Caroline Bassett

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Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Cambridge, UK

Plenary Talk: Digital Humanities: What Does it Need to Be?

Abstract: Digital Humanities has never been a settled thing. There may be US and European origin stories about what it was, or how it was supposed to be. But it has always morphed, moved along with critical priorities, the possibilities for funding, the development and explosive spread into everyday life and cultures of the technologies that underpinned it. Today DH might be central to the future of ‘the humanities’ in an age when they seem threatened by the rise of solutionism and instrumentalism. But is that because it produces an alternative way of understanding new forms of knowledge production to the standard industry offerings? Or because it lines up with what the market wants? In this talk I want to suggest that DH is powerful because it can map across divisions universities are bad at breaking down; those between libraries and faculties for instance. DH is magpie like, it takes what it needs. In this talk I ask what it does this for, and what it gives back. In whose interests does it do its work, what kinds of results can it produce, what does it need to be?

Brief Biography: Caroline Bassett is Professor of Digital Humanities at Cambridge. She writes, researches and teaches about digital change and epistemic, cultural, and social transformation. Recent writing has explored critical theories of technology, media histories, new behaviourism, digital humanities and intersectional feminism. She is director of Cambridge Digital Humanities (CDH), a new research project at the University. Her latest book is Furious (Pluto, 2020), co-authored with Sarah Kember and Kate O’Riordan.