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What Counts as Contemporary Fiction? Scale, Value, and Field

James-English James English, Professor of English and Director of the Penn Humanities ForumUniversity of Pennsylvania
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, October 20, 201512:30 pm

Scholars of contemporary fiction face special challenges in making the turn toward digitized corpora and empirical method. Their field is one of exceptionally large and uncertain scale, subject to ongoing transformation and dispute, and shrouded in copyright. I will present one possible way forward, based on my work for a special issue of Modern Language Quarterly on “Scale & Value” that I’m co-editing with Ted Underwood. My project uses quantitative relationships among mid-sized, hand-made datasets to map the field of Anglophone fiction from 1960 to the present. Some significant findings of this research concern a shift in the typical time-setting of the novel and a concomitant change in the relationship between literary commerce and literary prestige.

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A Woman's Touch: Manual Labor, Pink Collar Workers, and Feminist New Media Origin Stories

Elizabeth_Losh Elizabeth Losh, Associate Professor of English and American StudiesCollege of William and Mary@lizlosh
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, October 6, 201512:30 pm

The study of computational media still has far to go when it comes to contradicting the solo white male inventor myths that are often reified in mainstream culture, although recent work in media archaeology that emphasizes the manual labor of participants with the apparatus is changing the narrative about the rise of software culture. It is perhaps useful to make comparisons to film studies, where scholarship about the role of labor, organizational communication, institutional rhetoric, domestic politics, systems of credit, and “below the line” production activities has long challenged the model of the lone auteur. Just as women were critical actors in the Hollywood saga in intensely collaborative roles such as casting and editing, pioneering work in computer graphics, virtual reality, interactive entertainment, and multimedia publishing reflected a collective production culture and its associated conflicts. Media studies could still do much more to recover social histories currently stored in informal archives, often in obsolete file formats, to support feminist scholarship, as part of the larger theoretical project of acknowledging the material, embodied, affective, situated, and labor-intensive character of technology. This talk focuses specifically on manual labor in the supply chain of digital media and how many hands don’t make light work. . . . Continue Reading

Do read the comments: Designing digital editions for a public humanities conversation

Amanda Visconti Avatar Amanda Visconti, Winnemore Digital Dissertation FellowMaryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities@Literature_Geek
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, April 28, 201512:30 pm

NOTE: This talk was originally scheduled for April 7, 2015, but had to be canceled due to a campus-wide power outage.

“How can you love a work, if you don’t know it? How can you know it, if you can’t get near it? How can you get near it, without editors?”
— Gary Taylor, “The Renaissance and the End of Editing”

Scholarly editors are an integral part of the continuum that keeps the stories of the past available to and understood by the present—but in Taylor’s formulation, the “you” is just as important: that public of readers beyond the academy whose interest keeps the humanities alive and relevant. This talk will explore how we can design digital archives and editions to be more than simply publicly accessible. With changes to how we do digital humanities interface design, we can take the extra step of inviting and assisting participation in our love for the nuances of a text’s materiality, history, and meaning.

I’ll address how my “Infinite Ulysses” digital edition draws on participatory design, social mechanics successful on non-academic sites, and user testing to support a public audience. . . . Continue Reading

Between the Document and the Digital Map: The Need for the Archive and GIS to Analyze the Nazi Built Environment

Paul-Jaskot Paul Jaskot, Professor, History of Art and ArchitectureDePaul University@PBJaskot
Collaboratory for Visual CultureMonday, March 30, 201512:30 pmCo-sponsored by the Art History & Archaeology Department

Please note that this Digital Dialogue is a special co-sponsored talk in conjunction the Art History & Archaeology Department, and occurs on a different weekday and location.

The Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture is located in Room 4213 of the Art and Sociology Building.  Click here for a map.

The Central Building Office at Auschwitz was for its time one of the largest architectural offices in Europe with over 150 SS architects and engineers employed as well as an equal number of forced-labor draftsmen. It was these architects who literally built the infrastructure of imperialist expansion in the East, as well was the brutal complementary structures of the Jewish genocide.

This talk analyzes the documentary evidence of the imperial ambitions of the SS as well as the digital visualizations of that archival evidence. Building off of his current work on digitally mapping the site (with his co-author, Anne Kelly Knowles), Jaskot asks what is at stake for digital mapping in the humanities, as well as for a spatial and architectural understanding of the Holocaust.


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Performing the Digital Edition: Textual Scholarship and the Digital Consumption of Music Scores

Raffaele-Viglianti Raffaele Viglianti, Research ProgrammerMaryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities@raffazizzi
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, March 24, 201512:30 pm

What is the future of sheet music? The flexibility of the digital medium, as opposed to the rigidity of the printed form, calls for a more modern concept of the music score.

Even digital sheet music, in most cases, is designed to be printed; it is either produced with typesetting software, or made of images scanned from a printed source. This type of digital score exists in digital form almost exclusively for distribution. The difference between print and digital distribution is access: scores can be downloaded and printed at home.

Digital consumption, on the other hand, entails reading and performing the score directly from its digital manifestation. Small businesses are already investing in technologies to make the score follow the performer while playing, to support writing and displaying annotations by the performer, a teacher, other peers, etc.

In this talk, I’ll address the current status of digital sheet music publication and ask: can the digital consumption of a changeable, customizable publication influence a performer’s advocacy of a work? Textual scholarship and the preparation of critical editions is a fundamental component of this discussion, where I’ll convey editorial transparency as a vital function of digital consumption. . . . Continue Reading

Head-and-Shoulder Hunting in the Americas: Exploring Lobotomy's Visual Culture

miriam-posner Miriam Posner, Program Coordinator, Digital HumanitiesUniversity of California, Los Angeles@miriamkp
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, March 10, 201512:30 pm

Walter Freeman, the world’s foremost proponent and practitioner of lobotomy, was also an obsessive photographer. He almost invariably took photos of his patients before and after surgery, often tracking them down years after the operation to capture their images. These cross-country trips to photograph patients, which Freeman called head-and-shoulder hunting expeditions, consumed the physician during the last years of his career.

What do we do with an archive like this? Its contents can tell us volumes about the medical epistemology that made lobotomy thinkable. But how can we avoid replicating Freeman’s own rhetorical moves, in which the photographs were mobilized as evidence during scientific presentations?

I’ll describe the visual rhetoric that defined the scientific moment from which lobotomy emerged, and demonstrate some digital methods I’ve used for placing them in context. Against the background of this history, I ask, what is the contemporary digital scholar’s responsibility for working with, writing about, and displaying images of human beings in distress?

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Kill Time, Make History: Building Inspector and other HCI Case Studies from NYPL Labs

mauricio-giraldo Mauricio Giraldo, Interaction Designer/DeveloperNYPL Labs@mgiraldo
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, March 3, 201512:30 pm

I’m currently an interaction designer at NYPL Labs, The New York Public Library’s digital innovation unit. One of our latest projects is Building Inspector, a tool to extract data from historic insurance atlases through a combination of computational (vectorization, computer vision, alpha shapes) and human (crowdsourcing, game design concepts) processes. This talk will provide an insight into the Building Inspector and other projects developed by NYPL Labs, with an emphasis on design and HCI-related challenges. For instance: how does one design tools that anyone can use regardless of prior knowledge, to validate computer-generated geographic data or to create stereographic images from 100-year-old photographs?


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Strata of Sentience: Deep Mapping the Media City

shannon-mattern Shannon Mattern, Associate Professor of Media StudiesThe New School@shannonmattern
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, February 24, 201512:30 pm

While “smart” cities and urban “sentience” seem to be products of new networked technologies, our cities have actually been mediated, and intelligent, for millennia. They’ve long been shaped by their roles as substrates for and containers of mediation, and they’ve long reflected the logics, politics, and aesthetics of their prevailing communications technologies. I advocate for an “urban media archaeology,” a materialist, multisensory approach to exploring the deep material history – that is, a cultural materialist history that acknowledges the physicality, the “stuff” of history and culture – of our media cities. This talk offers a preview of Deep Mapping the Media City, a book forthcoming (in March 2015) from the University of Minnesota Press’s Forerunners series, in which I investigate our material urban spaces as infrastructures for mediation, and I propose that archaeological tools, like excavation and mapping, might help us to acknowledge and understand our smart, mediated cities in the longue durée.

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The Platonic Network

Alex-Wright Alex Wright, Author, Designer and ResearcherEtsy, The New York Times, and IBM@alexgrantwright
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, November 11, 201412:30 pm

In 1934, a little-known Belgian bibliographer named Paul Otlet described something very much like the World Wide Web, sketching out plans for a network of “electric telescopes” connecting people to a vast collection of documents, images, and audio-visual material. He dubbed the whole thing the Mundaneum, describing it as a “réseau mondial” – a worldwide web.

Why should anyone still pay attention to the failed schemes of a long-dead Belgian bibliographer? Otlet’s work matters today not just as a kind of historical curio, but because he envisioned a radically different kind of network: one driven not by corporate profit and personal vanity, but by a utopian vision of intellectual progress, social egalitarianism, and even spiritual liberation.

This presentation will delve deep into Otlet’s alternative vision of a global network, in search of useful lessons that could reshape our understanding of what the Web could yet become.

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Strange Bedfellows: Digital Humanities, Internet Art, and the Weird Internet

Darius-Kazemi Darius Kazemi, Independent Artist@tinysubversions
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, November 4, 201412:30 pm

Kazemi will discuss the “Weird Internet,” a wildly popular creative internet-native subculture, and its intersections with Digital Humanities and Internet Art (in the fine arts tradition).

The Big Data approach to analysis of texts is painfully limited in the knowledge it can produce. This talk will take Bruno Latour’s Compositionist Manifesto as well as the speaker’s personal history as a professional “online metrics” analyst as a jumping off point. We will look at  the composition of autonomous  agents and static texts alike, specifically the weird internet and internet art. We’ll see what these things do and discuss ways to send probes out into the world, and what can tell us that we can never gain through analysis of corpora.

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