UCL News


Spotlight on Dr Louise Seaward

26 April 2016

This week the spotlight is on Dr Louise Seaward, Research Associate, Bentham Project, UCL Laws.

Louise Seaward

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a research associate at the Bentham Project in the UCL Faculty of Laws. The Bentham Project is responsible for producing the scholarly edition of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, the British philosopher who was UCL's intellectual inspiration.

I am the co-ordinator of our digital crowdsourcing initiative, Transcribe Bentham. We invite anyone and everyone to visit our online Transcription Desk and start reading and transcribing Bentham's papers. These volunteer transcripts are used by the Bentham Project in our editorial work and also uploaded to an open access digital repository.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been working at UCL for just over a year. I finished a PhD in French History at the University of Leeds in 2013 and, after that, spent time doing bits of teaching at various universities.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I am proud of getting my position at the Bentham Project!

It is my first full-time academic job and it has been great to have the chance to learn more about Bentham's philosophy, as well as scholarly editing and digital humanities.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Transcribe Bentham is now part of an exciting project that is training computers to read handwritten historical manuscripts The Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents (READ) project is developing cutting-edge technologies including handwritten text recognition, keyword spotting and writer identification.

These technologies will allow the automatic recognition, transcription and searching of historical documents. This will make it much easier for researchers and members of the public to access the information contained in all sorts of archives and collections.

Transcribe Bentham will be an important testing ground for the handwritten text recognition technology. We are hopeful that computers can help our volunteer transcribers to decipher Bentham's notoriously difficult handwriting!

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I have spent many hours singing along in my bedroom to The Queen is Dead by The Smiths.

I like to think I'm practising my French by watching films. L'Argent de Poche is one of my favourites but it's one of those films where nothing much happens…

My favourite book is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh-it makes me want to visit the University of Oxford.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What do you call an alligator in a vest?

An investigator.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Bentham would probably have to make an appearance - we have a lot of questions to ask him!

I'd bring some other people back from the 18th century to keep him company around the dinner table: the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep going, you can do it. This advice still applies now!

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I went to Hastings last weekend.

What is your favourite place?

I lived in Paris during my PhD and always love walking around the city.