On January 24-26, GW was the proud host of the university's first Digital Humanities Symposium
|Patty Chu and Peter Feng|
The symposium was initiated by Medieval Studies and the GW Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare, which is an interesting field to interact with technology. How did that come about? How do they interact?
(GW English professor and co-organizer of the Digital Humanities Symposium)
|Professor Jonathan Hsy|
If you were to ask most people to name fields that incorporate use of digital technologies, most people would probably not think of fields like medieval studies or Shakespeare scholarship. Many of the people associated with the GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute work with digital technologies in different ways. Some libraries and other institutions -- such as the British Library and Walters Art Museum -- have digitalized many of their manuscript collections, which means that rare books and other materials are more widely available for researchers and students. I often use digital images of medieval manuscripts (including illustrations of literary texts or other materials) in my teaching as well as my own scholarship. Will Noel, one of our invited speakers, is a librarian who has been very active on Twitter and other social media encouraging institutions to make online images of medieval manuscripts freely accessible to the public via Creative Commons licensing.
Alexa Huang’s "Global Shakespeares" project offers an online archive of performance videos from all over the world and other resources for anyone interested in Shakespeare reception or broader issues of cultural exchange. In short, there are many ways GW faculty and others working in medieval and Renaissance studies engage with digital technologies. For some, it's expanding the availability of materials that are otherwise obscure, rare, or hard to access; for others, it's about creating an archive of materials that allows us to engage with artistic works of the past (such as literary texts and plays) in new ways.
One of the major aims of the Digital Humanities Symposium was to show that engaging with digital technologies is not just something that people do in science and engineering departments -- people working in the humanities (including visual arts, literature, theater, linguistics, and cultural studies) all use digital technologies too, and humanists are often keenly interested in thinking more carefully about how we use media and how media transforms knowledge and produces new forms of art.
Together with Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, GW Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare initiated the idea for the Symposium because it shares the goals of the conference. The Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare is a signature program in GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences that offers a select group of students a unique opportunity to explore the works of William Shakespeare in a global and multimedia context.