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.


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Scott Weingart's closing talk from our Nodes & Networks forum
The moral role of DH in a data-driven world
This is the transcript from my closing keynote address at the 2014 DH Forum in Lawrence, Kansas. It's the result of my conflicted feelings on the recent Facebook emotional contagion controversy, an...

Matt Cohen - Editing Walt Whitman's Marginalia Today: Digital Humanities Methods at the Edge Matt Cohen, UT-Austin Digital Humanities Seminar, University of Kansas Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities & Hall Center for the Humanities May 1, 2014 http://idrh.ku.edu -- This talk is about methodology in the humanities. It begins with a discussion of the most basic practice of humanities research: note-taking. Annotations, marginalia, all of the methods of sifting, highlighting, and gathering: these are the substrate of our larger claims and discoveries. Such is the case even when we are working with "big data," topic modeling, natural language processing, and other automated techniques for what Franco Moretti has called "distant reading." The talk then reflects on the claims for methodology in and as what is being called the digital humanities. These observations emerge at the junction of two occasions. The first is a project to digitize the poet Walt Whitman's annotations and marginalia, his personal metadata on his reading. This NEH-funded project is at the end of its first phase, and will be published later this year for free access at the Walt Whitman Archive (http://www.whitmanarchive.org/). The second spur is the active conversation about the digital humanities as a methodological crucible or fountain; both the tenor and the content of that conversation are occasions for considering the status of method in the humanities.


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