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Lecture: Digital_Humanities: Explorations of the Space Between with Todd Presner
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 5:30-7:30 pm
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
In an age of instantaneous information access, endless social networking, and data deluge, what’s left of the core practices and values of the Humanities, which have privileged, at least traditionally, reflective contemplation, books and reading, the search for meaning, and informed cultural critique? What happens to the Humanities when confronted with the possibilities of the digital information age, and what happens to the digital information age when confronted with the millennia-long history of the Humanities? In this talk, Todd Presner argues for the centrality of the Humanities in its long and complex history for critical digital thought and innovation. Digital Humanities opens up ways to understand the history of knowledge systems and expose structuring assumptions built into new technologies, create for ambiguity and uncertainty (not for overcoming it), situate knowledge within trans-historical and trans-cultural contexts, recognize the importance of design for multiplicity and heterogeneity, and bring certain values such as ‘participation without condition’ and responsible citizenship into the forefront of the networked age. Presner will demonstrate these concepts with reference to a series of projects in the Digital Humanities and argue for the deep link between “digital” and “humanities” as a way to thoughtfully critique new technologies and build for a more humane future.
This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
Todd Presner is Chair of UCLA’s Digital Humanities program and is Professor of Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature. He is also the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. He is the founder and director of HyperCities, a digital mapping project, and most recently a co-author of the book, Digital_Humanities (MIT Press, 2012), with Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, and Jeffrey Schnapp. He just completed a book called HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities (Harvard UP, 2013). His current project is a called "The Ethics of the Algorithm" and examines the 50,000+ Holocaust testimonies of the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive in order to explore how a database or information architecture can be "ethical."