Heyman Center Workshops

  • Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Braxton Craven Professor of Comparative Literature and English Emerita, Duke University

Since the 1940s, invocations of "close reading" (however understood) have figured centrally in controversies over new methodological developments in literary studies: e.g., the New Criticism, structuralism, New Historicism, deconstruction, ideology critique, and, notably now, the Digital Humanities.

  • Rens Bod, Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Amsterdam

Rens Bod, professor at University of Amsterdam, sketches the longue durée of the pattern-seeking tradition in the humanities and compares it to the interpretative tradition. Bod argues that interpretations were not always in opposition to pattern-seeking, but were often constructed on the patterns found. The common wisdom that the humanities are moving towards science when they search for patterns is mistaken. Instead, the search for patterns has been a continuous line in the humanities from Antiquity onwards.

  • Joseph Dumit, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis
  • Kevin Ochsner, Professor of Psychology, Columbia University

In this talk, the early brain-computer analogy is investigated for how strange and surprising it started out being, challenging researchers to imagine what it might be like to be running programs. Register for the Workshop at Eventbrite.

On Method: On Philology

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
  • Nadia Altschul, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Johns Hopkins University

Philology and the reconstruction of texts has been a main humanistic method since the purported end of the middle ages. Today’s exchange will delve into the history of philology and its basic methodological assumptions, bringing to the fore some of its colonial underpinnings, and asking digital humanists, as part of the conversation, about connections between DH and this core method in humanities research.

  • Nima Bassiri, Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities, University of Chicago
  • Andrew Gerber, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University

This workshop event examines the historical relationship between psychoanalysis and brain science. Rather than considering that relationship as a narrative of Freud’s transition from neurology to metapsychology — a historical approach that can often be oriented towards fulfilling the demands of contemporary research — the paper instead situates Freud’s neuropathology and metapsychology within a broader set of anxieties and problems faced by both neurologists and psychiatrists in nineteenth-century brain and behavioral medicine. Register for the Workshop at Eventbrite.

  • Chad Wellmon, Associate Professor of German Studies, University of Virginia

If the recent diatribes against the digital humanities have done anything, they have demonstrated how truncated and ahistorical most of our conceptions of the humanities are. We need a history and vision of the humanities capacious enough to see them not as a particular method or set of disciplines but as a disposition, as a way of engaging the world. 

On Method: Introducing Paper Machines

Monday, November 17, 2014
  • Jo Guldi, Assistant Professor of History, Brown University

How do you summarize millions of books with a single tool? The question is relevant to literary scholars, but especially to historians of political institutions and the "official mind." Paper Machines is a toolkit that works with minimal code on the texts that historians and other scholars are already using, visualizing them as their subjects change over time and space.

Hedonistic psychology – the attribution of human motivation to aversion to pain and attraction to pleasure – has a long history, stretching from Thomas Hobbes to B. F. Skinner, and beyond. Starting from contemporary investigations of the psychology of appetite, addiction, and reward, this talk will ask what we might learn from the history of the science of pain and pleasure. 

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