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Feminist Theory Reading Group

April 16th, 2014

Rochelle Gold

feb 26 flyer

Day of DH on April 8th

March 24th, 2014

Steve Anderson


“Day of DH 2014″ is occurring this April 8th:

Here’s the info from the About page at Day of DH 2014:

A Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities (Day of DH) is an open community publication project that will bring together scholars interested in the digital humanities from around the world to document what they do on one day. This year, Day of DH will take place on April 8th. The goal of the project is to create a web site that weaves together a picture of the participant’s activities on the day which answers the question, “Just what do digital humanists really do?” Participants document their day through photographs and text, all of which is published on a community online platform (which, for this year, lives at Both during and after the day, people are encouraged to read and comment on their fellow participant’s posts. Eventually, all the data will be grouped together, undergo some light semantic editing, and released for others to study. We hope that, beyond the original online publication, the raw data will be of use to those interested in further visualization or digital community ethnographic research.

Notes on TEI and Markup Fundamentals workshop

February 16th, 2014

Steve Anderson

On February 13th I attended a workshop on TEI and Markup Fundamentals sponsored by the Graduate Quantitative Methods Program. The workshop was given by Rochelle Gold and Kimberly Hall from the Department of English at UC Riverside.

480px-Text_Encoding_Initiative_TEI-800TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) is a method of encoding texts with markup language for digital representation. TEI markup focuses on rendering the semantic qualities of texts more visible. For example, sentences and clauses can be marked within a text, as well as the lines and features of a poem. This granular level of encoding allows for digital representations of these texts to carry details and information beyond their normal forms, which is valuable for critical interpretation.

Adding TEI markup to a document is an “intimate” process as described by Hall. With the addition of every XML tag the encoder must make a series of choices based on the priorities of the project. The TEI process can be quite time consuming, but the close reading required for this encoding also fosters a deep understanding of the text itself.

The basic process of TEI encoding consists of three parts:

1. Document Analysis
What is the text, and what are your research and interpretive priorities?

2. Encoding
Adding markup to the digital version of the text. For texts that have not been digitized, this is also a process of transcription into digital form.

3. Output
Our workshop concentrated on the fundamentals of TEI, so we didn’t yet delve into output. However, the first two steps appear to be the primary focus of TEI, as the encoding is more concerned with semantic representation than visual production.

Overall, the workshop was very well done, and it brought to light new possibilities for my own historical teaching and research. Many of the sources I share with students are digitized, and hyperlinks are helpful for connecting to other sources of information. With TEI these linkages can be broadened greatly — for example, I could encode mentions of historical places, uses of foreign language, or references to Classical antiquity and mythology. Integrating TEI into this workflow will be very helpful, allowing students to see primary source texts in new ways, and adding a new dimension to my own research.

Cross-posted at Book, Archive, and Manuscript Studies @ UC Riverside:

Event Archive: Rethinking Debates on Digital Learning . 12 Feb 2014

February 13th, 2014

Steve Anderson

Yesterday CDH sponsored a talk by Professor Juliette Levy of the Department of History at UC Riverside. In her discussion, Professor Levy described her own evolution toward using digital technology in order to broaden the learning experience for her students.

Professor Levy’s talk began with a common experience many in academia have shared — traditional methods of teaching are not being adapted to the changing needs of students in our modern world.

The RSA talk by Sir Ken Robinson, which was turned into an animated video, was central to describing this need for change. There is a great chasm between the needs of students and the pace of innovation within the classroom.

Central to this movement toward digital learning in the traditional classroom is the need to meet students “where they are” with digital technology. The call for action is not to expand the technological savvy of the students, but to leverage their preexisting familiarity with digital culture and devices in order to expand the classroom experience.

Harnessing the digital skills of students can extend the learning experience outside of the classroom walls, and it can also create more collaboration between the students themselves. For example, every student may not have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, but many do. Sharing these devices and skills during group exercises can help students get to know each other, while at the same time thickening the learning experience.

Most interaction with technology in the classroom is with a Learning Management System or LMS, like Blackboard or Canvas. These LMS systems are very necessary for grades, enrollment, and automated exercises like quizzes. The key, however, is to move beyond the reliance on the LMS, which was designed to assign, control, automate, and distribute information, and experiment with more decentralized and multi-nodal methods of digital interaction. Decentralized digital platforms like Twitter and Piazza allow for traditional academic hierarchies to be broken-down and remixed in new ways that are rewarding for students and professors alike.

A few key points from the talk:

1. Model the behavior.
Modeling the behavior, such as live-tweeting lectures, will help instructors to retain a sense authority while also allowing for more flexible pathways of interaction. Also, modeling provides students with concrete examples of what digital technologies are available, and also how to use them professionally. Teaching assistants can begin processes like these with Twitter, or tweets can be scheduled to automatically post during the lecture. Students should be encouraged to tweet also, in order to gradually take over the entire note-taking and note-sharing process.

2. Incentives and risks.
Some incentives and risks are set by the professor through the syllabus in an explicit fashion, such as attendance or exam dates. Other incentives and risks are more subtle, but they can also be very powerful and possibly limiting. For example, it’s difficult to harness the technical prowess of students if they are not allowed to use digital devices in the classroom. Of course some students might be inclined to wander off into the far reaches of the Internet, but they should be redirected toward more fruitful material rather than completely restricted.

3. Experiment and innovate.
A sense of experimentation in the classroom can also lead to a sense of excitement. Involving students in the process of the course through polls on Piazza, for example, can foster a sense of student empowerment. Also, if students are aware that the professor is experimenting with pedagogy, they’re also more likely to push the boundaries of the assignments in positive ways. Many students are afraid to take risks academically for fear of failing, and a sense of experimentation in the class can help relieve that pressure.

All in all, Professor Levy made it clear that she is not advocating for building larger lecture halls, or relying on MOOCs to educate the masses. Instead, she calls for the directed application of digital technology in order to expand the traditional classroom experience with the consideration and participation of the students themselves.

Rethinking Debates on Digital Learning

February 10th, 2014

Steve Anderson

Critical Digital Humanities is hosting a talk on debates on digital learning by UCR History Professor Juliette Levy.

The event will take place on Wednesday, February 12th from 4-5:30pm in the English department conference room (HMNSS 2212).

Please consider joining us for a lively discussion on digital pedagogy. Light refreshments will be provided. See attached flyer for more info.

We hope to see you there!

Feb 12 flyer

CFP: The Contours of Algorithmic Life

February 3rd, 2014

April Durham

A conference sponsored by The Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures
May 15-16, 2014 at the University of California, Davis

Submission Deadline: March 1, 2014
Send submissions to

As algorithms permeate our lived experience, the boundaries and
borderlands of what can and cannot be adapted, translated, or
incorporated into algorithmic thinking become a space of contention.
The principle of the algorithm, or the specification of the potential
space of action, creates the notion of a universal mode of
specification of all life, leading to discourses on empowerment,
efficiency, openness, and inclusivity. But algorithms are ultimately
only able to make intelligible and valuable that which can be
discretized, quantified, operationalized, proceduralized, and
gamified, and this limited domain makes algorithms necessarily

Algorithms increasingly shape our world, our thought, our economy, our
political life, and our bodies. The algorithmic response of NSA
networks to threatening network activity increasingly brings privacy
and political surveillance under algorithmic control. At least 30% of
stock trading is now algorithmic and automatic, having already lead to
several otherwise inexplicable collapses and booms. Devices such as
the Fitbit and the NikeFuel suggest that the body is incomplete
without a technological supplement, treating ‘health’ as a
quantifiable output dependent on quantifiable inputs. The logic of
gamification, which finds increasing traction in educational and
pedagogical contexts, asserts that the world is not only renderable as
winnable or losable, but is in fact better–i.e. more effective–this
way. The increased proliferation of how-to guides, from HGTV and DIY
television to the LifeHack website, demonstrate a growing demand for
approaching tasks with discrete algorithmic instructions.

This conference seeks to explore both the specific uses of algorithms
and algorithmic culture more broadly, including topics such as:
gamification, the computational self, data mining and visualization,
the politics of algorithms, surveillance, mobile and locative
technology, and games for health. While virtually any discipline could
have something productive to say about the matter, we are especially
seeking contributions from software studies, critical code studies,
performance studies, cultural and media studies, anthropology, the
humanities, and social sciences, as well as visual art, music, sound
studies and performance. Proposals for experimental/hybrid
performance-papers and multimedia artworks are especially welcome.

Areas open for exploration include but are not limited to: daily life
in algorithmic culture; gamification of education, health, politics,
arts, and other social arenas; the life and death of big data and data
visualization; identity politics and the quantification of selves,
bodies, and populations; algorithm and affect; visual culture of
algorithms; algorithmic materiality; governance, regulation, and
ethics of algorithms, procedures, and protocols; algorithmic
imaginaries in fiction, film, video games, and other media;
algorithmic culture and (dis)ability; habit and addiction as
biological algorithms; the unrule-able/unruly in the (post)digital
age; limits and possibilities of emergence; algorithmic and
proto-algorithmic compositional methods (e.g., serialism, Baroque
fugue); algorithms and (il)legibility; and the unalgorithmic.

For more information, especially on updates regarding featured keynote
speakers and performers, check out the conference website at:

Please send proposals to by March 1, 2014.

Site maintenance

January 25th, 2014

Steve Anderson

I ran the updates for the website this morning, for both the WordPress engine itself (3.8.1), and also the plugins.

The CDH site is being backed-up automatically with the Backup Buddy plugin to the iThemes cloud, and also locally.

I made some edits to the Events page, and I added a post for the upcoming Professionalization in the Digital Humanities event with Professor Wernimont.

There’s a nice Calendar plugin I’ve come across recently, and it might be easier to use than the code for the current Events page (it’s free):

The Events Calendar from Modern Tribe:

– this plugin is in beta mode with The Center for Ideas and Society at UCR:

– the “List” mode might be good for CDH uses too: (Month or List mode can be chosen at the top right of the calendar)


Professionalization in the Digital Humanities

January 25th, 2014

Steve Anderson

CDH Event:

Please join us for a conversation on digital humanities, professionalization and the job market with Professor Jacqueline Wernimont of Scripps College.

Thursday, Janurary 30, 2014

1:00- 2:30pm

Location – INTS 1111

Lunch will be served!

jan 30 flyer

CFP: e-lit and cyberculture

December 2nd, 2013

April Durham

Call for papers: Papers are invited for a special issue entitled “New Work on Electronic Literature and Cyberculture.” Ed. Maya Zalbidea Paniagua (Universidad La Salle Madrid), Mark Marino (University of Southern California), and Asunción López Varela-Azcárate (Universidad Complutense Madrid). CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 16.5 (2014): The theme of the special issue is in the context of digital humanities about critical, social, philosophical, gender, and pedagogical aspects of electronic literature, digital art, and cyberculture. Please submit papers in 6000-7000 words to Maya Zalbidea at by 31 December 2013. Of particular interest are papers on digital humanities in general and including cybertext/hypertext theory and application, hypertext fiction (flash fiction, e-poetry, digital storytelling, online graphic novels, etc.), game studies and net and video art, and gender, identity, race, and sexuality in cyberspace. For the style of the journal consult Articles published in the journal are double-blind peer reviewed and indexed in the Thomson Reuters ISI Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Scopus, etc.”

The “D and H” Divide in the Digital Humanities

November 8th, 2013

Kimberly Hall

Author: Sarah Lozier

As a humanities graduate student interested in looking at digital media, digital processes, and digital sociality, it is tempting to define myself professionally as a Digital Humanities scholar.  But this definition isn’t particularly helpful, since it almost always elicits the response — “And what does that actually mean?”  Indeed, being a DH professional seems to “mean” differently for different people, and these definitional slippages become increasingly problematic when it comes to those non-research necessities of being an aspiring academic (getting jobs, applying for grants, and teaching undergraduates).  In an effort to think through some of these slippages and their politics, I’d like to look at one specific resource for DH professionalization — the University of Victoria’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) — to think about what this program suggests effective DH professionalization is and does.

The DHSI is “a week of intensive coursework, seminars, and lectures,” all focused around issues pertinent to the digital humanities.  This year’s twenty-seven seminars cover a wide range of topics ranging from “Text Encoding Fundamentals”  to “Electronic Literature in the Digital humanities,” but all twenty-seven are organized along a kind of divide between building digital skill sets — coding, software use, etc — and dealing with fairly traditional issues of humanities study applied to digital objects — “reading” electronic literature, applying “theory” to digital media, etc.

This divide strikes me as potentially indicative of the larger problem of professionalizing in DH, and that is the question of what a DH professional does. While these seminars cover topics dealing explicitly with navigating the Digital and topics dealing explicitly with navigating the Humanities, there aren’t any seminars that explicitly deal with digital AND humanities navigation, DH as one unit.  They suggest that DH is still D and H, Digital and Humanities.  The problem with this “and” is analogous to the problem of the hyphen conceived as the splice that Katherine Hayles discusses in the fifth chapter of How We Became Posthuman.  That is, D (and) H imagines a “separate but equal” relationship between the items on either side of the and, even as it officially splices them together (DH) as one item.  Scholars who do this thing called “DH” must actually do “D and H,” making the discipline a necessarily exclusive rather than inclusive one.  In the hectic world of the modern academy, where tenure is disappearing and we are asked more often than not to work “for free,” today, being a DH professional is all but closed off to those who already have the time and resources to equivalently pursue D and H — established, funded academics.  Until we can more effectively splice D and H into DH, this exclusivity and definitional slipperiness will continue to exist.