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Relationship between the digital and the material explored at upcoming humanities forum

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities (IDRH) will host its third-annual Digital Humanities Forum on the KU Lawrence campus Sept. 12-14. The three-day forum is open to the public and will offer workshops on new digital tools for working with text, sound and multimedia, a free-form conference on academic technology in the humanities, and presentations by national and international scholars.

In an increasingly digital world, academic practices must reflect and adapt to advancing technologies and expanded access to information. In the humanities, this often means making use of digital tools and methods to study physical objects and phenomena, the increasing availability of historical objects and resources in digital format, and notions of materiality that may persist, or be transformed, in the digital realm. This year’s forum, culminating with a conference titled "Return to the Material" will examine this relationship as well as demonstrate recent research and innovations made in the field.

"This year's theme reflects recent digital humanities discussions and research that are refocusing our attention on ‘the material’ in various senses," said Brian Rosenblum, co-director of IDRH and head of KU Libraries’ Center for Faculty Initiatives and Engagement. "This includes the emergence of digital-to-physical technologies such as 3-D printing, efforts at creating 3-D historical simulations incorporating light and texture, studying and incorporating the use of historical sound and examining the persistence of physical characteristics of books in their digitized versions."

The first two days of the forum will feature hands-on workshops designed to familiarize participants with several different tools for mining, analyzing and visualizing text, using sound in the classroom, and creating multimedia publications. The second day will include the annual THATCamp Kansas meeting at Watson Library. THATCamp sessions are academic "unconferences" structured for spontaneous collaboration, with topics of discussion being determined freely by participants as the meeting begins. The forum will conclude in the Kansas Union with the "Return to the Material" conference, a one-day program of panels and exhibits showcasing researchers and their latest projects and contributions to the digital humanities.

In addition to displaying research, each day of the forum will feature a keynote presentation. Keynote speakers include:

  • Whitney Trettien, PhD Candidate at Duke University, "Short-Circuiting the Hardware of History" Thursday, Sept. 12, 4:30 p.m., Spencer Museum of Art, reception to follow
  • Colin Allen, Director of Cognitive Science Program and Provost Professor of History & Philosophy of Science at Indiana University-Bloomington, "Linking Big Data to Fine Analysis: the Challenge of Textual Methods in the Digital Humanities" Friday, Sept. 13, 4:30 p.m., Watson Library 3 West
  • Jentery Sayers, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Victoria, "Fabrications, or How to Lie with Computer Vision" Saturday, Sept. 14, 11:15 a.m., Alderson Auditorium, Kansas Union

The forum is free and open to participants beyond KU, but space is limited. To register or learn more, visit idrh.ku.edu/dhforum2013 or contact idrh@ku.edu.

The Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities was created to address a growing need on campus for digital services and expertise in humanities research. The institute, created through a partnership of KU Libraries, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, supports and enhances humanities research at KU. Its mission is to promote the use of computing technology to advance humanistic scholarship across disciplines, publish and disseminate scholarly research through new Web-based models, and study the impact of technology on society and on the scholarly record.