Online Symposium The Human in Digital Humanities

Wed, 2021-06-23 09:00 to Thu, 2021-06-24 19:00

We live in times of global crises: climate change, the pandemic, and the global confrontation with structures of systemic racism. When we are watching the news and reading the papers, we are confronted with issues so far beyond our individual reach that it can be overwhelming. Within the field of digital humanities, as well as the humanities and social sciences more broadly, computational approaches allow researchers to study phenomena and events, including these crises, on ever-larger scales. The shift to datafication transforms our research fields in far-reaching ways, including how we think, how we formulate our research questions, and what answer we find. Yet, in recent years, critical questions have been raised about digital humanities’ compliance with neoliberal political structures, about its lack of diversity, and a “fundamental mismatch” between statistical tools and cultural objects.

Times of rapid transformation can give us the opportunity to rethink our fields of research and education as well as their main concepts and values. Major global changes can be a catalyst for creativity, and prompt us to reflect on what we do and how we do it. More specifically, it might be time to rethink the status of ‘the human’, and ‘humanity’, in relation to the digital tools and methods that we use. How do we envision the relation between the digital and the humanities? In what terms do we think about the human as we move toward a culture of big data, distributed AI, convergence, and globalization? Can we think of ways to use computational approaches to help further goals like equality, diversity, social justice, and well-informed citizens?

This two-day symposium brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, including Philosophy, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Cultural, Literary and Media Studies, Communication and Information Sciences, and Cognitive Science, to engage in a cross-disciplinary dialogue on these matters. The event includes a range of talks as well as a couple of interactive workshops on key methodological tools for Digital Humanities research.

You can register here:



Wednesday 23 June

10.00-10.50     Keynote: Marieke van Erp (Digital Humanities Lab @KNAW)
To be announced

11.00-12.30     Tutorial: Jan Engelen en Emmanuel Keuleers (Tilburg University)
Introductory workshop text mining

Lunch break

14.00-14.30     Mike Kestemont & Folgert Karsdorp (University of Antwerp)
The Birds in the Bush. What can Occupancy Models from Ecology Teach us about the Survival of Medieval Literature?

14.30-15.00     Lucie Chateau (Tilburg University)
Finding the Human in the Dark Forest: Perspectives on User Practices outside of Social Media Platforms

Coffee break

15.15-15.45     Massimiliano Spotti (Tilburg University)
Technologies of power and human suspicion: Negating indigenous knowledge through online toponymy in an asylum-seeking procedure

15.45-16.15     Bruce Mutsvairo (Auburn University)
To be announced

Coffee break

16.40-17.30     Keynote: Jessie Labov (Central European University)
To be announced

Thursday 24 June

10.00-10.50     Keynote: Eric Postma (Tilburg University)
Natural Intelligence versus Artificial Intelligence

11.00-12.30     Tutorial: Tom van Nuenen, Xavier Ferrer Aran, Mark Coté (King’s College)
Introductory workshop: Discovering and Attesting Digital Discrimination

Lunch break

14.00-14.30     Jessica Pressman (San Diego State University)
Leading with the Human in Building a Digital Humanities Initiative: San Diego State University

14.30-15.00     Menno van Zaanen (North-West University Potchefstroom)
Building communities of practice for Digital Humanities

Coffee break

15.15-15.45     Iris Hendrickx (Radboud University)
Practical and theoretical limitations of sentiment analysis on tweets, dreams and conversations

15.45-16.15     Stefaan Blancke (Tilburg University)
Digital humanities and cultural epidemiology: A match made in heaven?

Coffee break

16.40-17.30     Keynote: Susan Aasman (University of Groningen)
To be announced