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"Interdisciplining Digital Humanities"

Thursday, April 9, 2015
12:00 AM
Institute for the Humanities, 202 S. Thayer, #1022

Digital Humanities is a field of increasing interest in academic research and education as well as the public sphere. Julie Thompson Klein, former Mellon fellow and visiting professor in the Institute for the Humanities, will frame the session with an overview of interdisciplinary contours of the field. University of Michigan graduate students Elizabeth Rodrigues and Emily Klancher Merchant will then present their current work.

Julie Thompson Klein

Julie Klein will moderate and establish a framework based on her book Interdisciplining Digital Humanities (in the series Digital Humanities@digitalculturebooks at University of Michigan Press). The book tests the widespread claim that digital humanities is an interdisciplinary field by sorting through definitions and practices over roughly 65 years. By examining the boundary work of constructing, expanding, and sustaining a new field, it depicts the ways the field is being situated within individual domains as well as cross-fertilizations fostering new relationships across boundaries. The chapters span Interdisciplining, Defining, Institutionalizing, Educating, Collaborating and Rewarding, with a final compilation of resources.

Julie Thompson Klein is Professor of Humanities in the English Department and Faculty Fellow for Interdisciplinary Development in the Division of Research at Wayne State University. Her areas of expertise are digital humanities, interdisciplinarity, and team science.

Elizabeth Rodrigues

While literary scholarship has begun to debate the meanings and merits of big data, small, and even medium data, these discussions tend to assume “data” has only become important for humanists since the emergence of computational and Web-based tools for analysis. Rodrigues's work seeks to expand this technology-dependent view by contextualizing the aspirations and methods of present-day humanities data collection in a longer arc of humanist empiricism demonstrated by the social science methodologies and narrative experiments of writers such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Adams, and Gertrude Stein.

Liz Rodrigues is a PhD candidate in English Language & Literature at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation project, "Data-driven Modernism," explores data as an epistemological concept, representational form, and modernist aesthetic.

Emily Klancher Merchant

Drawing from her dissertation research on the history of demography, Emily Klancher Merchant will discuss the use of digital methods to trace and map the formation of disciplines and interdisciplinarity. In this presentation, journal articles from the field of demography across the twentieth century become data points, linked together by their authors into a chronological series of conceptual maps of the field and its relationships to demography’s “parent” disciplines of sociology, economics, and public health. Klancher-Merchant will use this research to explore questions about the formation of interdisciplinary fields and the concept of interdisciplinary.

Emily  Klancher Merchant is a PhD candidate in the department of history, finishing a dissertation titled “Prediction and Control: Global Population, Population Science, and Population Politics in the Twentieth Century." This fall she will begin a postdoctoral fellowship in the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College.