The Human in Digital Humanities

Online Symposium, Tilburg School of Humanities & Digital Sciences
Tilburg University

June 23 & 24, 2021

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.

This symposium is organized by Inge van de Ven (TSHD, Department of Culture Studies) and Sander Verhaegh (TSHD, Department of Philosophy), assisted by Annemijn Gommers. The event is funded by the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD) Tilburg University, the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis, and the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies


Digital Humanities Tilburg