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Digital Humanities and the History of Rhetoric

Ned O’Gorman, Ekatrina Haskins and Kassie Lamp

Digital Humanities and the History of Rhetoric 

Ned O’Gorman, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ekatrina Haskins, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Kassie Lamp, Arizona State University 

Without announcing the fact, digital technologies have already significantly influenced scholarship in the history of rhetoric: 

  • Texts formerly available only in book form can now be found on-line.
  • Reference sources like those offered at Tufts University's Perseus Digital Library make work across ancient texts and with ancient languages more efficient and agile than work in book references.
  • The great preponderance of the everyday work of scholars and teachers of the history of rhetoric is done in computer-based platforms, from Word to Gmail.
  • All of our journals have adopted digital publication platforms, and most are now available on-line (whether through subscription, or open access).
  • Recent work in the visuality and materiality of rhetorical history has turned to digital technologies both as a means of exploration and investigation, and as a means of argument and illustration.
  • Teaching the history of rhetoric has become both more challenging and more promising as classrooms outfitted with new technologies enable teachers to show as well as tell.

 Yet, the challenge before History of Rhetoric scholars with regard to the  remains, and it comes in the form of a question: what contribution can the Digital Humanities to historical study? 

Here we must understand the Digital Humanities as more than "digital technologies" in the sense of hardware and software.  The Digital Humanities = hardware/software + institutional apparatuses + scholarly community, leading historians to ask 

  1. what data processing challenges are before us?
  2. what interpretative challenges are before us?
  3. what visualization challenges are before us?
  4. what aural challenges are before us?
  5. what teaching challenges are before us?
  6. what collaborative challenges are before us?
  7. what public challenges are before us? 

Our meetings will include discussion of modest readings, meetings with influential people in the digital humanities (including the Director of the National Endowment for the Art’s Digital Humanities Office), and discussion of current projects within the history of rhetoric that intersect with the digital humanities. 

We welcome applications from any interested in Digital Humanities work. This seminar is co-sponsored with RSA by the American Society for the History of Rhetoric.

Questions? Contact Ned O’Gorman, nogorman@illinois.edu

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