Category > Upcoming Talks & Events

“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 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.”