Direct Encounters with History

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December 05, 2016
Summer of Darkness and the Performance of Archive

Invited Talk:
December 5, 2016
Southern Methodist University, Dallas Texas

Direct Encounters with History: Summer of Darkness and the Performance of Archive

Situated at the intersection of computer science and the humanities, "Digital Humanities" typically refers to multimedia approaches to archiving or museum exhibitions or to the application of advanced data analysis and visualization techniques in a humanities context. While these approaches can elicit powerful insights, they are far from the only ways in which digital computation has changed our relationship to the humanities. Computational ideas and computational thinking have transformed our modes of communication and our methods of creating and consuming culture. They have also changed our techniques for crafting and telling stories and how we relate to history and narrative.

In this talk, we present a case study of the Summer of Darkness iOS app, a digital humanities project that tells the story of "The Year Without Summer" through real-time notifications, weather animations, and excerpts of letters, journals, and literary works by Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori. Using techniques borrowed from theater, performance, and fiction, we examine how computation can be used to transcend “big data” and analytics to add an experiential aspect to digital humanities, turning an archive of material into a performance and facilitating a direct encounter with history.

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