Providing resources and trai­ning in the practices and tools of the digital humanities

Keynote talks


The Network Inside Out and the New Digital Humanities

Friday, September 12th | 4:30 p.m.

Steven Jones, Professor of English & Co-director of the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, Loyola University, Chicago

The rise to prominence of the Digital Humanities in the past decade can be understood as a response to a simultaneous shift in the collective imagination of the digital network. What was once understood to be a transcendent virtual reality apart from the body and the physical environment is now experienced as if it had turned inside out and spilled out into the physical world, a ubiquitous mesh of data and connections to data that we move through every day. This topological shift in the way we figure the network--what author William Gibson has called the eversion of cyberspace--has important implications for the theory and practice of the humanities, calling for a heightened critical attention to the social, locative, embodied, and object-oriented nature of our experience in the networked world.


Learning from Constraints in Visualizations of Information

Saturday, September 13th​ | 9 a.m.

Isabel Meirelles, Associate Professor, Graphic Design, Northeastern University

Visualizations have been part of both humanistic and scientific knowledge production and dissemination for quite a long time. In recent years, however, its use has risen exponentially, fueled in part by the need to extract meaning from huge amounts of information and our inabilities to make sense of data without the aid of external devices. The result is that information visualizations have gained unprecedented prominence and we experience a burgeoning practice of visualizing information in all corners of academia, which includes visual systems and representational tools tailored to humanistic inquiry. It is indisputable that they can and often act as cognitive devices whether aimed at communicating information or for exploration and analyzes of data. Much has been discussed about the benefits offered by visual representations of information. In this talk, I will present the other side of this story and examine several specific constraints imposed on and by visualizations. By means of a series of examples, I will elucidate their capabilities by scrutinizing their limitations. I would like to argue that, though powerful by nature, information visualizations should not serve all research problems uniformly. Ultimately, my goal is to open a conversation about how we can employ information visualizations as research tools in a more critical manner.


Networks In and Of Society

Saturday, September 13th | 4 p.m.

Scott Weingart, PhD Candidate, Indiana University

Networks are increasingly invoked in the humanities and computational social sciences both metaphorically and formally to interrogate ourselves. Simultaneously, individuals, corporations, and governments employ networks as a means to prestige, profit, and power. When in 1696 Leibniz compared the scientific method to putting nature "on the rack," he was not literally connecting torture to evidence gathering. In the intervening centuries, however, the metaphor has become frighteningly apt. Network analysis, an ostensibly scientific method, is used to justify targeting of terrorists and is instrumental in inferring private lives from public sharing. This lecture will address the relationship between networks and the digital humanities; what DH can learn from network analysis elsewhere; and importantly, how DH can contribute to these broader ethical discussions. Indeed, if we do not contribute our ethical concerns to the discussion, it is unclear who will.


Follow Us
Come to our collaborative research tornado on October 24 and find collaborators for our $15,000 digital humanities seed grants.
Lauren Kersey - Less is More: The Pursuit of Gestalts in Minimalism and Knowledge Discovery... Lauren Kersey, Saint Louis University Less is More: The Pursuit of Gestalts in Minimalism and Knowledge Discovery in Databases Graduate Paper, Digital Humanities Forum 2014: Nodes & Networks in the Humanities. University of Kansas September 13, 2014 http://idrh.ku.edu/dhforum2014/ -- As cultural marketplaces become increasingly saturated and fragmented, new forms emerge to compress, sort, and efficiently deliver messages. Minimalism, from the visual arts, and Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD), from the computer sciences, developed in tandem in response to this common pressure. This paper links these two movements from their origins to the present day to show how KDD appropriates principles and design elements from minimalism for competing purposes. Minimalism developed in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. These works countered what they saw as consumerist impulses fueled by subjective forms of self-expression. Donald Judd’s arrays of freestanding boxes typify this movement. They reduce expression to essential conditions: the expressive object’s internal relationships involving basic materials, proportions, and the arrangement of simple geometric figures like lines and planes along with the object’s interactions with external elements like light and viewers’ positions within surrounding space. Around the same time computer scientists invented integrated circuit-chips and microprocessors that facilitated networks of personal computers. This Web accelerated the output and the fragmentation of human expression to such a degree that traditional centers of control struggled to monitor and regulate increasingly niche sub-communities. Thus, marketing firms became early investors in KDD: the process of discovering and displaying useful knowledge from large volumes of data. Since then, humanists have adapted KDD to condense literary corpuses into essential patterns and models. Specifically, KDD applies frequency thresholds to identify a corpus’s essential lexical materials. Analysts then identify the unique proportions of these materials by comparing one corpus to another through classification or clustering algorithms. Finally, the interpretive stage represents these essential materials and proportions as simple geometric shapes. Like minimalist art, KDD aims to be literal and holistic. Consider either Donald Judd’s boxes or a multidimensional, cube-shaped graph that reduces novels to data points. Its purpose is not to express the creator’s internal psychology or an external reality beyond the factual existence of the basic conditions for that aesthetic object itself. Both projects are holistic in that they suppress detail to pursue what Robert Morris called the gestalt: objects that “offer maximum resistance to perceptual separation” which force viewers to see the whole before or in synchrony with individual parts. In so doing, viewers account for individual relationships, later changes, and their own subjective roles in the object’s manifestation. Viewers who walk around Judd’s boxes are aware of their limited and shifting viewpoints because they have a preexisting image of the object in its abstract entirety. Analysts who condense literary history into gestalts are aware of their limited and shifting positions because they have a preexisting image of literary history in its abstract entirety. By surveying Franco Moretti, Matthew Jockers, and Google’s Ngram Viewer, this paper explores how KDD’s capitalist and anti-capitalist heritage influences these projects. In particular, it asks whether their visuals allow viewers to interact and experiment with the complicated networks that make up literature and culture or whether they disempower communities by presenting these conditions as empirical, constant, and impermeable.


Home to 50+ departments, centers, and programs, the School of the Arts, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration
KU offers courses in 40 languages
Graduates of the College have won Emmys, discovered new species, and been named to Forbes' "most powerful women" lists
No. 1 ranking in city management and urban policy —U.S. News and World Report
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
1 of 9 public universities with outstanding study abroad programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA