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Citation: “Theses on the Epistemology of the Digital: Advice For the Cambridge Centre for Digital Knowledge.” Alan Liu, 14 August 2014. http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/theses-on-the-epistemology-of-the-digital-page/

The following was written as a solicited follow-up to my participation in the second planning consultation session of the new Cambridge University Centre for Digital Knowledge. The session, held on 7 May 2014 at the Cambridge Centre for Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), focused on “digital epistemology,” one of the two intended thematic strands of the Centre for Digital Knowledge. A previous planning consultation at CRASSH that I did not attend focused on the other intended strand of “digital society.”

My theses below are meant more as provocation than as prescription; and they do not take account of plans that may have been put in place for the Center for Digital Knowledge since the planning consultations.

Thesis 1: Enlightening the Digital

Establishing a Centre for Digital Knowledge oriented around the “epistemology of digital knowledge” will require a laser-sharp focus on making “knowledge” a productive framework for understanding the digital age. This framework must be robust enough to compete with such more common gestalts as “society,” “politics,” “culture,” and “economy” (represented in such phrases as “information society,” ‘”surveillance society,” “social media,” “online culture,” “information economy,” etc.). The proposed Centre for Digital Knowledge can generate its agenda by deliberately harnessing the tension between knowledge (including ideals of academic knowledge shaped by the German research university model and the Enlightenment) and social, cultural, and economic understandings of the digital age….

5 March 2014

Helen Tartar

My friend and first editor, Helen Tarter — Editorial Director of Fordham University Press and formerly editor at Stanford University Press — died in a car accident on March 4th, 2014. (Fordham UP announcement) Helen was a formative influence on my writing and career who took a gamble on my sprawling first book Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford UP, 1989) and nurtured it into print. I will always remember her support, the discipline she inspired rather than required, and the fluid, sparkling stream of her conversation (carried out in a voice so soft that I hear it in my mind whenever I reread Wordsworth’s “Nutting” and come to the line on “the murmur, and the murmuring sound”).

The following is excerpted from the beginning of the Acknowledgments in my second book (my first book “after Helen”):

Citation: Scott Pound and Alan Liu, “The Amoderns: Reengaging the Humanities — A Feature Interview with Alan Liu.” aModern, 2 (2013). Web. <http://amodern.net/article/the-amoderns-reengaging-the-humanities/>

 

Citation: “‘Why I’m In It’ x 2 – Antiphonal Response to Stephan Ramsay on Digital Humanities and Cultural Criticism.” Alan Liu, 13 September 2013. http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/why-im-in-it-x-2-antiphonal-response-to-stephan-ramsay-on-digital-humanities-and-cultural-criticism/

September 13, 2013

i. Prelude

On January 7, 2011, Stephen Ramsay and I both participated in the memorable panel at the Modern Language Association convention in Los Angeles entitled “The History and Future of the Digital Humanities.” We both launched on that day controversial theses about the digital humanities by asking leading questions. Steve asked, “Do you have to know how to code [build, make]?”, and I asked, “Where is cultural criticism in the digital humanities?”

Now, two and a half years on, we have (virtually) converged again at the intersection between questions about the nature of the digital humanities field and questions about its relation to cultural criticism.  . . .

Citation: “The Meaning of the Digital Humanities.” PMLA 128 (2013): 409-23.


Citation: “The Digital Humanities and Identity Issues.” Alan Liu, 11 May 2013. http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/the-digital-humanities-and-identity-issues/

11 May 2013

I think that the distinctive identity issue to address in considering “the intermingling of race, class, gender, sexuality and disability and the digital humanities” is the political economy of digital-human identity today. Such identity consists in a relational set of overlaps and differences between at least two [groups] of the digital human: those who stand in the position of producers or managers of the technologies and media that shape life in the information age, and those whose “power of identity” (to use Manuel Castells’s term from his trilogy about network society) is shaped by or against those technologies and media without having direct access to producing or managing them.  . . .

Citation: “Is Digital Humanities a Field? — An Answer From the Point of View of Language.” Alan Liu, 6 March 2013. http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/is-digital-humanities-a-field-an-answer-from-the-point-of-view-of-language/

6 March 2013

Over the past few years, I have wrestled with a low-level set of usage and style problems when publishing essays related to digital-humanities issues. These may be put in the form of the two questions: is “digital humanities” singular or plural? and should we crown the phrase with the definite article (“the digital humanities”)?

Of course, these are prosaic questions. But the issues they represent have the unsettling habit of showing up in the most prominent places, such as in the title of an essay I have forthcoming in The Changing Profession section of PMLA. Where my manuscript originally read, “The Meaning of Digital Humanities,” my copy editor has revised to,”The Meaning of the Digital Humanities.” Nor is it just in prominent places that the issues appear. Usage problems of this sort are pervasive to the point that my manuscripts on [the] digital humanities tend to be sprinkled throughout with innumerable tiny problems at the low level of articles and subject-verb agreements. . . .

Citation: Alan Liu (lead author), Rama Hoetzlein, Rita Raley, Ivana Anjelkovic, Salman Bakht, Joshua Dickinson, Michael Hetrick, Andrew Kalaidjian, Eric Nebeker, Dana Solomon, and Lindsay Thomas. “Friending the Humanities Knowledge Base: Exploring Bibliography as Social Network in RoSE.” White Paper for the NEH Office of Digital Humanities: Rose Digital Humanities Start-up Grant (Level 2) HD-51433-11 (9/1/2011 TO 9/30/2012).

Citation: “From Reading to Social Computing.” Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology. Ed. Kenneth M. Price and Ray Siemens. MLA Commons. Modern Language Association of America. 2013. Web. <http://dlsanthology.commons.mla.org/from-reading-to-social-computing/>

Citation: Alan Liu and William G. Thomas III, “Humanities in the Digital Age.” Inside Higher Ed — Views, 1 October 2012. http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/10/01/essay-opportunities-humanities-programs-digital-era/

This was written for the 4Humanities.org “Humanities, Plain & Simple” initiative.

Citation: “The Humanities and Tomorrow’s Discoveries.” 4Humanities, 25 July 2012. http://4humanities.org/2012/07/alan-liu-the-humanities-and-tomorrows-discoveries/

25 July 2012

I think that the distinctive identity issue to address in Today, we use words like invention, innovation, and breakthrough to describe the most hopeful visions for the future of humanity. We pin our hopes on technological and other breakthroughs that might switch on whole new levels of economic, social, and personal well-being–or, just as important, help ward off threats to well-being. We even have a name for the greatest human challenges whose breakthrough solutions–not yet in sight–will require sustained innovation by large numbers of researchers across many fields. We call these “grand challenges.” As identified by the U.S. President’s Office, the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and other public and private agencies, the grand challenges for the 21st century will be global in scale and require collaborative, interdisciplinary solutions on multiple fronts: scientific, engineering, biomedical, agricultural, social, economic, cultural, ethical, and educational. World energy, world climate, world hunger and thirst, world disease, world security. These are some of the grand challenges of the 21st century.

Yet not one of the words invention, innovation, and breakthrough are as powerful as the word that encompasses them all and gives them their full human meaning. That word is discovery, for which a society’s preparedness in the humanities is as vital as in any other field. Discovery is what happens when an invention, innovation, or breakthrough occurs in a fully human horizon of understanding that radically multiplies its value, discovering connections to whole worlds of human meaning and possibility.  . . .

Citation: “Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?” Ed. Matthew K. Gold. Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 490-509.


Citation: “Translitteraties: le big bang de la lecture en ligne.” Trans. Françoise Bouillot. E-Dossiers de l’audiovisuel, January 2012. INA Expert (Inathèque of France). Web.


Citation: “The State of the Digital Humanities: A Report and a Critique.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11.1-2 (2012): 8-41.

Citation: “Friending the Past: The Sense of History and Social Computing.” New Literary History, 42.1 (2011): 1-30.

Citation: “‘So What?': New Tools and New Humanities Paradigms.” Response to Monica Bulger, Jessica Murphy, Jeff Scheible, and Elizabeth Lagresa, “Interdisciplinary Knowledge Work: Digital Textual Analysis Tools and Their Collaboration Affordances.” Collaborative Approaches to the Digital in English Studies. Ed. Laura McGrath. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press / Utah State University Press, 2011. 272-75. (Available online.)


Citation: “We Will Really Know.” Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology in the Humanities and Arts. Ed. Thomas Bartscherer and Roderick Coover. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 89-94.


Citation: “Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?” Alan Liu, 7 January 2011. http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/where-is-cultural-criticism-in-the-digital-humanities/

7 January 2011

Original full text of paper presented at the panel on “The History and Future of the Digital Humanities,” Modern Language Association convention, Los Angeles, 7 January 2011. (The paper was delivered in truncated, improvised form at the actual event due to time constraints.) An expanded version of this paper (full text) was later published under the same title in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew K. Gold (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012): 490-509.

This is the occasion to announce the new initiative titled 4Humanities: Advocating for the Humanities, which is subtitled “Powered by the International Digital Humanities Community.” The site, which I and a collective of digital humanists in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia started in November 2010 in the wake of discussion on the Humanist List about whether the digital humanities had become too “industrialised” and about the budget “cuts” in the United Kingdom, is a platform for advocacy statements for the humanities and other forms of showcasing the value of the humanities. The premise of the site is that the digital humanities have a special role to play today in helping the humanities communicate in contemporary media networks. . . .

Citation: “The End of the End of the Book: Dead Books, Lively Margins, and Social Computing.” Michigan Quarterly Review, 48 (2009): 499-520. Special issue on “Bookishness: The New Fate of Reading in the Digital Age”


Citation: “Thinking Destruction: Creativity, Rational Choice, Emergence, and Destruction Theory.” Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, 1.1 (October 15, 2009). <http://occasion.stanford.edu/node/24>

Citation: “A New Metaphor for Reading.” Invited contribution to “Room for Debate” forum on “Does the Brain Like E-Books?” New York Times, 14 October 2009. http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/does-the-brain-like-e-books/

Citation: “Digital Humanities and Academic Change.” English Language Notes 47 (2009): 17-35


Citation: “A Poem Should Be Equal To: / Not True.” Preface to Romanticism, History, Historicism: Essays on an Orthodoxy. Ed. Damian Walford Davies. New York: Routledge, 2009. xiii-xx

Local Transcendence cover Local Transcendence spine Local Trascendence back cover
Citation: Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

 

[392 pp., ISBN-10: 0226486966, ISBN-13: 978-0226486963]

Book of essays on the methodology of the new historicism and other modes of postmodern cultural criticism in the age of the network and the database (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)

Citation: “When Was Linearity?: The Meaning of Graphics in the Digital Age.” Digital History. Web. August, 2008. <http://digitalhistory.unl.edu/essays/liuessay.php>

Currents in Electronic LiteracyCitation: “Literature+.” Currents in Electronic Literacy (Spring 2008). <http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/Spring08/Liu>


Companion to Digital Literary StudiesCitation: “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Ed. Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007. 3-25



Citation: “Higher Education and Online Lifelong Learning: Five Theses.” Academy Exchange, Issue 6 (Summer 2007): 34-35.Five Theses

Citation: “The Humanities: A Technical Profession.” Andrew Delbanco, Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Alan Liu, and Catharine R. Stimpson, The Idea and Ideals of the University. ACLS Occasional Paper No. 63, 2007. <http://www.acls.org/Publications/OP/63_Ideas_and_Ideals.pdf>

[Note: This paper was first presented as a talk at the Annual Meeting of the ACLS, 8 May 2004, then revised slightly for publication in 2007 in the ACLS Occasional Papers online series. Though this revision stays close to the talk, it adopts some of the changes made for the first published essay version of the paper: the 2005 article (also titled “The Humanities: A Technical Profession”) in Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media, ed. Michael Hanrahan and Deborah Madsen (Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005): 11-26.]

(For an excerpt, see the entry for the above mentioned, closely similar, 2005 article.)

Citation: “Understanding Knowledge Work.” Criticism 47 (2005): 249-60. Essay written as invited response to Johanna Drucker’s and N. Katherine Hayles’s reviews in the same issue of Criticism of The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information

  • Full text — HTML | .pdf (Project Muse)
  • Full text of the reviews of The Laws of Cool to which this essay responds (Project Muse):
    • N. Katherine Hayles, “Attacking the Borg of Corporate Knowledge Work: The Achievement of Alan Liu’s The Laws of Cool” — HTML | .pdf
    • Johanna Drucker, “Humanities Games and the Market in Digital Futures” — HTML | .pdf

Citation: “A Transformed Revolution: The Prelude, Books 9-13.” William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude”: A Casebook. Ed. Stephen Gill. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 341-75.

[Excerpt from chapter 8 of Wordsworth: The Sense of History.]

 

Citation: “The Humanities: A Technical Profession.” Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media. Ed. Michael Hanrahan and Deborah Madsen. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 11-26.

Citation: “The New Historicism and the Work of Mourning.” The Wordsworthian Enlightenment: Romantic Poetry and the Ecology of Reading. Ed. Helen Regueiro Elam and Frances Ferguson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. 149-57.

[Reprint of “The New Historicism and the Work of Mourning,” Studies in Romanticism 35 (1996): 553-62.]

 

Citation: Alan Liu, David Durand, Nick Montfort, Merrilee Proffitt, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Version 1.1. August 5, 2005. Electronic Literature Organization. Retrieved [date of access]. <http://www.eliterature.org/pad/bab.html>.

This white paper is part of the Electronic Literature Organization’s PAD (Preservation / Archiving / Dissemination) initiative. PAD aims to create methods for preserving or migrating experimental, “born-digital” works of creative literature that are perishing with their original hardware and software environments.

Citation: “Transcendental Data: Toward A Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse.” Critical Inquiry 31 (2004): 49-84.

  • Full text (Univ. of Chicago Press Journals)

Citation: The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

 

[552 pages, ISBN-10: 0226486990, ISBN-13: 978-0226486994]

book spine back cover back cover front cover

Citation: “Sidney’s Technology: A Critique by Technology of Literary History.” Acts of Narrative. Ed. Carol Jacobs and Henry Sussman. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003. 174-94.

Citation: “Remembering the Spruce Goose: Historicism, Postmodernism, Romanticism.” South Atlantic Quarterly 102 (2003): 263-78.

Citation: William Wordsworth. Ed. Alan Liu. Illustrator, James Muir. Poetry for Young People. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2003.

Jacket blurb: “William Wordsworth’s finest poems take you on a captivating adventure to another time and place. Fantastic color paintings portray the mountains and lakes, and the people who lived by them, that Wordsworth writes about in his lyrical verses.”

[48 pp., 35 illustrations;
ISBN-10: 0806982772,
ISBN-13: 978-0806982779]


William Wordsworth edition for children William Wordsworth edition for children (back)

Citation: “The Future Literary: Literature and the Culture of Information.” Time and the Literary. Ed. Karen Newman, Jay Clayton, and Marianne Hirsch. New York: Routledge, 2002. 61-100.

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