November 2015


“WhatEvery1Says About the Humanities.” University of Otago, Dunedin. 27 November 2015. (Lecture delivered as part of a series in New Zealand during Fulbright Specialist residency at U. Canterbury, October-November, 2015.)

  • Abstract: Drawing on research he directs for the 4humanities.org initiative, Alan Liu discusses the sociocultural context and digital-humanities methods involved in 4Humanities’s ongoing study of public discourse on the humanities. How does data mining and text analyzing large repositories of newspapers, magazines, etc., (e.g., through “topic modeling”) help put in perspective the themes–some might call them “memes”–declared in headlines about the decline of the humanities, the crisis of the humanities, etc.? What is the larger, ambient field of discourse about, and by, humanists behind those headlines? For example, what does it mean that obituaries, wedding announcements, and similar least particles of journalistic media, mention the association of people with humanities education, fields, or institutions? What does the “heat map” of hot discourse about, but also cool background radiation from, the humanities look like?
  • Event announcement.

 

“Literature+.” University of Otago. 27 November 2015. (Lecture delivered as part of a series in New Zealand during Fulbright Specialist residency at U. Canterbury, October-November, 2015.)

  • Abstract: Starting with a talk by Alan Liu on his experience teaching the digital humanities in his Literature+ classes and other digital humanities classes (and on the larger issues of “hybrid pedagogy,” “MOOCs,” and “EdTech” in the background), this workshop is a chance for participants to think together about the future of teaching in the humanities. There are many past practices and formats of teaching that humanists have idealized—e.g., the tutorial on the “Oxbridge” model, the Socratic method or “dialectic” in a classical sense, the seminar, or, put in its most normalized modern mode, “class discussion”—even while humanists are caught up in such dreary antitheses to their ideal as large lecture courses titled “Introduction to …” regimented by teaching-assistant-led sections, patrolled by plagiarism-catching algorithms, and so on. How will humanist pedagogical ideals and practices adapt to the digital age? What is the relation, for example, between a Socratic seminar and either “hybrid pedagogy” or a MOOC with augmented peer-to-peer interactions?
  • Event announcement.

 

“Against the Cultural Singularity: Digital Humanities and Critical Infrastructure Studies.” Workshop on “Frontiers of DH: Humanities Systems Infrastructure,” University of Canterbury. 12 November 2015. (Lecture delivered as part of a series in New Zealand during Fulbright Specialist residency at U. Canterbury, October-November, 2015.)

  • Abstract: Following up on the question asked in the title of his 2012 essay “Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?”, Alan Liu will present drafts from a book that imagines modes of cultural criticism–in particular, critical infrastructure studies–appropriate and native to the digital humanities. His talk focuses on the role of technology infrastructure in (and between) neoliberalism’s major “knowledge work” institutions (including higher education). Can digital humanities research and development be redirected from being primarily instruments of institution work to becoming also ways to act on institutions and their wider social impact, in part through intelligent and ethical interventions in infrastructure? How do specifically digital humanities research and teaching infrastructures fit in that enterprise, which resembles but differs from “enterprise technology systems”?

 

“The Future of the Humanities / The Future and the Humanities.” University of Canterbury. 5 November 2015. (Lecture delivered as part of a series in New Zealand during Fulbright Specialist residency at U. Canterbury, October-November, 2015.)

  • Abstract: Drawing on research and advocacy conducted by the 4humanities.org initiative that he co-founded, Alan Liu discusses the contemporary public perception of the humanities, methods of using digital research and communications to develop effective humanities advocacy, and the broader question of the “future” of humanities disciplines, many of which consider history and the past to be their core. What is the relationship of the humanities to the future? And how can designing a stance on humanities and the future position the humanities disciplines to draw on, but also to help reform, today’s power discourses of “invention,” “innovation,” “disruption,” and “creativity”? The talk details in particular the 4Humanities “WhatEvery1Says” project, which uses digital methods to study a large corpus of media and other public speech about the humanities in order to assist the humanities in reframing the debate.