Melvin Wevers and Eleonora Paklons) on 2 June. On that same day, Thomas and Paavo presented their short paper “Familiar Stories: Using CLIP to Extract and Analyze Images of the Family in Dutch-Language Children’s Books, 1800-1940” (Thomas Smits, Vanessa Joosen, Paavo Van der Eecken). Mike also presented on other research topics at the conference.

Kurt, Thomas and Eleonora presented at the Final Conference of the B-Magic project, which took place between 5 and 7 May 2022. In a joint panel, they presented Eleonora’s work packages within the Bias in History project. Rewatch their presentation here to get a general idea of Eleonora’s research and Thomas’ and Kurt’s input as supervisors:

Video titled “Future Projects (B-magic Final Conference)”, uploaded by UAntwerpen Letteren en Wijsbegeerte on 14 June 2022.

On 18 May 2022, the Bias in History project invited Dr Leonardo Impett to give a public lecture and masterclass regarding the three projects of Lith, Paavo and Eleonora. His public lecture “Computer Vision as Symbolic Form: Art History and Bias in AI”.

In the early days of the project, Paavo, Lith and Eleonora gave poster presentations to communicate about our new research project and connect with researchers working on similar topics. They presented posters at the Faculteitsdag of the University of Antwerp on 22 March 2022 and at the Linked Pasts VII Symposium on 14 December 2022.