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Transcriptions: A Digital Humanities Project on the Cultures of Information

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Abstract (in English): 

Transcriptions is a NEH-funded curricular development and research initiative started in 1998 by the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to focus on literary study and information society. The goal of Transcriptions is to demonstrate a paradigm—at once theoretical, instructional, and technical—for integrating new information media and technology within the core work of a traditional humanities discipline. Transcriptions seeks to "transcribe" between past and present understandings of what it means to be a literate, educated, and humane person.

Put in the form of a question: what is the relation between being "well-read" and "well-informed"? How, in other words, can contemporary culture sensibly create a bridge between its past norms of cultural literacy and its present sense of the immense power of information culture?

To address this question, Transcriptions has developed an integrated combination of the following:

  • curriculum 
  • research agenda
  • technology model
  • supporting resources (pedagogical, research, and technical guides)
  • special events

The idea is to build a working paradigm of a humanities department of the future that takes the information revolution to its heart as something to be seriously learned from, wrestled with, and otherwise placed in engagement with the lore of past or other societies with their own undergirding technologies and media. Transcriptions also collaborates with related digital humanities, arts, and society projects at UCSB and elsewhere. 

(Source: project webpage)

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Transcriptions, begun in 1998, focuses on work in digital humanities and new media.  Our overall goal is “to build a working paradigm of a humanities department of the future that takes the information revolution to its heart as something to be seriously learned from, wrestled with, and otherwise placed in engagement with the lore of past or other societies with their own undergirding technologies and media.” True to the initial vision, then, Transcriptions endeavors to be flexible, responsive, and creative.

Currently, three areas of inquiry structure our activities:

  • Electronic literature beyond the screen (new reading formats; locative and mobile media; alternate reality games)
  • Media ecologies (high-tech trash; media environments’ visualizations of climate and landscape; ALife; biomedia)
  • IT and the so-called new economy (theorizations of the network society, information society, and digital capitalism)

Transcriptions will host lectures, conferences, and other events that will be of general interest to the English deparment and to colleagues across the university. Watch the Transcriptions blog for announcements and coverage of Center-related news. Please feel free to contact us with any ideas you have about our themes and activities.

(About Transcriptions webpage)

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Record posted by: 
Maria Engberg