Sorting the Digital Humanities Out
Workshop at Umeå University
December 5-6, 2013, #sortingDH

HUMlab intends to bring together a mid-sized group of people to approach the digital humanities as a field and future. Welcome!

The intention is not to come up with yet another manifesto, or to describe what is already there, but rather to focus on the intermediate future and what we can do to move beyond just discussing the field to actually implementing a seven-year plan of action. The event is invitation only.

It is suggested that the tent of 'big tent digital humanities' is not large enough. While an inclusive notion of the digital humanities seems tenable, we also need to acknowledge that the digital humanities is not everything. There will be a focus on scholarly and educational perspectives, as well as institutional and infrastructural issues, and again, implementation in a mid-range time perspective is key. Sweden (and Scandinavia) will serve as one case study, but the scope is clearly international.

Questions discussed may include the (digital) humanities as a means of tackling challenges in the world, the digital humanities as a humanities project, the connection between the digital humanities and media studies, postcolonial/gender/queer perspectives, the "neutrality" of tools, the role of making, intellectual middleware, research questions that drive infrastructural development, the importance of situated infrastructure (such as labs), key contributions to scholarship and education, the digital humanities as an educational think tank, and the connection to environmental/medical/public humanities. All these (and other) questions will be framed against a mid-range time perspective and case studies.


HUMlab will serve as a platform for the workshop, which also means that some of the sentiment of HUMlab will hopefully be part of the workshop: an inclusive notion of the digital humanities, the importance of intellectual and technological engagement, and sharpness and intensity as well as niceness. Some materials and questions will be distributed ahead of time, and participants will participate actively based on the readings and the different experience and perspectives they bring to the table. Participants will also be asked to suggest issues to be discussed.

Date, time, activities:

The workshop will start at 10:00 am December 5, 2013, and end in the late evening of December 6. There will also be seminars and activities in the afternoon of December 4. The social program will be integrated, and there will be a dinner in the evening of December 5. Also, there will be a traditional glögg (mulled wine) Christmas party at Patrik Svensson's house in the evening of December 6. Participants are invited to attend the glögg party as well as the dinner.

Workshop format:

The format will be mixed, but a number of participants will be asked to do brief presentations, and there will be themed sessions as well as group work, technology-centered sessions and we will make most use of the lab facilities. Some key remote participants will also be brought into the conversation. There will be plenty of time for structured discussion.

Project work will be carried out in groups. The projects will principally be about the digital humanities seven years from now and the job will be to articulate a concept and an implementation plan, and to make use of some of HUMlab's technological infrastructure to do this. There will be conditions and constraints (to make the task feasible and sharp enough). More information will be given as we get closer to December.

In the late afternoon of December 6, one of HUMlab's screen and interaction rich spaces will be used for an installation based on the workshop and the participants' project work. A wider community will be invited to the installation, which will serve as a multiple-perspective implementation plan enacted in an interaction space.

Organisers / Advisors:

The workshop is convened by HUMlab, Umeå University. Patrik Svensson serves as the curator, and works together with staff and faculty at Umeå University, a reference group and a distinguished advisory board. Among the members in the reference group are: Cecilia Lindhé (Umeå University), Pelle Snickars (the Royal Library), Mats Dahlström (the Swedish School of Library and Information Science), Coppélie Cocq (Umeå University) and Finn Arne Jørgensen (Umeå University). The members of the distinguished advisory board are Johanna Drucker (UC Los Angeles), Alan Liu (UC Santa Barbara) and Andrew Prescott (King's College London).

Partly funded by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation (through Patrik Svensson's Chair in Digital Humanities).