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Politics of the Digital: Poetry, Technology, and the University

Saturday, February 01, 2014
8:45 AM - 6:45 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Humanities 1, room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High St, Santa Cruz

This symposium at UCSC will explore the interdisciplinary possibilities for poetic and multimedia production in a digital era, as well as the shifting political and aesthetic implications for research and creative work in the humanities. The all-day symposium will feature discussions by UCSC graduate students and faculty from multiple disciplines, as well as a keynote from Professor of Bibliographical Studies at UCLA and renowned book artist Johanna Drucker.

For more information, including a full schedule, details about the symposium panels, and the abstract for Johanna Drucker’s keynote, please visit the Poetry & Politics website:

We hope to see you there! We hope you'll also join us at the poetry reading on January 31 at the Felix Kulpa Gallery in downtown Santa Cruz.

This event is organized by the Poetry & Politics Research Collective with the sponsorship of the Puknat Literary Studies Endowment.


Friday, January 31, 2014: Poetry reading at 6 p.m. at the Felix Kulpa Gallery
Featuring Johanna Drucker with Eireene Nealand, Margaret Rhee, and Tsering Wangmo.

Saturday, February 1, 2014: Interdisciplinary symposium at Humanities 1, room 210

8:45 - 9:15 a.m.
Continental breakfast (room 202)

9:15 - 9:30 a.m.
Opening remarks

9:30 - 11:00 a.m.
Panel One: Textual and Visual Technologies—Pre-Histories of a Digital Era
As an introduction to key questions of the symposium, this panel will help to broaden the historical scope of problematics that will later be posed in relation to our current, digital context. With the development of different technologies, what are the changing conditions by which material histories of texts and images become constructed in modernity? How do we understand the present in relation to this history? Exploring formal and visual aspects of textual production and the creation / negotiation of meaning, papers on this panel will take a variety of approaches by which to historicize the dynamics of technology and knowledge production.

Respondent: Professor Tyrus Miller, Literature, UCSC
Panelists: Christopher Chitty (PhD Candidate, History of Consciousness, UCSC), Heidi Morse (PhD Candidate, Literature, UCSC), Eireene Nealand (PhD Candidate, Literature, UCSC)

11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Panel Two: Digital Practice and Database Aesthetics
At the intersection of aesthetics and politics, this panel will consider different problematics of digital media, artistic and literary production, and interdisciplinarity. What is at stake in the digitization of scholarly research, and of different artistic and literary forms? What are the possibilities for creative and political interventions to digital practices in the university? How have the evaluative standards of computer science and engineering come to bear on literary and artistic practices? In a visual culture that is increasingly predominated by graphic design, what dynamics of content and form have emerged between text and printed media?

Respondent: Professor Sharon Daniel, Film and Digital Media, UCSC
Panelists: Jessica Beard (PhD Candidate, Literature, UCSC), Kyle Lane-McKinley (Instructor, UCSC), Aaron Reed (Digital Arts and New Media MFA, Computer Science PhD Candidate, UCSC)

12:45 - 2 p.m.
Lunch (room 202)

2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Panel Three: Neoliberalism and the Digital Future
What are the politics of the "Digital Humanities" as an emergence of the neoliberal university? How do we understand the coincidence of university privatization, the rise of immaterial labor in postmodern capitalism, and the digitization of education? Continuing the dialogue about digitization initiated by the previous panel, this discussion will be more specifically engaged with the various political outcomes of the Digital Humanities, within the contexts of university privatization and contemporary poetry. With the rise of immaterial labor in postmodern capitalism, what is at stake in the Digital Humanities as an emergence of the neoliberal university? What are the different forms of embodiment and knowledge production that have come with new media?

Respondent: Professor Christine Hong, Literature, UCSC
Panelists: David Lau (UCSC Instructor), Jeb Purucker (PhD Candidate, Literature, UCSC), Margaret Rhee (PhD Candidate, Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley)

3:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Coffee and tea service

4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Keynote from Johanna Drucker

Towards a New Humanism
The activities associated with the term "digital humanities" have gained much attention recently in academic and mainstream venues. But have core values of humanism been discounted as a result? Do the techniques of analytic processing or other engagements with large data displace or devalue those of more traditional method and even, perhaps, traffic in the worst kind of concessions to administered culture? Might these digital approaches be at odds with the tenets of humanistic inquiry? What are the ways out of a binaristic opposition between a retro-oriented, possibly conservative, defense of “the humanities” and a techno-digital approach that seems to some to dehumanize cultural materials by treating them as “data”? The answer might be in recovering the methods of humanism, rather than just its objects. Engagement with the materiality of texts and artifacts crosses many disciplinary lines—from traditional critical studies, bibliography, and law to current studies of media archaeology, new materialism, and digital interpretation. This talk addresses ways in which the cultural authority of the humanities might be formulated as a new humanism whose methods and values extend traditional interpretative work while taking up some of the potential offered by data-driven and algorithm-based approaches to the study of human culture.

5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Reception at the Kresge Provost House
Added to the calendar on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 8:36AM
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