WM Fellowship at King’s

The past few weeks were intensive, busy, and exciting! I visited the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King’s College London on a Willard McCarty fellowship. It was a great pleasure to meet the academic staff and share research interests and experience. Thanks for all inspiring talks!

On 23 May, I gave a talk at the event “Humanities Laboratories: Critical Infrastructures and Knowledge Experiments”, hosted by the DDH with King’s Digital Lab (KDL), in conjunction with the Critical infrastructure Studies initiative. The event was chaired by Arianna Ciula (Deputy Director & Senior Research Software Analyst, KDL) and introduced by Prof. Willard McCarty. Next, James Smithies (Director, KDL; Deputy Director, KCL eResearch) gave a talk about a laboratory in the context of postphenomenology and presented King’s Digital Lab as socio-technical system. After that, Jonathan Gray (Co-founder of the Public Data Lab, and Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies, DDH) reflected on the development of the Public Data Lab, a unique model of lab as a network of researchers and research centres from across Europe established around questions of the data society. After that, I presented my recent work on humanities laboratories from the perspective of laboratory studies, critical infrastructure studies, and social lab theorists. The resources and photos will be soon published on the WM Fellowship’s website. Meanwhile, you can find my presentation under the “Materials” section!

KCL event: “Humanities Laboratories”

I am so excited to be a keynote for the King’s event “Humanities Laboratories: Critical Infrastructures and Knowledge Experiments” on May 23, 2019. The event will revolve around the critical and epistemological roles of humanities labs in supporting and extending academic research and learning beyond traditional classrooms.

The event will be hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) with King’s Digital Lab (KDL), in conjunction with the Critical Infrastructure Studies (https://cistudies.org/) initiative. It will be chaired by Arianna Ciula (Deputy Director & Senior Research Software Analyst, KDL) and introduced by James Smithies (Director, KDL; Deputy Director, KCL eResearch) and Jonathan Gray (Co-founder of the Public Data Lab, and Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies, DDH, KCL). Next, as Willard McCarty’s Fellow, I will give a talk “A Laboratory as Critical Infrastructure in the Humanities”. The program and abstracts can be found here.

Lab & Slack

This Thursday, on 4th April, I will be giving a talk together with Dr Mila Oiva (from the University of Turku) at the Digital Humanities Research Seminar at the University of Helsinki. Our presentation, titled “Lab and Slack. Situated Research Practices in Digital Humanities” is an overview of our special issue of “Digital Humanities Quarterly”. We have been working on this special issue for a year and collecting articles about physical and virtual situatedness of research practices in DH. We have more than 15 papers written by scholars working at digital humanities places, including Yale University, Michigan State University, the University of Victoria, Portland State University, and the University of Luxembourg! The special issue will be submitted soon to the DHQ and hopefully, released at the end of this year!

WM Fellowship at King’s

I have exciting news! I have been nominated the Willard McCarty Fellowship 2018-2019 at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. It is one of the largest and most prestigious departments of digital humanities worldwide and the first department of DH established in Europe. I couldn’t imagine a better place to share and develop my research interests! I will give a talk “A Laboratory as Critical Infrastructure in the Humanities” at King’s on 23rd May. More information soon!

The abstract of my talk:

Laboratories have entered the humanities as a new infrastructure aimed at transforming the humanities into an experimental, collaborative, and technology-driven discipline. With the spread of the idea of the laboratory into academic spaces, city spaces, and cultural institutions, the definition of lab has been extended significantly. A laboratory goes beyond the notion of a physical place involving specialized instruments and hands-on scientific exploration, becoming, instead, a widely understood project. A laboratory is thus more than infrastructure; it is a “conceptual vehicle” (Critical Media Lab at the Academy of Art and Design FHNW) and it involves “new ways of engaging with public audiences” (the Humanities Laboratories at Duke University). In short, a laboratory can be conceptualized as a way of thinking that entails new social practices and new research modes. Thus, a lab can be established anywhere. The only condition for creating a lab is community: a lab is constituted by and for the people gathered together to address particular challenges.

My goal is to present the impact of the laboratory through two different perspectives: infrastructural changes in the humanities and structural changes through the humanities. I attempt to go beyond the discussion of a laboratory as a research infrastructure to investigate it as the infrastructure of engagement in social and global challenges. Hence, I pose the following questions: How does a laboratory grow from a physical workspace into actions taken around challenges? How does a laboratory become the driving force of the engaged humanities? How can changes be made through the (digital) humanities infrastructure? Drawing on the sociology of scientific knowledge, laboratory studies, and critical infrastructure studies, I will address these questions and explore the laboratory as a platform for systemic changes.

This talk will consist of two parts. In the first part, I will present three discourses that gave rise to the laboratory in the humanities: the transformation of the humanities infrastructure within the university, the paradigm shifts in the social sciences, and the expansion of particular cultural categories. Further, based on an interactive map of laboratories (humanities labs, digital humanities labs, and media labs) established around the world, I will sketch the history of the lab in the humanities within a global context from the 1980s to 2018. Next, I will determine models for humanities labs based on laboratories’ statements and operations, including the techno-science, workstation, and virtual models. The second part of the lecture aims to examine the lab structure critically and reflect on its potential for the engaged humanities. Referring to social lab theorists, I will seek to answer questions as to how humanities research can be translated into action and how a laboratory drives this process. The analysis will be based on different forms of laboratories seen as sites of interventions: the lab as a challenge-centric space, coalition, and community platform.

Materials: Presentation and Mapping

In the “Materials” section, I have uploaded my presentation “Mapping a History of the Humanities and Media Labs” which I am showing today, on March 21, at the Global Digital Humanities Symposium at Michigan State University. You can also find a link to an interactive map of “(Digital) Humanities and Media Labs around the world” created in StoryMapJS tool. The map will be available for a week so please feel free to explore it! If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me: urszula.pawlicka@aalto.fi

Global Digital Humanities Symposium

I am presenting my research at the Global Digital Humanities Symposium held at Michigan State University (March 21-22, 2019). The Symposium will be livestreamed at go.cal.msu.edu/globaldh. So if you are interested in the phenomenon of humanities labs, please join my session today, on March 21, at 2.40pm (EDT time zone)!

Below, the abstract of my presentation, titled Mapping a History of the Humanities and Media Labs:
The last years can be called as a boom of laboratories in the humanities created as a physical space and as a ‘placeless’ project (virtual labs, lab podcasts) for a specific purpose and for a fixed period. The multiplication of labs has led to a state of emergency when it becomes significant to investigate their objectives and operation. Hence, I pose the following questions: What does a laboratory mean in the humanities? How did a laboratory grow from a physical workspace into an action taken around people and challenges? How did the transition occurred from the first experimental generation to the second wave of the humanities labs?

My goal is to present a lab history in the humanities, digital humanities, and media studies within a global context from the 1980s to 2018. The main part of my presentation is a map of laboratories established in the humanities and media studies around the world. Based on a survey and laboratories’ statements, I created an interactive map with labs’ descriptions and timeline to analyze the concept of the humanities lab from geographical and historical perspective.

It is vital to understand the phenomenon of laboratory in the humanities that entails significant changes in the research practices and scholarly communication. The humanities labs do not represent a unified structure but they are a cluster of various models which have their own architectures and practices. Hence, the humanities labs do not purely imitate the science lab but adapt this new structure for its own purposes and needs.

‘The Making of the Humanities VI’

Last month I had a pleasure to present my current research on laboratories in the humanities during the conference ‘The Making of the Humanities VI’ taking place at the University of Oxford, Humanities Division and Somerville College on September 28-30, 2017. The goal of my presentation, titled ‘The Emergence of Laboratories in the Humanities: Impetus, Implementation, and Impact’ was to trace a history of the humanities labs, covering the impulse and the mechanism of their creation. Below, I have attached my abstract and presentation available also in the section of ‘Projects’.

The humanities has made significant conceptual shifts that include fostering strong innovative and collaborative research, employing technologies, and building a bridge between the academy, industry, and community. Above changes mean designing and defining the humanities anew. Creating an academic discipline requires an ‘administrative imagination’; that is to say, we must build a structure aligned with development strategy. Consequently, the humanities has undergone an ‘infrastructure turn’ over the past ten years and launched a new physical place: a laboratory. The emergence of labs in the humanities has been crucial for “redefining the role of the humanities” and “re-configuration of the humanities offered by computational technologies”; however, the proliferation and the fragmentation of labs have led to a state of emergency when it becomes urgent to investigate their significance, objectives, and impact.  

The goal of the presentation is to analyze three aspects of the humanities labs: its impetus, implementation, and impact. The first part aims to trace a history of the humanities labs, covering the impulse and the mechanism of their creation. This section includes also mapping out laboratories in the humanities established all over the world. The second part presents the complex landscape of the laboratories in the humanities, launched in various ways as a physical research lab, a makerspace, a virtual network, a community project, etc. The last part examines the features of laboratories that significantly reconfigure the humanities seen as an innovative, digital technology-based field, hands-on experimental research, situated practice, engaged in community affairs, and collaborating with local companies.

My Presentation in Helsinki Digital Humanities Research Seminar

I am pleased to say that this Friday I am going to give a speech, entitled “Visualizing Electronic Literature Collections” in Digital Humanities Research Seminar at the University of Helsinki (Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40B, 3rd floor, lecture room 13).

More about event: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/digital-humanities-helsinki/digital-humanities-research-seminar

More about my presentation: http://urszulapawlicka.com/visualizingELC/

All welcome!

ACLA 2016!

In this year the American Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Meeting took place at Harvard University in Cambridge on March 17-20. Big conference gathered nearly 3000 people from over the world. Nearly 270 seminars were divided into four streams. The various topics of seminars were related to different studies at the crossroads of the humanities and other fields, such as affect studies, queer studies, global studies, trauma studies, immaterial studies, sleep studies, popular culture, digital humanities, big data, data surveillance, animal studies, zoopoetics, dance, capitalism and slavery, performance, photography, postcolonialism, cartography etc.

My own presentation was the part of the seminar “Public Humanities in the Digital Age”. I was talking about bringing categories from science into humanities practice and its implication for the public humanities. It was nice to see that my topic attracted listeners’ attention and encouraged them to comments and discussion. This is the first part of my research devoted to the shifts in the humanities, ‘scientification’ of the humanities and  laboratory-based model for the humanities work. Nowadays, I have prepared an article for publication, based on my presentation. I hope it will be released successfully very soon. Next, I plan to investigate new methods of humanities research, conducting not in ‘office’ anymore, but in the ‘humanities labs’ implying new ways of work. So stay tuned!

Researchers in the humanities have been looking for new tools and strategies to overcome what has been called, in recent years, a crisis. According to these efforts, it is possible to change prevailing views that the humanities represent arcane or irrelevant fields by changing frames in ways that show the humanities to be useful, accessible, and actionable. Specifically, researchers have been claiming for the humanities frames and concepts from the sciences – for example, the idea of humanities ‘labs’ – that signal quantifiability, verifiability, and functionality. Increasingly, this ‘scientification of humanities’ is a crucial strategy to obtain grant funding and public support for research. (For example, NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants require a ‘data management plan’, a fairly novel requirement for humanities research.). Following the lead of Lev Manovich’s question “The Science of Culture?”, this paper examines the effect upon the humanities of the importation of terms from science such as laboratory, project, data, collaboration, data visualization, and analytics. The digital humanities, more than any other domain of the humanities, illustrates the processes by which the humanities in the 21st century seeks to become ‘public’: accessible (the publication of work-in-progress on the Internet), functional (providing digital tools for research), comprehensible, and attractive (aesthetic data visualizations).