Published: Jan. 27, 2019

The digital humanities—which lie at the nexus of computing and the humanities—are the subject of a symposium at the University of Colorado Boulder next month.

Liu and Posner

Alan Liu and Miriam Posner

The symposium, dubbed English + Media & Technology, will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Center for British & Irish Studies (Norlin Library room M549). The event is free and open to the public. It will feature two national experts and thought leaders from CU Boulder.

Jane Garrity, CU Boulder professor of English and one of the symposium’s organizers, said the event is designed to jump-start interest in the emerging interdisciplinary field and potentially pave the way for a new major at CU Boulder.

The event will feature lectures by Alan Liu, distinguished professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Miriam Posner, assistant professor at the UCLA School of Information.

Liu’s presentation is titled “Digital Humanities Learning Goals for Undergraduates.” Liu says he will address this question from two perspectives “whose synthesis will be increasingly important for students in their careers and for society in general: the humanities and data science.” 

One critical question, Liu states, is how learning digital methods can help students understand the humanities better, and how can such understanding contribute to a world ever more influenced by data science. 

He added: “Supposing that the ultimate goal of (digital humanities) in the classroom is a humane data science, what kinds of approaches, methods, and skills should students learn to work and live in a world where data might fulfill the root promise of its name as ‘science’ by being good ‘knowledge’?”

Posner’s presentation is titled “Digital Humanities at the Actually Existing University.” She observes: “Rhetoric about digital-humanities education and research conjures a world with infinite time and no resource constraints. But that’s emphatically not the case at real-world universities.”

Posner will discuss how to prioritize goals, assess results, and serve students best in this environment. “This talk will discuss how we approached the problem at UCLA and detail some strategies that have been successful there and elsewhere.”

About the conference
What: English + Media & Technology
When: Friday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 
Where: Center for British & Irish Studies, Norlin Library M549 
10 a.m. – Alan Liu, guest speaker 
11:30 a.m. – Miriam Posner, guest speaker 
12:45-1:45 p.m. – Lunch, catered  
2-3:30 p.m. – “Hands-on Learning: Collaborative Labs Roundtable” 
4-5 p.m. – Conversation with Graduate Students

Liu has worked in the areas of digital humanities, the humanities in public life, Romantic literature, and literary and cultural theory. His most recently book is Friending the Past: The Sense of History in the Digital Age. He is founder and co-leader of the advocacy initiative and principal investigator of the Mellon Foundation funded 4Humanities WhatEvery1Says project.

Posner is a digital humanist with interests in labor, race, feminism and the history and philosophy of data. As a digital humanist, she is particularly interested in the visualization of large bodies of data from cultural heritage institutions, and the application of digital methods to the analysis of images and video. 

A film, media, and American studies scholar by training, she frequently writes on the application of digital methods to the humanities. She is at work on two projects: the first on what “data” might mean for humanistic research; and the second on how multinational corporations are making use of data in their supply chains.

Also speaking during the symposium are CU Boulder English faculty Adam BradleyLori EmersonDavid Glimp and Rachael Deagman Simonetta.

The event is sponsored by the Department of English. For more information, contact Alyssa Miller.