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DH Long View Seminar Series: Mark Algee-Hewitt on "Laboratory Life in the Humanities: Computation, Criticism, and Collaboration"

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June 22, 2021 - 12:00pm
Online via Zoom

The Digital Humanities have profoundly altered the way that humanities scholars work, research, and teach. While the introduction of computational methods, from GIS, to Digital Archives, to Text Mining, have opened up new fields to practitioners, these fields have also changed the social fabric of the humanities. Although the myth of the lone scholar, toiling away in their office, or in the archives, remains deeply embedded in the psyche of the discipline, the growing influence of the Digital Humanities has begun to offer scholars other opportunities for research work and teaching. Not only are our new methods collaborative by nature, they are often collaborative by necessity, frequently requiring us to work in teams that can leverage different experience and skills towards a set of research goals. In this talk, I want to explore the ramifications of this shift in research practice, focusing on the sociology of the humanities lab, as distinct from both the science laboratory, and the traditional practices of History, Classics, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, and Literary Study. How has the collaborative nature of our work altered the kinds of research that we can produce? How has interdisciplinary cooperation challenged ideas of evidence, method and results in the humanities? How has the collaborative model of research changed our pedagogy? What new kinds of equality, and inequality, between faculty, staff and students, has this change enabled? And what does it mean to work collaborative in fields whose institutional structures persist in disincentivizing collaboration? Drawing on my own experience working at, and directing, the Stanford Literary Lab, an ongoing collaborative research group that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, I want to focus on the outstanding questions that we are only now beginning to address around this radical shift in the humanities.

Mark Algee-Hewitt is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the English Department at Stanford University and the Director of the Stanford Literary Lab. His work focuses on the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in England and Germany and seeks to combine literary criticism with digital and quantitative analyses of literary texts.

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