Category > Talks
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“Overview: Open, Shareable, Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities.” Panel on “Open, Shareable, Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities: The Case of the 4Humanities.org ‘WhatEvery1Says’ Project.” Digital Humanities 2017 conference, 11 August 2017, Montreal.

“Critical Infrastructure Studies.” University of Wroclaw. 28 June 2017.

  • Abstract: In an era when complexly “smart” and hybrid material-virtual infrastructures ranging from the micro to the macro scale seem to obviate older distinctions between material base and cultural superstructure, how can the digital humanities and new media studies join in an emergent “critical infrastructure studies”? What are the traditions of such studies? What is the topic’s scope? What are some especially high-value areas for intervention by digital humanists and new media scholars/artists? And how can digital scholars in the humanities and arts collaborate with digital social scientists taking up similar matters? In this seminar, Alan Liu will lead a seminar among participants that considers the question: is critical infrastructure studies today’s distinctive mode of “cultural criticism”? (Participants are asked to read a pre-circulated paper by Liu titled “Toward Critical infrastructure Studies: Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and the Culture of Infrastructure.”)

“Key Trends in the Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” WRO Art Center. 27 June 2017.

  • Abstract: How do key methods in the digital humanities such as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”
Talk at WRO Art Center, Wroclaw   Talk at WRO Art Center, Wroclaw   With (left to right) Dorota Wolska, Alexandra Kil, and Jacek Ma?czy?ski of the University of Wroclaw's Laboratory of Contemporary Humanities (in the Department of Cultural Studies

 

“Open, Shareable, Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities: The Case of the 4Humanities.org ‘WhatEvery1Says’ Project.” University of Sussex. 29 March 2017.

  • Abstract: Can digital humanities projects that collect, analyze, and interpret texts and other materials make their provenance and workflow transparent to others? Can such workflows be shared for reproduction or adaptation? How can the digital humanities learn from the workflow management systems of the “in silico” sciences? And how in this regard should they be different from the sciences? Using as example the in-progress “WhatEvery1Says” (WE1S) project he leads (which is topic modeling articles mentioning the humanities in newspapers), Alan Liu offers a general vision of open, shareable, and reproducible workflows for the digital humanities. He also speculates on what is at stake from the viewpoint of humanists more broadly.
 

“Toward Critical infrastructure Studies: Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and the Culture of Infrastructure.” University of Connecticut, Storrs. 23 February 2017.

  • Abstract: In an era when complexly “smart” and hybrid material-virtual infrastructures ranging from the micro to the macro scale seem to obviate older distinctions between material base and cultural superstructure, how can the digital humanities and new media studies join in an emergent “critical infrastructure studies”? What are the traditions of such studies? What is the topic’s scope? What are some especially high-value areas for intervention by digital humanists and new media scholars/artists? And how can digital scholars in the humanities and arts collaborate with digital social scientists taking up similar matters? In this keynote talk, Alan Liu considers the hypothesis that today’s “cultural studies” is a mode of critical infrastructure studies.
  • Video Video of lecture with introductions and Q & A (slides not shown) (1hr, 32 min.)

“Digital Humanities and Critical Infrastructure Studies.” DHU2 (2017 Digital Humanities Symposium Utah. University of Utah. 10 February 2017.

“‘Wild Surmise’: How Humanists and Artists Discovered the Internet at UCSB, c. 1994 — An Origins Story.” University Library, UC Santa Barbara. 13 June 2017.

  • Abstract: How did humanities and arts computing start at UCSB in the era of the beginning of the Web? How did our campus become one of the early leaders in scholarly use and study of the Internet by humanists? In this talk, Alan Liu provides a glimpse of the origin of his Voice of the Shuttle Web site for humanities research, the UCSB Many Wolves Authoring Collective, the Ultrabasic Guide to the Internet for Humanities Users at UCSB, the original Humanitas.ucsb.edu server, the first department-based server in the humanities, and other greatest hits of the very, very early online era at UCSB. What did the world look like in 1994 from the perspective of humanists browsing on a 2400-baud modem with Lynx and Mosaic?

“The Digital Humanities: A Window on Tomorrow’s Structures of Humanities Knowledge.” Mellon Foundation, New York City. 2 November 2016.

“Infrastructure.” Penn State Center for Humanities and Information, Pennsylvania State University. 28 October 2016.

 

“WhatEvery1Says About the Humanities — Digital Humanities Methods for Understanding and Making a Difference in Public Perception of the Humanities.” Dartmouth College. 20 September 2016.

  • Abstract: Drawing on research and advocacy conducted by the 4humanities.org initiative that he 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. Part of the talk focuses on the in-progress 4Humanities “WhatEvery1Says” project, which uses topic-modeling and other digital methods to study a large corpus of articles about the humanities in the media with the aim of assisting the humanities in reframing the debate. How does data mining newspapers, magazines, etc. 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.?

“From Cultural Studies to Infrastructure Studies? (Digital Humanities and Critical Infrastructure Studies).” Dartmouth College. 20 September 2016.

 

“Digital Humanities: Overview and the Example of the 4Humanities.org WhatEvery1Says Project.” University of Mannheim. 31 August 2016.

 

“What Infrastructure Means to Me.” Interrogating Infrastructure Symposium, King’s College. 8 July 2016.

 

“The 4Humanities WhatEvery1Says Project: Initial Work and Future Plans.” SyncDH, University of California, Santa Barbara. 27 May 2016.

“Practice and Theory of ‘Distant Reading’ — An Introductory Workshop on Digital Humanities Methods.” University of San Francisco, 1 March 2015.

  • Abstract: In this beginner’s hands-on workshop and discussion, Alan Liu will introduce the idea of “distant reading” and some of the commonly used digital humanities methods and tools used to pursue it in digital literary studies, digital history, sociology, and other humanities and social science disciplines. Methods covered include text analysis, topic modeling, and social network analysis. Workshop participants will try their hand at one or more tools used for these methods, aiming not for mastery or even competence but just to capture an interesting “souvenir,” e.g., a screenshot. (For the purposes of the workshop, even failed attempts can produce an interesting souvenir.)  Liu will then lead a broader discussion based on the souvenirs about the opportunities and limitations of digital humanities methods. (A Web site for the workshop with detailed agenda and resources will be made available in advance to enrolled workshop participants.)
    • Workshop Agenda
    • Workshop “Souvenirs” (Examples and screenshots produced by workshop participants)
    • Workshop Workstation Set-up (Software, data resources, and workspace for the workshop. This page is designed to aid U. San Francisco technical staff in setting up the machines in the lab. However, workshop participants can use the specs to set up a duplicate of the working environment for the workshop on their own computers if they wish.)

 

“The Future of the Humanities / The Future and the Humanities.” University of San Francisco. 29 February November 2016.

  • 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.

“How to Be a Humanist in the Year 2030: Digital Humanities and the New Norms of Scholarship (A Prophecy).” Critical Speaker Series. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 10 February 2016.

“Key Trends in Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” Critical Speakers Series. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 9 February 2016.

  • Abstract: How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”

“Key Trends in Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” University of Victoria, Wellington. 1 December 2015. (Lecture delivered as part of a series in New Zealand during Fulbright Specialist residency at U. Canterbury, October-November, 2015.)

  • Abstract: How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”

 

“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”?
  • Video Video of the lecture. (55 min.)

 

“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.

 

“Key Trends in Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” University of Canterbury. 28 October 2015. (Lecture delivered as part of a series in New Zealand during Fulbright Specialist residency at U. Canterbury, October-November, 2015.)

  • Abstract: How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”
  • Event announcement.

 

“Key Trends in Digital Humanities – How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” Siberian Federal University, 25 September 2015.

  • Abstract: What are the digital humanities? And how do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”


“N + 1: A Plea for Cross-Domain Data in the Digital Humanities.” Siberian Federal University, 21 September 2015.

  • Abstract: In experimenting with text analysis, machine learning, visualization, and other methods, digital humanists often study materials collected from specific segments of the human documentary record–for example: a study corpus consisting just of one of the following at a time: novels, poems, letters, newspapers, historical maps, crime records, political speeches, etc. Such corpora also tend to be tuned to the specific domain of a scholar’s expertise (e.g., novels of a particular century and nation). In this short, speculative talk, Liu asks: what could be gained methodologically and theoretically by deliberately hybridizing domains–for example, pairing any two or three kinds, periods, or nationalities of materials in a controlled way? What would be involved, in other words, in giving digital humanities corpora some of the mixed quality of their uncanny doubles (alike yet dissimilar): “archives” in the strict sense and “corpora” in the corpus linguistics sense?
            The talk concludes with a presentation of aspects of the 4Humanities.org “WhatEvery1Says” research project (topic modeling public discourse about the humanities) that bear on the theme of cross-domain knowledge.


“N + 1: A Plea for Cross-Domain Data in the Digital Humanities.” Keynote Panel on “Data, Corpora, and Stewardship,” Digital Humanities at Berkeley Summer Institute, University of California, Berkeley, 17 August 2015.

  • Abstract: In experimenting with text analysis, machine learning, visualization, and other methods, digital humanists often study materials collected from specific segments of the human documentary record–for example: a study corpus consisting just of one of the following at a time: novels, poems, letters, newspapers, historical maps, crime records, political speeches, etc. Such corpora also tend to be tuned to the specific domain of a scholar’s expertise (e.g., novels of a particular century and nation). In this short, speculative talk, Liu asks: what could be gained methodologically and theoretically by deliberately hybridizing domains–for example, pairing any two or three kinds, periods, or nationalities of materials in a controlled way? What would be involved, in other words, in giving digital humanities corpora some of the mixed quality of their uncanny doubles (alike yet dissimilar): “archives” in the strict sense and “corpora” in the corpus linguistics sense?
            The talk concludes with a presentation of aspects of the 4Humanities.org “WhatEvery1Says” research project (topic modeling public discourse about the humanities) that bear on the theme of cross-domain knowledge.


“Digital Humanities and the Reorientation of the Humanities Knowledge Space.” Keynote talk for Expert Meeting on Spatial Discovery, UC Santa Barbara. 18 June 2015.

  • Abstract: I am participating in this “Spatial Discovery” event not as an expert in spatial research, linked data, or libraries but instead as a “digital humanist” offering a reflection on some of the themes of the event from a humanist perspective. With the advent of digital media and collections, the traditional “knowledge space” of the humanities disciplines has been eroding. At the interface, that space consisted of such spatially organized structures as the “page,” “book, ” and associated finding aids. More foundationally, the knowledge space of the humanities depended on the tacit orientation provided by place-based collections and the spatial-juridical architecture of archives (with their hybrid physical-conceptual notions of the “archival threshold,” “respect des fonds,” “original arrangement,” etc.). This talk considers methods and practices in the digital humanities that at once further the erosion of the knowledge space of the humanities and attempt to reconstitute that space in new ways, including through maps, network, and provenance structures serving as way-finding aids.


“Key Research Trends in Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” Center for Information Technology lecture series, UC Santa Barbara. 30 April 2015.


“Key Trends in Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” Bucknell University. 27 April 2015.

  • Abstract: How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”


“The 4Humanities Initiative.” Bucknell University. 27 April 2015.

“Against the Cultural Singularity: Toward a Critical Digital Humanities.” Texas Digital Humanities Consortium conference, University of Texas at Arlington. 11 April 2015.

  • Abstract: Following up on the question he asked in the title of his 2012 essay “Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?”, Alan Liu will present early drafts from a book he is writing that imagines a mode of cultural criticism appropriate and native to the digital humanities. His talk focuses on the role of technology in, and between, neoliberalism’s major “knowledge work” institutions (including higher education) as the context in which digital-humanities research and development can be redirected from being primarily instruments of institution work to becoming also ways to act on institutions and their wider social impact. What methodological framework can assist the digital humanities in exploring that context? What kinds of scholarship, projects, and tool-building might constitute a critical digital humanities?
  • Storify of Twitter live-coverage of the talk by Adeline Koh (@adelinekoh).
  • Storify of Twitter posts from the #TXCHC conference by Jody Bailey (@reffervescent)

 

“Against the Cultural Singularity: Toward a Critical Digital Humanities.” History and Theory of New Media lecture series, Berkeley Center for New Media, University of California, Berkeley. 5 March 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 early drafts from a book that imagines modes of cultural criticism appropriate and native to the digital humanities. His talk focuses on the role of technology 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? What methodological framework can assist the making of a revisionary “enterprise technology”? What kinds of scholarship, projects, and tool-building might constitute a critical digital humanities?


“Against the Cultural Singularity: Toward a Critical Digital Humanities.” Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures, University of California, Davis. 3 March 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 early drafts from a book that imagines modes of cultural criticism appropriate and native to the digital humanities. His talk focuses on the role of technology 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? What methodological framework can assist the making of a revisionary “enterprise technology”? What kinds of scholarship, projects, and tool-building might constitute a critical digital humanities?
  • Jenae Cohn, “A Recap of Alan Liu’s Talk, ‘Against the Cultural Singularity: Toward a Critical Digital Humanities.'” (HASTAC blog post reporting on the talk, 12 March 2015)

 

“Key Trends in Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” Digital Humanities at Claremont Colleges (DH@CC) Spring Symposium, Claremont Colleges. 18 February 2015.

  • Abstract: How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”
  • Storify of the the talk and symposium.
  • Video Video of talk (videography by AJ Strout) (1 hr., 18 min.)


“Practice and Theory of ‘Distant Reading’: An Introductory Workshop on Digital Humanities Methods.” Experimental Humanities program, Bard College. 7 November 2014.

  • Web site for workshop with detailed agenda and resources.
  • Abstract: In this hands-on workshop and discussion, Alan Liu will introduce some commonly used analytical tools in the digital humanities—e.g.,
    • Google Books Ngram viewer & the Bookworm tool for exploring Hathi Trust texts;
    • Voyeur Tools, AntConc, and similar text-analysis tools;
    • Topic modeling tools;
    • Social network analysis tools;
    • Visualization tools.

    Participants will then try their hand at one or more tools, aiming not for mastery or even competence but just to capture an interesting “souvenir,” e.g., a screenshot. (For the purposes of the workshop, even failed attempts can produce an interesting souvenir.)

    Alan Liu will then lead a broader discussion based on the souvenirs about the opportunities and limitations of digital humanities methods. The largest question that the workshop will open to view is: how do digital humanities methods signal today’s changing ideas about the human world?

“Rediscovering the Humanities: Humanities Advocacy in the Digital Age.” Experimental Humanities program, Bard College. 6 November 2014.

  • Abstract: How can liberal arts colleges, teachers, and students make the case for the value of the humanities to the public today? Starting with the example of the 4Humanities.org advocacy initiative that he co-founded, Alan Liu will discuss strategies of communicating the values of the humanities in today’s society. A special emphasis of the talk is the promise of new digital technologies for public engagement in the humanities.


“Advice for Chairs (Based on English Department Practice at UCSB).” New Chair Orientation Meeting, College of Letters & Science, UC Santa Barbara. 29 September 2014.


“Against the Cultural Singularity: Drafts For a Critical Digital Humanities.” Center for the Humanities Digital Humanities lecture series, University of Miami. 26 September 2014.


“Key Trends in Digital Humanities (and How the Digital Humanities Register Changes in the Humanities).” Center for the Humanities Digital Humanities lecture series, University of Miami. 25 September 2014.


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