Daniel Powell

Early Modern Digital Agendas

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For the next three weeks (8-26 July) I will be attending Early Modern Digital Agendas, an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities taking place under the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Digital Humanities. As the Directors’ “Dear Colleague” letter shows, these three weeks promise to be a sustained, productive discussion about how the digital turn in the academy is changing the field of early modern studies–or perhaps how it should be changing it. Hosted by the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Institute (in its words) “seeks to create a forum in which participants can historicize, theorize, and critically evaluate current and future digital tools and approaches.” I’m pretty excited to get my first ever Folger Reader’s Card and dive right in to talking about the intersections of early modern studies, computational methods, and how we “do” literary & cultural studies.

First, though, I have to survive this sweltering heat and humidity. The high today in Victoria, BC was 19C (felt like 22C); the high today in DC was 33C (feels like 47C). For my non metric friends, the felt high today in Victoria was 71F; the felt high in DC was 116F. All I can keep thinking is that I’ve made a huge mistake, and to fervently swear never to curse the mild, yearlong rains of the Pacific Northwest again.

But back to EMDA. The participants hail primarily from the US, Canada, and Western Europe. Some of them I know, like Kim McLean-Fiander, a postdoc at UVic, and Jacob Heil, a postdoc working with the Early Modern OCR Project at Texas A&M. A number of very well respected scholars working in these multiple areas will guide us through our discussions, including Julia Flanders, Alan Galey, Wendy Hyu Kyong Chun, Jonathan Sawday, and so on. Many of these folks are people I’ve read for comprehensive exams, so it will be nice to engage in person.

Throughout the next few weeks I will be reflecting on EMDA and the ideas we are discussing there. Hopefully, such efforts will enmesh with the Institute’s larger digital footprint.

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