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Research and Digital Environments

The Institute for the Humanities regularly hosts scholars, from the University of Michigan and elsewhere, for an afternoon lecture and discussion. Below are some of the recent events that have been sponsored by the Digital Currents project.

Winter 2014

Algorithmic Culture
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Ted Striphas (associate professor in the Department of Communication & Culture, Indiana University) shared research from his forthcoming book about the history of algorithmic culture in the U.S., from the postwar years to the Netflix prize.

Analytics, Architectures, & Archives

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

What implications do media infrastructures have on the way we work, interact, and live? The Digital Currents project welcomed scholars with a diversity of disciplinary perspectives to discuss the complications of our digital present to this mini-conference.


Mary Gray, Microsoft Research & Indiana University
“Crowdsourcing Piecework: The Geopolitics of Digital Labor”

Lisa Nakamura, University of Michigan
“Evil Media: The Market for Primitive Africa in Internet Vigilante Trophy Websites”

Molly Wright Steenson, University of Wisconsin

"Data Places"

Markup the Bodies: African Diaspora, Ph.D. and Blogging Slavery as Radical Media
Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Jessica Marie Johnson (assistant professor of history at Michigan State University) has curated the blog African Diaspora, Ph.D., a digital humanities resource highlighting research, teaching, scholarship, and scholars in the field of Atlantic African Diaspora history, since 2008. Her research and teaching encompass the study of women, gender, and sexuality during the period of Atlantic slavery, as well as digital media-making, social media, and digital history. In this lecture, Johnson discussed the blog, slavery, scholarly production, power, and doing difficult histories online.

Digital Play: Mapping Journeys and Digitizing Stories
Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Anita Gonzalez (professor of theatre & drama, UofM) discussed how digital technologies dynamically visualize stories and histories. What are best practices in developing digital history research with students? Gonzalez is currently working with University of Michigan library staff on a prototype web-based, geo-spatial, interactive tool that maps the life, travels, performances, cultural context and repertoire of the 19th-century actor Ira Aldridge.

The Labors of Albert Kahn
Friday, March 21st, 2014

Claire Zimmerman (associate professor of history of art and the coordinator of doctoral studies in architecture at UofM's Taubman College) lectured on the challenges of studying an architectural archive of immense size, and the work of an architect closely associated with twentieth-century industrialization. Albert Kahn’s important role in key events of twentieth-century history is widely acknowledged, but his stature in architecture is contended, despite the outsize importance of his work for the development of Amerikanismus in all its European contexts. As preparatory to an exhibition proposal on Kahn’s work, this talk surveyed the ground, and the historical and art historical problems subsumed therein.

Time for a Thaw: Visibility, Exclusion, and Futures of Digital Humanities
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Martha Nell Smith (professor of English and founding director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland) spoke about issues of authority, authoritative, and authoritarian, issues of access, meditation, and remediation, and issues of visibility and exclusion. At a time when feminist, critical race, sexuality, and class critical inquiries have had such a profound effect (and for decades) in the humanities, the configurations of mainstream, NEH-funded digital humanities are often similar to the politics of exclusion and occlusion we have worked so long to transform so that one emerging feminist scholar imagines that queer worlds must be built in the “digital margins”? What are the consequences of such frozen social orders when they are made to seem objective features of intellectual life?