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Public Lecture ‘The Role of the Humanities in an Information Age’ by Ted Underwood, Visiting Scaliger Professor

Leiden University Libraries invites you to the public lecture by Ted Underwood, Visiting Scaliger Professor. This lecture will be held on Thursday 21 November, from 16.00-17.00 in the Lipsius building, Room 0.19, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden. Afterwards, you can meet the new Visiting Scaliger Professor and drinks will be served.


Please register before 21 November via aanmelding@library.leidenuniv.nl (subject ‘Underwood’ and number of participants).

The Role of the Humanities in an Information Age
In an age of print media, it was easy to see how scrutinizing novels and historical documents prepared students to scrutinize arguments in the newspaper. It is harder to feel confident that the humanities are preparing students for civic life now that influence is exerted through algorithmically filtered social media and microtargeted ads. Many observers have concluded that the scholar's role in our era is simply to oppose the infiltration of culture by algorithms. In this talk Ted Underwood will try to sketch a more optimistic vision of the future, pointing to places where humanists are joining hands with data science to create a form of public reflection that fuses the scale of machine learning with the historical self-consciousness of humanistic tradition.

Ted Underwood
Professor Ted Underwood teaches both in the School of Information Sciences and in the English Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research focusses on statistical and computational modeling of humanistic evidence, machine learning and text mining, book history, digital libraries, sociology of literature, computational social science and digital humanities.

Underwood was trained as a Romanticist, received his Ph.D. at Cornell University, but at this point his research is as much about information science as literary criticism. Underwood is especially interested in applying machine learning to large digital collections.

He recently finished his third book about the new perspectives opened up by large digital libraries, called Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Other recent publications of Underwood are ‘Algorithmic Modeling: Or, Modeling Data We Do Not Yet Understand’ (2018), ‘The Historical Significance of Textual Distances’ (2018) and ‘Why Literary Time is Measured in Minutes’ (2018).

Visiting Scaliger Professor
The previous Visiting Scaliger Professors were Anthony Grafton (Princeton University), François Déroche (Collège de France) and Peter Frankopan (University of Oxford). 

Leiden University Libraries (UBL) thanks Elsevier for the generous support it has provided allowing the Library to appoint two Digital Scholarship Fellows and the Visiting Scaliger Professor during 2019.

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