HUMlab Seminar with Geoffrey Rockwell on Feb 22

We are very happy to have Geoffrey Rockwell, University of Alberta, visit UmeƄ University and HUMlab in about two weeks. There will be a seminar on February 22 at 1.15 pm. Everyone welcome. Highly recommended! The seminar will streamed lived at and archived at For more information about Geoffrey, see and

[February 22, 1.15 pm]
Making theoretical things in the digital humanities
Geoffrey Rockwell, University of Alberta

Can a thing communicate theory? Can a digital object that is not just an electronic text be used to share or provoke theoretical thinking? In this paper Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell will look at arguments that the making of provocative or explanatory digital things is defining of the digital humanities. The digital humanities has been positioned differently over time. Early on humanities computing was presented as the application of computing to traditional humanities research. Humanists would bring questions coming out of the disciplines to a methods commons where computing could be applied and shared. With the larger turn to infrastructure we see emergence of a second view namely that the digital humanities should run infrastructure that enables practices, including innovative methods like data mining that answer questions humanists may not have thought of. This second view of the role of the digital humanities presents us as more than enablers who help automate existing practices. The aspiration is that the digital humanities can transform the humanities by introducing new practices. A third model sees the digital humanities as an emerging discipline of its own that may or may not merge with related fields like game studies, interactive arts, and informatics. In such a disciplinary model digital objects become both the object of study and one of the means of dissemination. While many in the humanities may balk at thinking of digital things as scholarship, I believe the field is committed to exploring this line of thinking through making. We don’t have compelling examples the way an orrery is a compelling historical example of knowledge things in Baird’s sense. This presentation will there end by looking at various digital things and asking about their theoretical status.

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