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Digital Humanities in Theory

Series iconThe Digital Humanities in Theory features five of the most innovative thinkers on the changing nature of humanities scholarship.

  • Jeffrey Schnapp, Director of MetaLAB (at) Harvard
  • Ted Striphas, Communication and Culture. Indiana University
  • Alex Galloway, NYU, author of The Interface Effect (2012)
  • John Palfrey, Chair, Steering Committee, Digital Public Library of America
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communications, MLA
  • William Noel, Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania

The Digital Humanities are changing the nature of scholarship inthe humanities and raising new questions about what counts as scholarship. It allows humanists to ask new questions of traditional subjects. It creates new objects that beg for humanist interpretation. And it provides radical new tools for scholarship that raise questions about what humanities research is and should be.

This series of lectures features five of the most innovative thinkers about the Digital Humanities today and offers a fresh look at what humanities scholarship looks like in the digital age.

Of Related Interest: Penn's Digital Humanities Forum

Speaker portraitJeffrey Schnapp, Harvard

Teaching (design) Thinking

Tuesday, November 6
4:00–5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Director of metaLAB (at) Harvard and Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society

What happens to humanistic scholarship in the print-plus or post-print era? What does it mean to envisage a world where the form that scholarly knowledge assumes is no longer a given and every work of scholarship is engaged in imagining and codifying new genres of scholarly communication? This talk will address these questions from the perspective of recent experiences and experiments at metaLAB (at) Harvard.

SpeakerTed Striphas, Indiana University

"An Infernal Culture Machine":
Intellectual Foundations of Algorithmic Culture

Wednesday, November 7
4:00–5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Associate Professor of Communication and Culture at Indiana University and Fellow of the University of Denver Institute for the Digital Humanities

The idea of culture has changed dramatically over the last sixty years, stretching its meaning in ways that may not yet be able to grasp fully or articulate eloquently. This talk traces that shift to culture's encounter with cybernetic theory, a body of research whose central concern is the process of communication and control in complex systems. The main focus of this talk is the prevailing sociological and anthropological literature on culture of postwar America, particularly that of the third quarter of the 20th century. The writings of Talcott Parsons and Clifford Geertz are exemplary in this regard, but an individual lesser known to the human sciences figures prominently here as well: the termite scientist Alfred. E. Emerson, whose influence on Parsons' conceptualization of culture was particularly deep and abiding. I intend to show how, within this constellation of work, we can begin to register the historical rudiments of what, in our own time, has coalesced into the phenomenon of "algorithmic culture," or the use of computational processes to sort, classify, and hierarchize people, places, objects, and ideas.


Speaker portraitAlex Galloway, NYU

The Unworkable Interface

Tuesday, November 13
4:00–5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

Interfaces are back, or perhaps they never left. The familiar Socratic conceit from the “Phaedrus” of communication as the process of writing directly on the soul of the other has, since the 1980s and ‘90s, returned to center stage in the discourse around culture and media. Windows, doors, airport gates and other thresholds are those transparent devices that achieve more the less they do: for every moment of virtuosic immersion and connectivity, for every moment of inopacity, the threshold becomes one notch more invisible, one notch more inoperable. This lecture examines the interface, what Gérard Genette called a “zone of indecision” between the inside and outside of media. What is a computer interface and how does it structure interaction, work, and play?

Digital Humanities in Theory

Marcus Bingenheimer, Temple University
Rachael Buurma, Swarthmore College
Robert Cheetham, Azavea
Katherine Rowe, Bryn Mawr College

Digital Humanities Workshop

Tuesday, November 27
4:30–6:00 pm, CHAT Lounge

Speaker portraitJohn Palfrey, Harvard

Wednesday, February 6
4:00–5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Chair, Steering Committee of the Digital Public Library of America, and Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover

John Palfrey chairs the steering committee of the Digital Public Library of America. In his invitational lecture, he will describe the ambitious, public-spirited effort to establish a national digital library in the United States. The DPLA brings together thousands of people from diverse backgrounds who share a vision of an enduring national resource where all Americans can access our cultural heritage resources, free to all.

Speaker portraitKathleen Fitzpatrick, Pomona College

Thursday, March 7
4:00–5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Director of Scholarly Communication
at the Modern Language Association,
and Professor of Media Studies at Pomona College

Digital technologies have rapidly changed the landscape of scholarly publishing, and they've equally changed the ways that scholars themselves engage with their work. This talk explores a few of those changes as they have begun to affect the humanities, including the new roles being played by scholarly societies in today's communication environment.

Speaker portraitWilliam Noel
University of Pennsylvania

Free and Easy: The Appearance of Truly Useful Cultural Heritage Data

Thursday, April 25
4:00-5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Director of the Special Collections Center, and Founding Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania

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