Political Ideology in Electronic Objects

Friday, December 1, 12:00-1:15 pm
Williams 013 (“Common Room,” basement level)

Political Ideology in Electronic Objects: A Conversation with Rob Duarte

Students, scholars, and aficionados of visual and material rhetorics, new media poetics, gaming technology, user experience, and speculative fiction may be especially interested in our final meeting of the semester. Digital Scholars welcomes Rob Duarte, Assistant Professor in Art and co-Director of the FSU Facility for Arts Research, for a discussion of the relationship between people and their technologies. More specifically, Duarte will invite us to consider the potentialities of critical making, the parameters of critical engineering, and the relationships between the material world of electronic objects and the im/materialities of language, poetry, and text. Drawing on his recent artist-in-residency at University of Colorado’s Media Archaeology Lab, Duarte will also ask us to attend to the political ideologies “embedded” in the electronic objects we use and with which we interface with relative ease—what Jean Baudrillard might have called experiencing the pleasure of the integrated circuit (Xerox and Infinity, 1988). On the one hand, when does our usage afford us a powerful form of critical coding or distance? On the other hand, when does our usage become the embodiment of caricature (Dunne, 2014, p. 22), or little more than an ideological enslavement (Virilio, The Art of the Motor, 1995)? Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

All are welcome. We hope you can join us,



“Black at Bryn Mawr” and Technologies of Recovery

Thursday, November 9, 3:30-4:45 pm
Williams (WMS) 415 [turn L off elevators, then R]

Being “Black at Bryn Mawr”: Past as Legacy and Project

For our third meeting this term, the Digital Scholars group will peruse some recent legacy projects and engage in conversation about technologies of recovery. Central to our discussion will be “Black at Bryn Mawr,” a collaborative project begun by Emma Kioko and Grace Pusey in the Fall of 2014 under the guidance of Monica Mercado and Sharon Ullman. Initially conceived as a cross-disciplinary attempt to re/build institutional memory of the College’s “engagement with race and racism,” BBW represents a growing number of legacy projects that hope to re-situate institutions’ relationships to their past and present communities. While the digitization project is ongoing, during the AY 2017-2018, Bryn Mawr has also begun discussions about installing other physical projects and/or naming physical landmarks on campus to highlight some of the content amplified by this work. We may take up the following questions:

  • How might projects like these satiate or provoke ongoing concerns about the “whiteness” of Digital Humanities?
  • Is “legacy” an appropriate term for data-oriented projects driven by models of data-gathering that may potentially flatten?
  • Since Digital Scholars first raised this question in 2011, how far have we come in considering how a “critical code studies” might inform (or transform) this work?
  • Assuming their interest in the material and cultural implications of technologies of recovery, what seems an appropriate set of questions for digital humanists to ask, or with which to build such projects?
  • What stands in the way of authentically anti-racist dialogues surrounding technology within DH?
  • How is DH complicit in barring such dialogues from occurring?

Participants will be encouraged to share their perspectives on and experiences with other inclusion projects, and all are invited to read and view the following in advance:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


Race, Data-Mining, Control

Thursday, October 12, 12:30-1:45 pm
Williams 415

“Data-Mining the Body”: Racialized Bodies, Data-Mining, and Technics of Control

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Anaïs Nony, post-doctoral fellow in French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University, for our second discussion of what can occur at the methodological intersections of DH, race, and alterity. Nony will introduce the “nootechnics of the digital” — the psycho-cultural practices of care and empowerment (2017, p. 130) — asking us to consider the ways in which we thoughtfully and thoughtlessly use medical devices as modes of control that extract data from bodies to assess medical conditions and influence transnational flows of migration. Drawing primarily from a chapter in her book and secondarily from ongoing work in nootechnics, Nony will examine various technologies of control in the context of nationalist discourses on security. Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

All are welcome. We hope you can join us,


In/Visibility and Exclusion in Creating DH Taxonomies

Friday, September 22, 1:30-2:45 pm
Strozier Library TADS Commons  (ground level, past the quiet study area)

Aspects of Visibility: Reckoning with the Taxonomizing Impulse of the Digital Humanities

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Sarah Stanley, DH Specialist and Librarian at Florida State University, to help usher in this semester’s discussions of what can occur at the methodological intersections of DH, race, and alterity. Stanley asks us to consider and interrogate various attitudes toward building taxonomies that undergird a majority of DH projects, whether those taxonomies seek to render multiple phenomena in “same-as” relationships rather than critically distant ones (Drucker, 2011), or whether they seek to articulate phenomena as a hierarchical ordering of relationships that function on a measurable scale (Tsing, 2012).

For those who work in and around network, digital, or visual studies, such a call to rethink taxonomies seems not unfamiliar. In her prologue to Graphesis (2014), for example, Johanna Drucker differentiates between a diagrammatic image that “produces the knowledge it draws” and a digitally rendered image of Web traffic that “only displays information” (1, italics original), arguing that our rendered images—like our networks and queries—are situated and thus in need of nuanced distinctions between those visualized representations that construct information vs. those visualizations that merely re-present. For those who work with data—especially with the mining, construction, or interpretation of indigenous or culturally sensitive data sets—such a call to rethink taxonomies is especially salient to avoid recreating ontological dilemmas that flatten or erase difference.

Yet, what practices (or impulses) might we put in their place? Moreover, with what aspects of visibility should we be willing to contend? Finally, at what cost to particular notions of the “digital” or the “humanities” should these contentions occur? To help us work through these questions, participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

For additional context or related conversations, participants are also invited to browse, skim, or reread any of the following:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


Issues and Debates at the Intersection(s) of DH, Race, and Alterity

Friday, September 8, 12:00-1:15 pm [cancelled due to FSU closures]
WMS 317 (Williams Building, 3rd floor, L off elevators)

Alex Gil‘s virtual visit to our reading group and collaboratory last April was memorable, not only for his dogged persistence in modeling ways of de-colonizing the digital humanities, but also for his honest admission of the challenges we face when starting and sustaining epistemic collaborations among cultural groups. Our meetings during the Fall 2017 semester will continue, if not heighten, discussions on these challenges and collaborations.

This semester, most of our discussions will occur at various intersection(s) of DH, race, and alterity — some of them approaching the intersection via aesthetics and critique, others looking humanistically at mechanisms or methodologies, and still others interrogating morality and access.

While the September 8 meeting is primarily for graduate students enrolled in or regularly attending the group, all Digital Scholars participants are welcome to read and join us for conversation on the following:

Looking forward to it,


DH, Race, and Alterity

Friday, April 21, 1:30-2:45 pm
Williams 013 (“Common Room,” basement level)

Building A “Republic of Letters” Beyond Anglocentrism: A Conversation with Alex Gil

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Alex Gil for its final meeting of the semester. Gil joins us via videoconference from Columbia University, where he is Digital Scholarship Coordinator for the Butler Humanities and History Division of the University Libraries (with affiliate status in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures). Informed by his specializations in twentieth-century Caribbean literature and textual studies, Gil’s own postcolonialist fantasies have spawned large-scale projects that attempt to re/discover the multilingual and multinational scope of DH work, including the Global Outlook:Digital Humanities (GO:DH) initiative, and “Around DH in 80 Days,” launched in 2014 to “address[] the challenge of multi-directional and reciprocal visibility in an asymmetric field.”

“Around DH …” began as a Scalar-based, crowd-sourced mapping project, and ultimately featured hundreds of submissions from scholars around the globe. These and other of Gil’s projects simultaneously stem from and support three goals: (1) building digital platforms that support “minimal” editions of literary texts; (2) fostering open-source platforms to support postcolonial translation and pedagogy; and (3) making pathways for digital humanists to contend with a diverse intellectual kósmos.

Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

and to browse the following projects:

For additional context or related conversations, participants are also invited to read:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


GIS and Archaeology

Thursday, March 30, 2:30-3:45 pm
Strozier 107K [map]

Spatial Patterns, Spatial Evidence: GIS and Archaeology

With the promotion of what spatial humanists call “deep maps,” historians are provided tools for charting what is amendable and excluded from any geographic purview, allowing them to look beyond what is memorable and concrete (Bodenhamer et al. 2015; Bodenhamer et al. 2013; Guldi 2014). Advanced spatial technologies afforded by multilayered geographic information systems (GIS) are growing in popularity, not only enabling the animated reproduction of ancient sites but also allowing complex maps to show cultural reflexivity through the representation of “personalities, emotions, values, and poetics, the visible and invisible aspects of a place” (Bodenhamer et al. 2013, 172). Ideally, what results are historical narratives that are more fluid than finite,  reflecting complex events or actions at any scale.

Yet the convergence of GIS with specific kinds of historical activities creates a representational challenge of humanistic proportions. Beyond the questions of cultural precision and representational accuracy, how can using certain GIS technologies do more than validate a single research agenda? How does geovisualization enable or constrain our ability to interrogate its appropriateness for intellectual work? What assumptions does GIS-enabled archaeology make about the viability of locational data, and about how historians should access or interpret it? Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Dr. Sarah Craft, postdoctoral fellow in Classics at FSU, to facilitate discussion on these questions and to present on her work. Since 2013, Dr. Craft has been actively proposing and developing landscape archaeology projects in different regions of the world, with a special eye toward methodological critique.

Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

and to browse the following projects:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


3D Fabrication and Virtual Reality

Thursday, February 16, 2:30-3:45 pm
Diffenbaugh 432 [map]

3D Technologies Transcending Space and Time: A Reciprocal Influence?

Since David Brewster’s 19th century stereoscope, the drive toward perfecting three-dimensional capture has paralleled the drive to recreate in minute detail the intricacies of environments not previously accessed. We can mark the impact of 3D technologies on humanistic environments in myriad ways, by observing the merging of virtual and material in the service of art and architecture, and by attending to the shifts in how we — as historians and scientists — understand or gauge human-object interactions. On the one hand, digital technologies can empower users to represent any known or imagined physical object or environment virtually and on any scale, from DNA strands to distant galaxies. The human visitor to the virtual environment can engage and interact with virtual objects to learn and innovate, and as access to 3D technologies rapidly increases, so will their impact on the humanities in the academy.

But can 3D reveal the ways in which the humanities have had “[similar] impact on the digital environment” (Drucker, “Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship” 85)?  Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Ken Baldauf, Director of FSU’s Program in Interdisciplinary Computing (PIC), to lead us in a demonstration of 3D modeling software and a consideration of this question. Through a variety of digital fabrication technologies including Printing (“additive”) and Laser Cutting (“subtractive”), digitized objects can be manufactured and brought from the virtual into physical existence. Conversely, digitally scanned artifacts can be redistributed through a virtual network, and tweaked and reproduced until perfected. How do these virtual possibilities and creative behaviors reflect a particular kind of mimesis, and how much do our expectations of the nature and exactitude of their copies originate in extant beliefs about art, material, and/or human?

Participants are invited to read, view, and browse the following in advance of our meeting:

Humanities and the Digital Environment

Virtual Reality

3D Printing and Scanning

Maker Spaces

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


Archive as Methodology, Pedagogy, Practice

Wednesday, January 25, 12:30-1:45 pm
Strozier Library 107K [map]

The FSU Card Archive as Methodology, Pedagogy, and Practice

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Neal, who will discuss the conception, evolution, and continued re-evolution of the FSU Card Archive, a dynamic site that collects and exhibits postcards and stereocards from the late 19th to the early 21st centuries, and in some cases a study in the challenges of achieving common cultural snapshots.

The FSU Card Archive is unique in its emergence as a pedagogical tool; at the same time, that pedagogical emphasis brings into deep relief two concerns that often accompany discussions of digital archival projects. First, the collaborative curatorial nature of the Card Archive — its commitment to decentralized control and fluidity — necessarily moves discussions of the archivist’s (in)visibility into an uncharted space. What difference would it make for the collections, curated exhibits, and actual or potential users if the Card Archive were more closely vetted and controlled? Second, the archivist’s subjective participation becomes a productive yet inextricable contention for evaluators of the site, raising questions about the affordances and limitations of Archive 2.0 work on public memory projects. Without assurance that curators are expert or that the archive reflects all facets of Florida history, and knowing the challenges of  imagistic representation, how does such an archive ensure dynamic historical representation when the teachability of its platform requires certain selections and omissions to be made? How does one ensure that the archive becomes a usable past — or, for some underrepresented or disenfranchised subjects, more than merely a usable past? Dr. Neal invites these and other questions at the intersection of archive, material, and human, and welcomes all participants to join a hands-on demonstration of the site and of its workings.

Participants are invited to browse the Card Archive and discuss the following from any disciplinary or technical perspective:

Strozier 107K will afford us ample table space. Laptops and tablets are welcomed and encouraged. We hope you can join us.


Issues and Debates at the Intersection(s) of Art, Archive, Human, Material, and Network

Friday, January 13, 2:30-3:45 pm
WMS 415 (Williams Building, 4th floor, L off elevators)

The organizational meeting for Spring 2017 Digital Scholars will be dedicated to an introductory discussion (and potential complication) of issues and debates at various intersections of five central topics: art, archive, human, material, and network. While this meeting is primarily for graduate students enrolled in or regularly attending the group, all participants are welcome to read with us and join us for conversation:

Generally speaking, our readings for each session will reach across disciplinary boundaries; thus, if any of these pieces is difficult on first read, you might keep track of the following to help you get through it:

  1. The writers’ overarching project or stance, i.e., to what are they responding, or, what are they arguing for, writing about, promoting, or helping to re/define?
  2. How the project outlined in each text either raises or settles questions you might have about digital humanities, digital scholarship, or digital work in/across the disciplines
  3. Anything else that resonates.

See you in January!