Category Archives: Visitors


The Frontiers of DH: Humanities Systems Infrastructure

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This Thursday 12 November the UC Digital Humanities programme is hosting an afternoon of short seminars, followed by a workshop, centered on humanities systems infrastructure. Please note the venue has changed to Undercroft 101. The time is still 1pm – 5pm.

The goal is to start thinking about what humanities systems infrastructure is, what it might become, and what values and goals should be used to develop it. The workshop is low-key but might be of interest to researchers interested in digital research and the politics of infrastructure, GLAM and university professionals with responsibility for digital strategy, and IT professionals with interests in the cultural heritage and research sectors. Speakers have been allocated 45 minutes but we’ll take a relaxed approach to timing. Input is strongly encouraged from all attendees.

1.00 – 1.15: Introduction by Dr. James Smithies, University of Canterbury Digital Humanities Programme.
1.15 – 2.00: Prof. Alan Liu, University of California at Santa Barbara, ‘Against the Cultural Singularity’.
2.00 – 2.45: Prof. Paul Arthur, University of Western Sydney, ‘Smart Infrastructures for Cultural and Social Research’.
2.45 – 3.30: Dr. James Smithies, University of Canterbury, ‘Towards a Systems Analysis of the Humanities’.
3.30 – 4.00: Afternoon tea.
4.00 – 5.00: Group discussion: ‘What is humanities cyber-infrastructure? Do we want it or need it, and if so how do we build it?’

The session will be followed by an open meeting on Friday 13th November, 10am – 12pm in Karl Popper 414, to discuss possible actions and outputs.

The 3 keynote seminars will be videoed.

Seminar+workshop_brighter poster







Key Trends in DH & their challenge to the idea of the Humanities

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events-liuTo kick off a 6-week Festival of Digital Humanities, our visiting Fulbright Specialist Professor Alan Liu (University of California, Santa Barbara) is presenting the first in a series of seminars and workshops, tomorrow (Wednesday 28 October) at 4pm.

Professor Liu is a highly distinguished figure within Digital Humanities circles, and we are privileged to have him at UC as a Fulbright Visiting Specialist, thanks to the generous support of the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Key Trends in Digital Humanities: how the digital humanities challenge the idea of the humanities

Wednesday 28 October, 4 – 5.30pm
Undercroft 101

How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan will speculate on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media – most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning”.

Special Guest Seminar: Dr Tim Sherratt

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Coming up this Wednesday 21 October is a seminar by special guest Dr. Tim Sherratt.

tim.sherrattDr. Sherratt is well known in the field of digital humanities, and recently received a standing ovation for his keynote presentation at DH2015, the annual international conference of the Alliance of Digital Humanities.

In his own words, Dr. Sherratt is a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. He has been creating online resources relating to archives, museums and history since 1993, and is currently an Associate Professor of Digital Heritage at the University of Canberra, while also co-managing the National Library of Australia’s Trove database. Sherratt is a member of the THATCamp Council, an organiser of THATCamp Canberra, and a committee member of the Australasian Association for the Digital Humanities.

Details of the seminar are below:

‘A Manifesto for Tactical DH Research Infrastructure’

Wednesday 21 October, 1-2pm
Undercroft 101, James Hight

Digital research infrastructure is typically understood as big and expensive, but some of our most valuable tools live in the GitHub accounts of individual coders. Investment in digital infrastructure and coding education tend to be framed in the language of innovation and large-scale ‘disruption’, and yet DH offers a more critical and reflexive path based around small-scale interventions.

DH encourages us to share, to do our work in public, and yet…these are not simply matters of policy or strategy. They are real moments of uncertainty in the lives of individual DH practitioners. How do we help? How do we build an infrastructure aimed not at lofty national goals, but at supporting people who want to do things differently?

Professor Alan Liu, Visiting Fulbright Specialist: a 6-week festival of Digital Humanities in Aotearoa-New Zealand

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The University of Canterbury Digital Humanities (UCDH) Programme is excited to announce six weeks of Digital Humanities activity, anchored by the visit of Professor Alan Liu from the University of California Santa Barbara. Professor Liu will be visiting as a Fulbright Visiting Specialist from October 19 to November 29, with the generous support of the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Professor Patricia Fumerton (UC Santa Barbara) will also stay with us as a Visiting Scholar in Residence, for the last two weeks of Alan’s visit. Patricia’s research interests centre on Early Modern culture and literature, and she will lead a trans-Tasman workshop on Early Modern digital humanities during her stay. We’re also delighted to have two Australian visitors who will be contributing to our conversations during this period: Assoc. Professor Tim Sherratt (University of Canberra, Trove), and  Professor Paul Arthur (University of Western Sydney). Dr. Sydney Shep, Reader in Book History at Wai-te-Ata Press, Victoria University of Wellington, will participate in our discussion on cyberinfrastructure on November 12th. Details of these talks are listed in the schedule below, and we’ll be posting more about our visitors soon.

Background on Alan Liu


Alan is a Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an affiliated faculty member of UCSB’s Media Arts & Technology graduate program. Previously, he was on the faculty of Yale University’s English Department and British Studies Program.

events-liuHe began his research in the field of British romantic literature and art. His first book, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989), explored the relation between the imaginative experiences of literature and history. In a series of theoretical essays in the 1990s, he explored cultural criticism, the “new historicism,” and postmodernism in contemporary literary studies. In 1994, when he started his Voice of the Shuttle web site for humanities research, he began to study information culture as a way to close the circuit between the literary or historical imagination and the technological imagination.  In 2004, he published The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (University of Chicago Press). He also published his Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database (University of Chicago Press) in 2008.

Everyone is welcome to attend our series of seminars and discussions, which will take place at the University of Canterbury, the University of Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington. Come prepared to extend both your own thinking, and ours!

See below for details of the upcoming events. Please note, time and location for some events are yet to be confirmed.

Date / Room Title Description Location
Wed. 21st October, 1-2pm

Undercroft 101

A manifesto for tactical DH research infrastructure A seminar by Assoc. Prof. Tim Sherratt, U. Canberra / Trove. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Wed. 28th October, 4-5.30

Undercroft 101

Key Trends in DH & their challenge to the idea of the Humanities A public lecture by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Wed. 28th October, 1-3pm

Seminar Room, Ground Floor, Science Library

Digital Interventions A seminar by Assoc. Prof. Tim Sherratt, University of Canberra / Trove. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Thurs. 5th November, 3-5pm

Undercroft 101

The Future of the Humanities A workshop led by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Thurs. 12th November, 1-5 pm

James Hight 210

Alan Liu, ‘Against the Cultural Singularity’, James Smithies, ‘Towards a Systems Analysis of the Humanities’, Paul Arthur ‘Smart Infrastructures for Cultural and Social Research’ followed by workshop The Frontiers of DH: Humanities Systems Infrastructure: Alan Liu, Paul Arthur, James Smithies followed by workshop discussion. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.


Fri. 13th November, 10am-12pm

Popper 413

Open meeting Follow-up from Humanities Systems Infrastructure workshop University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Wed. 18th November

Undercroft 101

Early Modern DH: A Trans-tasman Conversation A workshop led by Prof. Patricia Fumerton, UC Santa Barbara. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Thurs. 26th November

Time & Place TBC

Broadside Ballads and Tactical Publics: ‘The Lady and the Blackamoor,’ 1570-1789 A public lecture by Prof. Patricia Fumerton, UC Santa Barbara. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Fri. 27th November, 2-3 pm.

Place TBC

Literature+ A conversation about Alan Liu’s Literature+ course. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Fri. 27th November, 5.15-6.15 pm.

Place TBC

What Everyone Says – 4Humanities A public lecture by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Tues. 1st December, 1-2:30 pm

Stout Centre, Kelburn Campus

Key Trends in DH & their challenge to the idea of the Humanities A public lecture by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Victoria at Wellington
Tues. 1st December, 3-4:30 pm

Stout Centre, Kelburn Campus

Samuel Pepys and “Greensleeves”: A DH Perspective A public lecture by Prof. Patricia Fumerton, UC Santa Barbara. University of Victoria at Wellington


A Conversation with Professor Harold Short, April 8th 2014

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The UC Digital Humanities Programme is pleased to announce ‘A Conversation with Professor Harold Short’, Professor of Digital Humanities at King’s College London and the University of Western Sydney. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the Digital Humanities to discuss the present and future of this exciting field with one of the most experienced and respected practitioners in the world. All welcome.

When: April 8th, 2014, 3.30 – 4.30 pm.

Where: University of Canterbury, History Building, room 508.

Harold Short is Professor of Humanities Computing at King’s College London, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Western Sydney in the newly established Digital Humanities Research Group, which is based in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. At King’s, Professor Short founded and directed the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, now the Department of Digital Humanities, of which he was the Head until his retirement in 2010.

He is a former Chair of both the European Association for Digital Humanities (formerly the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing), and the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations in which he has a continuing role in supporting the development of digital humanities associations world-wide. He is a general editor of the Ashgate series <Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities>.

During his time at King’s he was involved in the development of three MA programmes in the Digital Humanities: Digital Humanities, Digital Culture and Society and Digital Asset Management. He worked with Willard McCarty and other colleagues in developing the world’s first PhD programme in Digital Humanities, launched in 2005.

At King’s he also played a major role in a number of large-scale inter-disciplinary research projects, and his continuing research focus is on the collaborative space at the discipline boundaries. He is also keenly interested in the institutional structures to support such collaborations, and in the development of a truly global community of digital humanities scholars and activities.

Visiting Fellow, Dr. Eric Meyer, Oxford Internet Institute

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The UC Digital Humanities Programme and School of Humanities and Creative Arts is pleased to welcome Dr. Eric Meyer, from the Oxford Internet Institute. Eric is staying with us as a Canterbury / Erskine Fellow. See below for his open lectures.

Dr Meyer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. His research in the field of social informatics focuses on the changing nature of knowledge creation across the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities as technology is embedded in everyday practices. His research has included both qualitative and quantitative work with marine biologists, genetics researchers, physicists, digital humanities scholars, social scientists using big data, theatre artists, librarians, and organizations involved in computational approaches to research.

His work has been published in a variety of journals, books, and conference proceedings, most of which are available on his website ( He is also a frequent speaker at conferences around the world, including keynote addresses in Florence, Aberdeen, Prague, The Hague, Leeds, and elsewhere, and has given invited lectures at universities including Harvard, Cambridge, King’s, Edinburgh, Chalmers, Borås, Dalhousie, Rensselaer, Sheffield, Bath, Southampton, Canterbury New Zealand, and others.

Dr Meyer’s research has received funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the European Commission, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Jisc, Nesta, RIN, and others. Dr Meyer earned his PhD in information science, specializing in social informatics, at Indiana University, where his award-winning dissertation examined how marine biologists who rely on photographic evidence to identify individual marine mammals have seen significant changes in their everyday work practices as they switched from film photography to digital photography.


21 March, 12.00 – 1.00 pm, Psych-Soc 252: ‘Big Data and Democracy’

The big data rush is on, in academia, in business, and in government. In recent years, news articles, trade magazines, workshops, conferences, and talks about big data have accelerated into a constant barrage. However, it is important to look beyond the early hype around the promises and perils of big data to start to ask more probing questions about how big data enables new approaches to knowledge creation and discovery, what new methodological challenges arise, and what are the limits beyond which big data can become too comprehensive? Using data from an ongoing project funded by the Sloan Foundation that has interviewed over 125 big data specialists, Meyer will discuss what big data means for policy experts, industry, academia, and the public, and highlights the opportunities and risks of big data in research and in society.

26 March, 2.00 – 3.00 pm, Psych-Soc 151, Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities

Based on a forthcoming book (The MIT Press) of the same name, this talk looks at changes in the way research is done when computational approaches are applied to research. There is a fundamental change taking place in the world of research: digital tools and data shared via electronic networks are having far-reaching effects. From ‘big science’ physics experiments like the Large Hadron Collider, which is using distributed, high-performance computing to analyze massive amounts of data, to humanities scholars who digitize large volumes of text to uncover changing patterns of language use, networked digital research is having profound effects on the practices of researchers. From the Grid, to the Cloud, to Big Data, research practices are ever more tightly coupled to computing. These changes can be understood on a number of levels, including organizational changes, changes in knowledge production, and in the communication of research. And although these changes take place in different ways in different disciplines, my colleagues and I argue that, like ripples in a pond, the changes add up to a broader transformation of the landscape of research.

1 April, 10.00 – 11.00 am, KE07, Computer Programming for the Arts Graduate: To what extent is being able to code part of literacy in a digital world?

Language literacy has always been seen as a relevant tool for a variety of disciplines, but literacy in computer languages has only relatively recently been viewed as an essential skill outside of computer science. With the continuing growth in demand for digital humanities specialists, data scientists, and people skilled in digital social research, arts graduates who can learn both the specialist languages of disciplines as well as the languages and potential of computation will set themselves up to fill the increasingly important role as ‘bridgers’ in academia and in business. This talk will include examples from post-graduate student work in particular to demonstrate how coding skills can be applied to interesting questions across a variety of fields.

4 April, 12.00 – 1.00 pm, Central Library 210, Web archives: The future of researching the Internet’s past

Web archives have been collected by organizations such as the Internet Archive since the mid-1990s, but only recently have there been advances in how to actually make use of them for research. In this talk, I will focus on the born digital public content held in web archives, and the challenge of using these data for research purposes.  My research group has written several reports and papers in recent years on research engagement (or lack thereof) with web archives, and has highlighted the fact that one of the biggest disconnects at the moment is that while archives of the web are being increasingly preserved, the tools and methods for doing research from these archives is less well-developed than doing research on the live web.  I will argue that the range of partners who should be involved in preserving web archives needs to extend far beyond the preservation community – into the community of researchers (such as sociologists, political scientists, communications scholars, and information scientists) who are the natural researchers of such materials, but also into the newly developing areas of ‘big data’ where efforts to mine the streams of data being generated on the web are being seen to hold massive value both for understanding society but also for generating economic benefit. This talk also highlights some recent advances, and presents new data demonstrating how web archives can be mined for meaningful data.