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Intersection of humanities and technology focus of conference

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 4/12/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — How and where the humanities and high-tech will meet in the future is the topic scholars from the United States and abroad will explore during a conference at the University of Illinois.

The conference, “Interfaces and Visualizations: A State-of-the-Art Conference on the Humanities in Post-Human Times,” will be held April 20 and 21 in Room 407 of the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana. It is free and open to the public.

The conference Web site includes links to the program and to presenters’ abstracts.

According to organizer Lawrence R. Schehr, a professor of French at the U. of I., the term “post-human” in the title of the conference refers to the fact that because humans and machines today “meet every second, we are all, humanists and non-humanists alike, some combination of human and machine.”

He said the goal of the conference is to “explore the interfaces between the humanities and high technology.”

Toward that goal, the presenters will examine “the ways in which emerging technologies can literally and figuratively illuminate and illustrate cultural artifacts, as well as the ways the humanities can pursue traditional and not-so-traditional subjects.”

“This conference will not only produce new knowledge, but also develop innovative approaches to the issues and problems that are central to having an ongoing dialogue about humanities and high-tech at the U. of I. and elsewhere.”

Alan Liu, a professor of English at the University of California at Santa Barbara, will give the keynote lecture. His talk on “Imagining the New Media Encounter” is also a MillerComm event.

Liu’s research interests include literary theory, cultural studies, information culture and new media. He is the author of “The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information” and “Wordsworth: The Sense of History.”

Other presentations include:

• Dmitri Williams, speech communication at the U. of I., on “Code and Community: The Future of Online Games.”

• Bertrand Gervais, literary studies, University of Quebec at Montreal, “The Edenic Illusion: Cyberspace and the Myth of Transparent Media.”

• Lucy Suchman, sociology, University of Lancaster, England, “Human-Machine Configurations.”

• James Hay, speech communication at the U. of I., “Helping Themselves: Men and the Kitchen.”

Sponsors for the conference are Applied Technologies for Learning in the Arts and Sciences; Center for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; Center for Advanced Study; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; departments of English, French and speech communication; Foreign Languages Building; Graduate School of Library and Information Science; Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; Trowbridge Office on American Literature, Culture, and Society; and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory.