English 197: Introduction to Digital Humanities (Spring 2024)

This is the main course website. There is also a course Canvas site for uploading assignments.

Quarter: Spring 2024
Class Meeting Time: Tues & Thurs, 2:00-3:15pm
Location: South Hall 2623
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours: Tue, 3:30-4:30 or by appt., South Hall 2521


Voyant Tools analysis of William Wordsworth’s The Prelude (1850 version).

This course introduces important types and methods of the digital humanities (“DH”). Topics include the emergence of digital humanities as a field, “distant reading,” text encoding, text analysis (including various methods of quantitative analysis, topic modeling, and “word embedding”), artificial-intelligence “large language models,” social network analysis, and GIS mapping. A key aspect of the course is the balance it seeks between ideas and technology. Far-reaching ideas about literature and other areas of social and cultural life are reexamined from a technological perspective, and, reciprocally, current technology is thought about in relation to far older and more extensive domains of technê (human arts and skills).

The course gives students a hands-on introduction to  digital humanities methods and tools through weekly practicums designed for beginners. (No previous technical experience or expertise is required.) Other assignments include two “project proposals” (proposals for digital-humanities projects that are explained and planned out but, due to time constraints in an academic quarter do not have to be executed).

English 25 (2023 Spring)

English 25: Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions

Quarter: Spring 2023
Class Meeting Time: MWF, 1:00-1:50pm
Location: Life Sciences Building 1001
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours(No office hours this week, May 31) Wed. 2-3 pm (location: SH 2521)

How have language, reading, and literature responded to revolutions in media, communication, and information technology? This course introduces the history and theory of the major changes in human discourse that have led up to our current information age. Readings in literary and artistic works exemplify the creative artist’s response to these changes.
Manicule  See also the 1-credit honors section English 25S led by Prof. Liu, which may be taken by Honors Students enrolled in English 25 in addition to their regular section. Add codes may be requested from Prof. Liu, (The first meeting of the English 25S honors section will be April 10.)

Logo from original UCSB English Dept's Transcriptions Center -- Literature & Culture of Information site, c. 1998

Logo from original 1998 website of UCSB English Dept’s Transcriptions Center for studies in old and new media, communication, and information. (See the current Transcriptions site)

 

Sections


Teaching Assistants

  • Baker, R (“Baker”),
    Office Hours: M 10:30 am – 1:30 pm (location: outside the Summit Cafe in the Library, NW corner)
  • Fulmer, Alice,
    Office Hours: Th 1-4 pm (location: South Hall 2607B — the Medieval Literatures office inside the English Department’s “Collaborative Research Center”)
  • Leach, Ryan,
    Office Hours: W 2:30-3:30 pm (location: Zoom meeting address: https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/3788813797)

 

Sections

Enroll Code TA Meeting Time Location
18085 Baker M 4:00- 4:50 GIRV 2123
18093 Baker M 5:00-5:50 HSSB 1237
18101 Leach T 9:00- 9:50 HSSV 1227
18119 Leach T 10:00-10:50 HSSB 1215
18127 Fulmer T 4:00- 4:50 HSSB 1228
18135 Fulmer T 5:00- 5:50 HSSB 1231

Highlights of the Course
(see Schedule & Assignments for more information)


Course content units:

  • Literature Across Media Ages
  • The Communication/Information Age — Information’s impact on what we mean by “meaning”
  • The Postindustrial & Neoliberal Age — Information’s impact on work and power
  • Processing Literature — Information’s impact on the way we study literature

Key readings:

  • Novelists: Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49), William Gibson (Neuromancer)
  • Media theorists: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, N. Katherine, Lev Manovitch, etc.
  • Historians and theorists of communication/computing: Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, Vannevar Bush, etc.
  • Business historians & theorists on the information age: Joseph Schumpeter, Shoshana Zuboff, Peter Senge, Manuel Castells, etc.
  • Critics, cyberlibertarians, and hackers of the information age: John Perry Barlow, Critical Art Ensemble, Donna Haraway, Jodi, etc.
  • Theorists and practitioners of the new “digital humanities”: Franco Moretti, The Stanford Literary lab, Ted Underwood, etc.
  • Theorists of digital “deformance” and “glitch”: Lisa Samuels, Jerome McGann, Mark Sample, Rosa Menkman, etc.

Key assignments:

  • Short essay in which you imagine what computing will be like in the year 2050.
  • Short essay on Thomas Pynchon’s novel.
  • Short essay on Being Human in the Digital Age
  • Also, required ungraded assignments:
    • Spreadsheet & Short Essay: spreadsheet comparing work life of a student and your imagined life in your desired future career, accompanied by short essay on “Being Human in the Age of Information Knowledge Work”
    • Text-analysis exercise on a work of literature accompanied by short commentary.

Exams: (mostly “factual” in nature)

  • Mid-term exam
  • Final exam

 

English 146DS: Data Stories: Theory and Practice of Data-driven Narratives in the Digital Age (Winter 2023)

Quarter: Winter 2023
Class Meeting Time: Tues & Thurs, 2:00-3:15pm (Pacific time)
Location: HSSB 2202
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours: Tue. 3:30-4:30, South Hall 2521
Co-instructor: Leila Stegemoeller | Office Hours: W 3:30-4:30, South Hall 2509

Graphic in form of Venn diagram illustrating concept of data narratives. (Brent Dykes, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)
Brent Dykes, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

“Data Stories” introduces students to an increasingly important genre of discourse in today’s society: data-driven narrative–e.g., as it appears in journalism; science, medical, and political reporting; business or government writing; and even some literary and artistic forms. The course draws on research areas with deep roots in the humanities such as narrative theory, genre theory (especially of story-driven forms spanning from prehistorical oral epics to the modern and postmodern novel), and media theory. It brings those approaches into conjunction with readings about, and examples of, data journalism and data visualization to ask this central question: how do you make a good story out of data? More fully, what is a “good” data story—one that is both impactful and socially or ethically good (by contrast, for example, with “fake news”)? Students will also learn from ethnographic research about how older societies told good data stories (e.g., how practical and social “data” was traded around the campfire at night in oral cultures). After learning about the theory and structure of narrative forms, data forms, and visualization forms, students will be asked to create a project in which they take a dataset and create a narrative about it that includes data visualizations.

In Winter 2023, “Data Stories” will be co-taught by Professor Alan Liu and Ph.D. student Leila Stegemoeller (teaching assistant this year for the English Department’s Transcriptions Center for Digital Humanities and New Media). “Data Stories” counts as an elective for the English Department’s Literature & Culture of Information (LCI) specialization for English majors.

Credits: While this undergraduate course builds on parts of Alan Liu’s earlier 2019 graduate course on “The Humanities and Data Science,” it also draws on ideas for readings, dataset sources, or assignments volunteered by individuals (Rebecca Baker, Teddy Roland, Tyler Shoemaker, Madeleine Sorapure) or scavenged from courses and resources elsewhere (e.g., Alberto Cairo’s video lessons on “Annotation and Narration”; Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice!; Miriam Posner’s 2017 “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course; and Melanie Walsh’s “Introduction to Cultural Analytics & Python” course). Special thanks to Teddy Roland for collaboration on creating the first instance of this course in Spring 2021 and co-teaching it.

English 197: Introduction to Digital Humanities (Fall 2022)

This is the main course website. There is also a course Canvas site for uploading assignments.

Quarter: Winter 2022
Class Meeting Time: Tues & Thurs, 3:30-4:45pm
Location: South Hall 2623
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours: Tue, 4:50-5:30 or by appt., South Hall 2521

This course is also open with the instructor’s permission to students from other majors and class years. (Contact Prof. Liu to inquire and for an add code: )

This course introduces important types and methods of the digital humanities (“DH”). Topics include the emergence of digital humanities as a field, “distant reading,” text encoding, text analysis (including various methods of quantitative analysis, topic modeling, and “word embedding”), artificial-intelligence “large language models,” social network analysis, and GIS mapping. A key aspect of the course is the balance it seeks between ideas and technology. Far-reaching ideas about literature and other areas of social and cultural life are reexamined from a technological perspective, and, reciprocally, current technology is thought about in relation to far older and more extensive domains of technê (human arts and skills).

The course gives students a hands-on introduction to  digiral humanities methods and tools through weekly practicums designed for beginners. (No previous technical experience or expertise is required.) Other assignments include two “project proposals” (proposals for digital-humanities projects that are explained and planned out but, due to time constraints in an academic quarter do not have to be executed).

English 25 (2022 Spring)

This is the older 2022 version of English 25. For the Spring 2023 version, go here.

English 25: Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions

Quarter: Spring 2022
Class Meeting Time: MWF, 1:00-1:50pm
Location: Girvetz 1004
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours:  SH 2521, Wed. 2-3 pm

How have language, reading, and literature responded to revolutions in media, communication, and information technology? This course introduces the history and theory of the major changes in human discourse that have led up to our current information age. Readings in literary and artistic works exemplify the creative artist’s response to these changes.
Manicule  See also the 1-credit honors section English 25S led by Prof. Liu, which may be taken by Honors Students enrolled in English 25 in addition to their regular section. Add codes may be requested from Prof. Liu, (The first meeting of the English 25S honors section will be April 4.)

Logo from original UCSB English Dept's Transcriptions Center -- Literature & Culture of Information site, c. 1998

Logo from original UCSB English Dept’s Transcriptions Center — Literature & Culture of Information site, c. 1998. (Current Transcriptions site)

 

Sections


Teaching Assistants

  • Qiaoyu Cai,
    Office Hours: SH 2432-U (or Zoom), F 3-5 pm
  • Maria Job,
    Office Hours: Zoom, W 3-4 pm
  • Scott Kneece,
    Office Hours: Zoom, Th. 2-3 pm

 

Sections

Enroll Code TA Meeting Time Location
18598 Maria Job W 4:00- 4:50 SH 2623
18606 Maria Job W 5:00-5:50 SH 2623
18614 Scott Kneece R 9:00- 9:50 SH 2635
18622 Scott Kneece R 10:00-10:50 SH 2635
18630 Qiaoyu Cai M 4:00- 4:50 SH 2635
18648 Qiaoyu Cai M 5:00- 5:50 SH 2635

Highlights of the Course
(see Schedule & Assignments for more information)


Course content units:

  • Literature Across Media Ages
  • The Communication/Information Age — Information’s impact on what we mean by “meaning”
  • The Postindustrial & Neoliberal Age — Information’s impact on work and power
  • Processing Literature — Information’s impact on the way we study literature

Key readings:

  • Novelists: Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49), William Gibson (Neuromancer)
  • Media theorists: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, N. Katherine, Lev Manovitch, etc.
  • Historians and theorists of communication/computing: Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, Vannevar Bush, etc.
  • Business historians & theorists on the information age: Joseph Schumpeter, Shoshana Zuboff, Peter Senge, Manuel Castells, etc.
  • Critics, cyberlibertarians, and hackers of the information age: John Perry Barlow, Critical Art Ensemble, Donna Haraway, Jodi, etc.
  • Theorists and practitioners of the new “digital humanities”: Franco Moretti, The Stanford Literary lab, Ted Underwood, etc.
  • Theorists of digital “deformance” and “glitch”: Lisa Samuels, Jerome McGann, Mark Sample, Rosa Menkman, etc.

Key assignments:

  • Short essay in which you imagine what computing will be like in the year 2050.
  • Short essay on Thomas Pynchon’s novel.
  • Short essay on Being Human in the Digital Age
  • Also, required ungraded assignments:
    • Spreadsheet & Short Essay: spreadsheet comparing work life of a student and your imagined life in your desired future career, accompanied by short essay on “Being Human in the Age of Information Knowledge Work”
    • Text-analysis exercise on a work of literature accompanied by short commentary.

Exams: (mostly “factual” in nature)

  • Mid-term exam
  • Final exam

 

English 146DS: Data Stories: Theory and Practice of Data-driven Narratives in the Digital Age (Winter 2022)

Quarter: Winter 2022
Class Meeting Time: Tues & Thurs, 2:00-3:15pm (Pacific time)
Location: SSMS 1005
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours: Thur. 3:30-4:30 (in Zoom at https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/796874043 during January 2022; in person beginning in Feburary  in South Hall 2521)
Co-instructor: Rebecca Baker | Office Hours: Tue: 11:30-1:30 & by appt. (in person in South Hall 2509, with simultaneous office-hours Zoom at https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/9717309292)

Graphic in form of Venn diagram illustrating concept of data narratives. (Brent Dykes, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)
Brent Dykes, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

“Data Stories” introduces students to an increasingly important genre of discourse in today’s society: data-driven narrative–e.g., as it appears in journalism; science, medical, and political reporting; business or government writing; and even some literary and artistic forms. The course draws on research areas with deep roots in the humanities such as narrative theory, genre theory (especially of story-driven forms spanning from prehistorical oral epics to the modern and postmodern novel), and media theory. It brings those approaches into conjunction with readings about, and examples of, data journalism and data visualization to ask this central question: how do you make a good story out of data? More fully, what is a “good” data story—one that is both impactful and socially or ethically good (by contrast, for example, with “fake news”)? Students will also learn from ethnographic research about how older societies told good data stories (e.g., how practical and social “data” was traded around the campfire at night in oral cultures). After learning about the theory and structure of narrative forms, data forms, and visualization forms, students will be asked to create a project in which they take a dataset and create a narrative about it that includes data visualizations.

In Winter 2022, “Data Stories” will be co-taught by Professor Alan Liu and Ph.D. student Rebecca Baker (teaching assistant this year for the English Department’s Transcriptions Center for Digital Humanities and New Media). “Data Stories” counts as an elective for the English Department’s Literature & Culture of Information (LCI) specialization for English majors.

Credits: While this undergraduate course builds on parts of Alan Liu’s earlier 2019 graduate course on “The Humanities and Data Science,” it also draws on ideas for readings, dataset sources, or assignments volunteered by individuals (Rebecca Baker, Teddy Roland, Tyler Shoemaker, Madeleine Sorapure) or scavenged from courses and resources elsewhere (e.g., Alberto Cairo’s video lessons on “Annotation and Narration”; Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice!; Miriam Posner’s 2017 “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course; and Melanie Walsh’s “Introduction to Cultural Analytics & Python” course). Special thanks to Teddy Roland for collaboration on creating the first instance of this course in Spring 2021 and co-teaching it.

English 25 (2021 Spring)

English 25: Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions

Quarter: Spring 2021
Class Meeting Time: MWF, 1:00-1:50pm (Pacific time)
Location: Lectures given synchronously at this Zoom URL (passcode required after March 29) (Lectures will also be recorded)
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours:  Wed. 2-3 pm (Office hours Zoom)

How have language, reading, and literature responded to revolutions in media, communication, and information technology? This course introduces the history and theory of the major changes in human discourse that have led up to our current information age. Readings in literary and artistic works exemplify the creative artist’s response to these changes.

Logo from original UCSB English Dept's Transcriptions Center -- Literature & Culture of Information site, c. 1998

Logo from original UCSB English Dept’s Transcriptions Center — Literature & Culture of Information site, c. 1998. (Current Transcriptions site)

 

Highlights of the Course
(see Schedule & Assignments for more information)


Course content units:

  • Literature Across Media Ages
  • The Communication/Information Age — Information’s impact on what we mean by “meaning”
  • The Postindustrial & Neoliberal Age — Information’s impact on work and power
  • Processing Literature — Information’s impact on the way we study literature

Key readings:

  • Novelists: Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49), William Gibson (Neuromancer)
  • Media theorists: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, N. Katherine, Lev Manovitch, etc.
  • Historians and theorists of communication/computing: Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, Vannevar Bush, etc.
  • Business historians & theorists on the information age: Joseph Schumpeter, Shoshana Zuboff, Peter Senge, Manuel Castells, etc.
  • Critics, cyberlibertarians, and hackers of the information age: John Perry Barlow, Critical Art Ensemble, Donna Haraway, Jodi, etc.
  • Theorists and practitioners of the new “digital humanities”: Franco Moretti, The Stanford Literary lab, Ted Underwood, etc.
  • Theorists of digital “deformance” and “glitch”: Lisa Samuels, Jerome McGann, Mark Sample, Rosa Menkman, etc.

Key assignments:

  • Short essay in which you imagine what computing will be like in the year 2050.
  • Short essay on Thomas Pynchon’s novel.
  • Short essay on Being Human in the Digital Age
  • Optional: Spreadsheet & Short Essay: spreadsheet comparing work life of a student and your imagined life in your desired future career, accompanied by short essay on “Being Human in the Age of Information Knowledge Work”
  • Optional: Text-analysis exercise on a work of literature accompanied by short commentary.

Exams: (mostly “factual” in nature)

  • Mid-term exam
  • Final exam

 

English 146DS: Data Stories: Theory and Practice of Data-driven Narratives in the Digital Age (Winter 2021)

Quarter: Winter 2021
Class Meeting Time: Tues & Thurs, 12:30-1:45pm (Pacific time)
Location: Course meets synchronously at this Zoom URL (password required)
InstructorAlan Liu | Office Hours:  Tue. 2-3 pm (Zoom details)
Co-instructor: Teddy Roland | Office Hours: Thurs. 2-3 pm (Zoom details)

Graphic in form of Venn diagram illustrating concept of data narratives. (Brent Dykes, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)
Brent Dykes, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

“Data Stories” introduces students to an increasingly important genre of discourse in today’s society: data-driven narrative–e.g., as it appears in journalism; science, medical, and political reporting; business or government writing; and even some literary and artistic forms. The course draws on research areas with deep roots in the humanities such as narrative theory, genre theory (especially of story-driven forms spanning from prehistorical oral epics to the modern and postmodern novel), and media theory. It brings those approaches into conjunction with readings about, and examples of, data journalism and data visualization to ask this central question: how do you make a good story out of data? More fully, what is a “good” data story—one that is both impactful and socially or ethically good (by contrast, for example, with “fake news”)? Students will also learn from ethnographic research about how older societies told good data stories (e.g., how practical and social “data” was traded around the campfire at night in oral cultures). After learning about the theory and structure of narrative forms, data forms, and visualization forms, students will be asked to create a project in which they take a dataset and create a narrative about it that includes data visualizations.

In Winter 2021, “Data Stories” will be co-taught by Professor Alan Liu and Ph.D. student Teddy Roland (teaching assistant this year for the English Department’s Transcriptions Center for Digital Humanities and New Media). “Data Stories” counts as an elective for the English Department’s Literature & Culture of Information (LCI) specialization for English majors.

Credits: While this undergraduate course builds on parts of Alan Liu’s earlier 2019 graduate course on “The Humanities and Data Science,” it also draws on ideas for readings, dataset sources, or assignments volunteered by individuals (Teddy Roland, Tyler Shoemaker, Madeleine Sorapure) or scavenged from courses and resources elsewhere (e.g., Alberto Cairo’s video lessons on “Annotation and Narration”; Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice!; Miriam Posner’s 2017 “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course; and Melanie Walsh’s “Introduction to Cultural Analytics & Python” course). Special thanks to Teddy Roland for collaboration on creating the first instance of this course in Spring 2021 and co-teaching it.

Digital Humanities & New Media Studies in the UCSB English Department

URL for this page: bit.ly/liu100

 

Digital Humanities & New Media Studies in the English Dept., 1994 to present

Map of Digital Humanities & New Media Studies (Alan Liu)
Map of Digital Humanities & New Media Studies (Alan Liu)

 

Selected Projects

 

Examples of Project-based Courses

Past courses:

Current year:

Next year:

  • English 146GB (J. Douglass, Games, Books, and Gamebooks)
  • English 147VN (J. Douglass, Visual Narrative)
  • English 149 (J. Douglass, Media and Information Culture)
    • From Prof. Jeremy Douglass: “Students can also learn research methods for working with interactive print, video games, and comics / Graphic narratives in my 146GB Games Books and Gamebooks, 147VN Visual Narrative and 149 courses, although I am not offering another until next year. I am currently teaching a firstyear-only course INT 36GS How Games Tell Stories, and interested students are welcome to request guest access to the course materials.”

 

Notes and Links for Pedagogy Session on “A Digital Approach to Collaborating Across Disciplines” (Susquehanna U.)

Contexts

Literature+

Learning Outcomes
  • Collaborative Knowledge Work
  • Holistic sense of the relation between research, consultation, production, and interpretation
     
    • Research: a varied, mutually supporting repertory of activities
    • Consultation: social and expert
    • Production: a range of production outcomes:
      • Model
      • Adaptation
      • Translation
      • Performance
      • Rendering
      • Simulation
      • Deformance
      • Edition
      • Interpretation
      • Argument
      • Advocacy

Notes & Links for “Literature and Data” (Theory and Media Studies Colloquium, Yale U.)

Literature and Data
(Theory & Media Studies Colloquium, Yale Univ., Oct. 7, 2009)

ProSE
How a Romantic Became a Digital Humanist
Tom Swift

  • The Two Cultures
  • The Sense of History and Information Culture

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Department Projects

Literature+

Experimental Courses

  • English 194: Creativity and Collaboration
  • English 194: Literature+ (Spring 2007)
  • English 149: Literature+ (Winter 2008)
  • English 149: Literature+ (Winter 2009; co-taught with James Donelan)
  • English 236: Literature+ (Winter 2008)
  • Toy Chest (Online or Downloadable Tools for Building Projects)

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

    • Ideal Conclusion

      There has never been a time when world issues on the scale of globalism, terrorism, and the environment have created such a need for radical interdisciplinarity in the academy. There has never been a time when the digital tools facilitating such interdisciplinarity have been more accessible, shareable, and useable. And, from the point of view of our students (who are idealistic about the future but also worried about their careers after graduation), there has also never been a time when the workplace seems more to reward “knowledge workers” able to collaborate via digital technologies across expertises, departments, firms, and nations. My Literature+ courses are packed, drawing students from many disciplines who sense that they are in the pipeline, for better or worse, to such a future. Can the humanities prepare its students not just to survive but to shape the future into what might be called, in complementarity to Literature+ , Dataset+? I mean by this a view of the world that exceeds the usual spreadsheets, databases, reports, and other bleak expressive forms that today sum up the knowledge of business, government, etc., to afford some measure of ethical intelligence, social awareness, communicational fluency, aesthetic/design sensibility, and other cultural quotients of a robust human knowledge?

      Of course, a skeptic responding to such idealism might be suspicious that asking students to take a literary work and do anything with it other than literary interpretation in preparation for a more robust knowledge work can only be a recipe for dilution, popularization, and philistinism. But I have rarely, if ever, seen students more truly engaged with literature than in these courses, where they decide what is essential about a work that must be modeled in new paradigms and technologies so as to make literary experience tractable and manipulable in other disciplinary world views. During the studio/lab classes, I rotate among student teams to ask such questions as, “So what is this work really about? What does your project have to carry over no matter what?” Given that responsibility, students act as if they were at the sensitive stick of a jet fighter called literature.

 

What is the Relation of Literary Study to Data?

  • Exempla:
    • Shaun Sanders, Textones I, Textones II
    • Jeremy Douglass (and Lev Manovich), Cultural Analytics Project (Software Studies Program, UC San Diego)
    • Hans Rosling, demo of GapMinder software at TED (2006)
      (TED = Technology, Entertainment, Design annual conference, Monterey, CA)

      • Bio: "Rosling began his wide-ranging career as a physician, spending many years in rural Africa tracking a rare paralytic disease (which he named konzo) and discovering its cause: hunger and badly processed cassava. He co-founded Médecins sans Frontièrs (Doctors without Borders) Sweden, wrote a textbook on global health, and as a professor at the Karolinska Institut in Stockholm initiated key international research collaborations. He’s also personally argued with many heads of state, including Fidel Castro."
    • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005)
  • Some Questions:
    • What is the relation of literary study to data?

      • What do we gain, and what do we lose with "distant reading"?

      • Whither "interpretation"?

      • What is the relation between data and aesthetics?
Selected Quotations and Concepts
  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:

    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Translation
    • Performance
    • Rendering
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Notes and Links for “Introduction to a Research Slam” (May 22, 2009)

Notes for Seminar on “Literature+” (Simpson Center, U. Washington)

Question for This Seminar
Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Department Projects

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

Digital Technology and Transdisciplinarity

Paradigmatic Transdisciplinary Question

Literature+

Experimental Courses

Question for This Seminar

What is the future of “interpretation”?

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Translation
    • Performance
    • Rendering
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Notes and Links for Talk on “Digital Humanities and Academic Change” (CRASSH, Cambridge U.)

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

1. Department Projects

3. Transformation Triggered by Digital Technology

4. Global Humanism & Transdisciplinarity

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Suggestions for a 21st-Century English Department

Suggestions for a 21st-Century English Department
  1. English Departments should hire to clusters of topical or project-centered interests (e.g., literature and global media, literature and science, literature and terror) that have the potential both to foster collaboration within the department and to link up to campus-wide initiatives. Considerations of historical or field specialization should be secondary (such considerations should not be a priori, but should be generated as part of robust topics and projects).
  2. Every three years, each senior faculty member should be asked to teach a new course on a period, topic, or approach in which they are complete novices or are very uncomfortable.
  3. To foster a more genuine relation between research and teaching, one or two courses in a faculty member’s load each year should be workshop- or lab-style courses in which faculty work alongside students (grad, undergrad, or both) to produce something (e.g., an essay, a web resource, an edition, a conference, a film). At the extreme, such a course would start with no syllabus.
  4. Using teleconferencing or virtual-immersion information technology (e.g., Second Life instructional spaces), English departments at major research institutions in the U.S. should co-teach classes (if not whole courses) with instructors from significantly different areas of the world or different kinds of educational institutions. What do the topics and approaches that matter to “us” (e.g., identity, ethnicity, aesthetics, theory, culture, popular culture) look like when brought into dialgue with the needs and assumptions of students in Europe, Africa, or the East, students at a different grade level, adult students, students from a different social class, etc.?
  5. Today the assumptions that divide, and unite, “literary interpretation” and “creative writing” in a literature department should be rethought in a larger social context that privileges over both poles of that binary such goals as “innovation,” “collaboration,” and “entertainment.” In the globally competitive age of innovate-or-die and critique-by-radio-talk-show-or-blog, scholars entrenched in either interpretive critique or avant-garde creativity seem to be fighting some past war.
  6. English Departments should borrow paradigms from such departments as Engineering to establish robust, proactive internship programs that place students in a variety of for-profit, non-profit, and other organizations. Such an internship program should have a high level of visibility and supervision in the department–e.g., supported by an adviser who visits area businesses, arranges field trips for students, etc.
  7. English Departments should have a “public humanities” initiative with public events and outreach missions. Such an initiative should be coordinated alongside an extramural fund-raising campaign of the sort that other disciplines organize.

Notes and Links for Talk on “Digital Humanities and Academic Change,” Reed C.

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

1. Solo and Small-Team Projects

4. Global Humanism & Transdisciplinarity

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Notes and Links for Presentation in Lynne Siemen’s seminar on “Issues in Large Project Planning and Management” (DHSI, U. Victoria)

1. Small-Team Digital Projects

Selected UCSB English Department Small-Team Projects

Some (Tentative) Principles of Small-Team Projects

  • Team model + POST method (Forrester Research group on POST)
    • Team-first versus project-first philosophy (i.e., the difference between the academy and business)
    • Differentiation of skills/tasks
    • Parity of interests and intellectual engagement in project (“mindshare” problem)
    • Simultaneous work tracks (i.e., avoid “engineer-first” project design)
    • Project collaboration logistics:
      • hands-on supervision
      • lead research assistant
      • weekly face-to-face meetings
      • content-management-system as staging ground for work (or equivalent: blogs, wikis, Google Docs, etc.)

2. Large, Distributed Digital Projects

Selected UCSB/UC Large Collaborative Projects

Some Problems of Large, Distributed Projects

  • Normal humanities large-scale formats for working and sharing interim results not fully useful (e.g., conferences, editions)
    • Cost and logistics issues
    • Not collaborative-goal oriented
  • Need to scale modularly into multiple small-team groups (e.g., Transliteracies research working groups
  • Need to cross between disciplines
  • Need to bridge across multiple geographical locations
    • Small-scale face-to-face workshops
    • Remote meetings
    • Asynchronous use of video/audio recordings
    • Staff-to-staff financial coordination / group and task-oriented budget reporting

Notes and Links #2 for Talks on “Digital Humanities and Academic Change,”

Suggestions for a 21st-Century English Department
  1. English Departments should hire to clusters of topical or project-centered interests (e.g., literature and global media, literature and science, literature and terror) that have the potential both to foster collaboration within the department and to link up to campus-wide initiatives. Considerations of historical or field specialization should be secondary (such considerations should not be a priori, but should be generated as part of robust topics and projects).
  2. Every three years, each senior faculty member should be asked to teach a new course on a period, topic, or approach in which they are complete novices or are very uncomfortable.
  3. To foster a more genuine relation between research and teaching, one or two courses in a faculty member’s load each year should be workshop- or lab-style courses in which faculty work alongside students (grad, undergrad, or both) to produce something (e.g., an essay, a web resource, an edition, a conference, a film). At the extreme, such a course would start with no syllabus.
  4. Using teleconferencing or virtual-immersion information technology (e.g., Second Life instructional spaces), English departments at major research institutions in the U.S. should co-teach classes (if not whole courses) with instructors from significantly different areas of the world or different kinds of educational institutions. What do the topics and approaches that matter to “us” (e.g., identity, ethnicity, aesthetics, theory, culture, popular culture) look like when brought into dialgue with the needs and assumptions of students in Europe, Africa, or the East, students at a different grade level, adult students, students from a different social class, etc.?
  5. Today the assumptions that divide, and unite, “literary interpretation” and “creative writing” in a literature department should be rethought in a larger social context that privileges over both poles of that binary such desiderata as “innovation,” “collaboration,” or and “entertainment.” In the globally competitive age of innovate-or-die and critique-by-radio-talk-show-or-blog, scholars entrenched either interpretive critique or avant-garde creativity seem to be fighting some past war.
  6. English Departments should borrow paradigms from such departments as Engineering to establish robust, proactive internship programs that place students in a variety of for-profit, non-profit, and other organizations. Such an internship program should have a high level of visibility and supervision in the department–e.g., supported by an adviser who visits area businesses, arranges field trips for students, etc.
  7. English Departments should have a “public humanities” initiative with public events and outreach missions. Such an initiative should be coordinated alongside an extramural fund-raising campaign of the sort that other disciplines organize.

 

Digital Humanities (1):
Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Small-Team Projects

 

 

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

 

 

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Imitation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

 

Larger Thesis

Global Humanism

Global humanism is not an older classical or Enlightenment universal humanism–the idea that, as Sir Joshua Reynolds said, there is a “central form” of humanity. And it is also not the modernizing ideal of melting-pot or fusion humanism. Global humanism is not universality or fusion but, as we now say, diversity; not culture but multiculturalism.

(Of course, these latter terms are overused today, but that does not mean that they are just cliché or banal. They are very much alive because the larger social and semantic frameworks that give them meaning are still in the process of collision and adjustment. Diversity and multiculturalism as understood in the academic humanities today, for instance, abuts uncomfortably with the usage of those terms in such other frameworks as neo-corporatism, neo-nationalism, and even neo-regionalism.)

 

Diversity as Interdisciplinarity

But understanding global humanism requires a diversity rather than harmonium of disciplinary methods capable of revealing the seams between alternative understandings of the “human”–e.g., economic, social, political, historical, cognitive, cultural. Indeed, it may be that we do not have meaningful diversity unless it comprises lived experience refuses to fit in any single, stable organization of the various human knowledges. A case in point would be so-called “marginal” peoples who have almost no global economic or political presence but enormous local cultural, aesthetic, and historical presence only uneasily meshed with the institutions and laws of the new global world order.

 

Digital Humanities (2):
The Difference That New Media Technologies Make

Evolutionary Changes

  • Authorship ➝ collaboration, open-source, anonymity, piracy, Wikipedia
  • Refereeing ➝ not peer-review but after-the-fact-review
  • Publication ➝ not publishers but databases and search engines; not proprietary but open-access or mash-up (open-API)
  • Reading ➝ blogs, wikis, social networking: social computing)
  • Interpretation ➝ data-mining, data-visualization, etc.
  • Critical Judgement ➝ reputation, trust, information credibility
  • Teaching ➝ Co-building

Revolutionary Changes

  • New media is changing every single discipline I know both instrumentally and to the core in ways similar to the humanities.
  • New media is thus bringing each discipline’s basic paradigm of knowledge into fundamental (not just superficial) collision. (Science: interface as metaphor.) (Art: engineering.)
  • This collision of paradigms occurs across not just intra-academically but across social sectors: business (e.g., spreadsheets, team collaboration).
  • Hence: “Literature+”
  • Hence: reshaping the profession (see my “Suggestions for a 21st-Century English department”).

 

What the Humanities Offer in Return
  • Ambiguity: areas where qualitative judgements have to be made based on data that in which there are crucial quantitative gaps due to technical or social reasons.
  • Big Humanities:
    • KAREN (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network)
    • Cathy Davison on “Big Humanities” (e.g., Shoah Foundation visual/online testimony project with its 200 terabytes of data).
    • NEH/DOE Humanities High Performance Computing Program (“The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for humanities scholars whose research requires high performance computing to collaborate with computer scientists and others at centers already familiar with the challenges of intensive data mining, visualization, and other demanding applications.”)

 

Notes and Links #1 for Talks on “Digital Humanities and Academic Change,” U. Chicago

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Small-Team Projects

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Notes and Links for Talks on “Digital Humanities and Academic Change,” Rutgers U., 2 May 2008)

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Small-Team Projects

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Notes and Links #2 for Talks on “Digital Humanities and Academic Change,” Rutgers U., 2 May

Suggestions for a 21st-Century English Department
  1. English Departments should hire to clusters of topical or project-centered interests (e.g., literature and global media, literature and science, literature and terror) that have the potential both to foster collaboration within the department and to link up to campus-wide initiatives. Considerations of historical or field specialization should be secondary (such considerations should not be a priori, but should be generated as part of robust topics and projects).
  2. Every three years, each senior faculty member should be asked to teach a new course on a period, topic, or approach in which they are complete novices or are very uncomfortable.
  3. To foster a more genuine relation between research and teaching, one or two courses in a faculty member’s load each year should be workshop- or lab-style courses in which faculty work alongside students (grad, undergrad, or both) to produce something (e.g., an essay, a web resource, an edition, a conference, a film). At the extreme, such a course would start with no syllabus.
  4. Using teleconferencing or virtual-immersion information technology (e.g., Second Life instructional spaces), English departments at major research institutions in the U.S. should co-teach classes (if not whole courses) with instructors from significantly different areas of the world or different kinds of educational institutions. What do the topics and approaches that matter to “us” (e.g., identity, ethnicity, aesthetics, theory, culture, popular culture) look like when brought into dialgue with the needs and assumptions of students in Europe, Africa, or the East, students at a different grade level, adult students, students from a different social class, etc.?
  5. Today the assumptions that divide, and unite, “literary interpretation” and “creative writing” in a literature department should be rethought in a larger social context that privileges over both poles of that binary such desiderata as “innovation,” “collaboration,” or and “entertainment.” In the globally competitive age of innovate-or-die and critique-by-radio-talk-show-or-blog, scholars entrenched either interpretive critique or avant-garde creativity seem to be fighting some past war.
  6. English Departments should borrow paradigms from such departments as Engineering to establish robust, proactive internship programs that place students in a variety of for-profit, non-profit, and other organizations. Such an internship program should have a high level of visibility and supervision in the department–e.g., supported by an adviser who visits area businesses, arranges field trips for students, etc.
  7. English Departments should have a “public humanities” initiative with public events and outreach missions. Such an initiative should be coordinated alongside an extramural fund-raising campaign of the sort that other disciplines organize.

 

Digital Humanities (1):
Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Small-Team Projects

 

 

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

 

 

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

 

Larger Thesis

Global Humanism

Global humanism is not an older classical or Enlightenment universal humanism–the idea that, as Sir Joshua Reynolds said, there is a “central form” of humanity. And it is also not the modernizing ideal of melting-pot or fusion humanism. Global humanism is not universality or fusion but, as we now say, diversity; not culture but multiculturalism.

(Of course, these latter terms are overused today, but that does not mean that they are just cliché or banal. They are very much alive because the larger social and semantic frameworks that give them meaning are still in the process of collision and adjustment. Diversity and multiculturalism as understood in the academic humanities today, for instance, abuts uncomfortably with the usage of those terms in such other frameworks as neo-corporatism, neo-nationalism, and even neo-regionalism.)

 

Diversity as Interdisciplinarity

But understanding global humanism requires a diversity rather than harmonium of disciplinary methods capable of revealing the seams between alternative understandings of the “human”–e.g., economic, social, political, historical, cognitive, cultural. Indeed, it may be that we do not have meaningful diversity unless it comprises lived experience refuses to fit in any single, stable organization of the various human knowledges. A case in point would be so-called “marginal” peoples who have almost no global economic or political presence but enormous local cultural, aesthetic, and historical presence only uneasily meshed with the institutions and laws of the new global world order.

 

Digital Humanities (2):
The Difference That New Media Technologies Make

Evolutionary Changes

  • Authorship ➝ collaboration, open-source, anonymity, piracy, Wikipedia
  • Refereeing ➝ not peer-review but after-the-fact-review
  • Publication ➝ not publishers but databases and search engines; not proprietary but open-access or mash-up (open-API)
  • Reading ➝ blogs, wikis, social networking: social computing)
  • Interpretation ➝ data-mining, data-visualization, etc.
  • Critical Judgement ➝ reputation, trust, information credibility
  • Teaching ➝ Co-building

Revolutionary Changes

  • New media is changing every single discipline I know both instrumentally and to the core in ways similar to the humanities.
  • New media is thus bringing each discipline’s basic paradigm of knowledge into fundamental (not just superficial) collision. (Science: interface as metaphor.) (Art: engineering.)
  • This collision of paradigms occurs across not just intra-academically but across social sectors: business (e.g., spreadsheets, team collaboration).
  • Hence: “Literature+”
  • Hence: reshaping the profession (see my “Suggestions for a 21st-Century English department”).

 

What the Humanities Offer in Return
  • Ambiguity: areas where qualitative judgements have to be made based on data that in which there are crucial quantitative gaps due to technical or social reasons.
  • Big Humanities:
    • KAREN (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network)
    • Cathy Davison on “Big Humanities” (e.g., Shoah Foundation visual/online testimony project with its 200 terabytes of data).
    • NEH/DOE Humanities High Performance Computing Program (“The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for humanities scholars whose research requires high performance computing to collaborate with computer scientists and others at centers already familiar with the challenges of intensive data mining, visualization, and other demanding applications.”)

 

Link library for Alan’s presentation at the graduate seminar on “The Truth of the Humanities” related to the lecture series

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Small-Team Projects

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

Selected Quotations and Concepts

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005):

    Moretti collage“But within that old territory [of literature], a new object of study: instead of concrete, individual works, a trio of artificial constructs–graphs, maps, and trees–in which the reality of the text undergoes a process of deliberate reduction and abstraction. ‘Distant reading,’ I have once call this type of approach; where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge: fewer elements, hence a sharper sense of their overall interconnection. Shapes, relations, structures. Forms. Models” (p. 1).

  • Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (2005):

    “By ‘modelling’ I mean the heuristic process of constructing and manipulating models: a ‘model’ I take to be either a representation of something for purposes of study, or a design for realizing something new…. Two effects of computing sharpen the distinction between ‘concept’ on the one hand and the ‘model’ on the other: first, the computational demand for tractability, i.e. for complete explicitness and absolute consistency; second, the manipulability that a digital representation provides…. Take, for example, knowledge one might have of a particular concentration in a deeply familiar work of literature. In modelling one begins by privileging this knowledge, however wrong it might later turn out to be, then building a computational representation of it, e.g. by specifying a structured vocabulary of word-forms in a text-analysis tool. In the initial stages of use, this model would be almost certain to reveal trivial errors of omission and commission. Gradually, however, through perfective iteration trivial error is replaced by meaningful surprise . . . either by a success we cannot explain . . . or by a likewise inexplicable failure” (pp. 24, 25, 25-26)

  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999):

    “The usual object of interpretation is “meaning,” or some set of ideas that can be cast in thematic form. These meanings are sought in different ways: as though resident ‘in’ the work, or evoked through ‘reader-response,’ or deconstructable through a process that would reinstall a structure of intelligibility at a higher, more critical level…. In this paper we want to propose–or recall–another way of engaging imaginative work…. The alternative moves to break beyond conceptual analysis into the kinds of knowledge involved in performative operations–a practice of everyday imaginative life. We will argue that concept-based interpretation, reading along thematic lines, is itself best understood as a particular type of performative and rhetorical operation…. In an undated fragment on a leaf of stationery, Emily Dickinson wrote what appears to be one of her ‘letters to the world’: ‘Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you? I sometimes (often have, many times) have–a Something overtakes the Mind’ (Prose Fragment 30)…. Our deformations do not flee from the question, or the generation, of ‘meaning.’ Rather, they try to demonstrate–the way one demonstrates how to make something, or do something … that ‘meaning’ in imaginative work is a secondary phenomenon, a kind of meta-data, what Blake called a form of worship ‘Dependent’ upon some primary poetical tale. This point of view explains why, in our deformative maneuvers, interpretive lines of thought spin out of some initial nondiscursive ‘experiment’ with the primary materials. ‘Meaning’ is important not as explanation but as residue. It is what is left behind after the experiment has been run” (pp. 26, 48).

  • The unstable continuum between modeling and interpreting:
    • Model
    • Adaptation
    • Rendering
    • Translation
    • Simulation
    • Deformance
    • Edition
    • Interpretation

Link Library for “Digital Humanities and Academic Change” (U. Colorado, Boulder)

Selected UCSB English Department Digital Initiatives

Small-Team Projects

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

Link Library #2 (for Meetings in New Zealand, Aug.-Sept. 2007)

Materials Related to Digital Strategy, Digital Capability Development, and the Humanities in New Zealand

Selected Quotations:

1. First sentences of the Foreword to “The Digital Strategy” by the Minister of Information Technology and of Communications (David Cunliffe): “There’s a buzz about New Zealand right now. We have vibrant communities. We have innovative people and companies at the creative cutting-edge.”

2. From “The Digital Strategy”: “It is important that we keep all the dimensions of the Digital Strategy in line. Content, Connection, and Confidence are the three enablers. Connection is necessary but not sufficient — it simply provides the means. Confidence gives us the skills and a secure online environment, whilst accessing or creating Content provides a compelling reason to make it happen.”

3. In the “The Digital Strategy,” the section on “Why We Need a Digital Strategy” begins: “The information we access through digital technologies can promote innovation, increase productivity, and enrich the quality of our lives. Content creation is not only a global business — now it can be anyone’s business. Using digital technologies to create and access our distinctive cultural content enhances our identity as New Zealanders. ICT helps us unlock our stores of national content, making them accessible to all, and it is a powerful tool for directing and expressing our creativity.”

4. From Draft New Zealand Digital Content Strategy: “The appropriate mechanisms are also needed to unlock New Zealand’s stock of current and future content, in part to provide a supply of high quality content to stimulate demand and uptake of digital technology. In stimulating demand for content however, we must also protect, preserve and promote our heritage and cultural identities, in an environment open to being swamped by the widening access to international content. Maori language, knowledge and culture, a vital part of New Zealand’s identity, is particularly vulnerable to being drowned out or appropriated by international interests unless adequately protected.”

5. From an appendix of the Council of Humanities “Research Policy Paper” (the appendix is a table titled “Sketch of the Cultural Knowledge Research System”): “Research Mode: Primarily interpretive, but including creative and social scientific methodologies. Research Outcomes: Including: Peer-reviewed academic research, contract research, catalogues . . . , conferences and seminars,[etc.]”

 

Observations

  • The primary goal of the national digital strategy is to bring New Zealand front and center as a postindustrial “knowledge society” in which the premium value is “innovative” or “creative” knowledge.
  • But one of the distinctive premium values of New Zealand is heritage, including Maori language and culture.
  • A national digital strategy should allow New Zealand fully to access—and fully be accessed by—global informational, economic, social, and cultural networks.
  • But New Zealand must protect itself from those global networks.
  • The driver of the whole digital strategy is national “content,” which is to be “preserved.”
  • Except when it is being “unlocked.”
  • Neither of those verbs having any apparent relation to the master verbs of the strategy: “create” and “innovate.”
  • Capability-development initiatives in support of the national digital strategy are BIG (KAREN, BESTGRID, Cultural Portals, etc.).
  • But much of the distinctive culture and heritage of the nation starts small: at the level of the local “community,” which wouldn’t know what to do with a GRID if it met one.

 

Link Library (for Meetings in New Zealand, Aug.-Sept. 2007)

Selected Web Sites

Collaborative Research or Curricular Development Projects

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