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Victorian Data

  • University of Virginia

  • November 15-16, 2019

2018 Conference CFP

The newly-formed Victorianist Data Network will host its free inaugural conference at the University of Virginia on November 15-16, 2019. Our conception of data encompasses British and North American practices for gathering and expressing information; cultural attitudes toward data; the rising disciplines and technologies that lead to today’s communications, new media, critical coding, and data science; digital collections; digital pedagogies; quantitative methods; data theory, and digital humanities. We welcome proposals from those working with historical and/or technical data, as well as the digital-curious. Together, we hope to move data from the margins of nineteenth-century studies by recognizing its centrality to research and methods of all kinds in this international long century (ca. 1780-1920).

We welcome a range of humanist fields and interdisciplinary areas, including literature, history, and art history. Come to share your work, ask your questions about how to get started in a new direction, and learn about what Victorianists have been doing with archives, maps, social networks, book history, sciences from social to physical, corpus linguistics or Natural Language Processing, spectral imaging and data visualization, 3D modeling and virtual reality, and many other possible ways to capture, visualize, and interpret data. The conference is meant to inspire insights, fresh approaches, and productive collaborations among a diverse group of participants, including those from institutions of limited resources. While we aspire toward best practices with data and the new affordances of computational research, we wish to acknowledge the inevitable consequences, from theoretical to ethical, of our chosen designs.

The Data Caucus is chaired by Megan Ward. Alison Booth chairs the University of Virginia’s Host Committee for this inaugural conference, joined by Andrew Stauffer and Cristina Richieri Griffin. UVA, having hosted NINES and other digital and data research groups, offers a good venue for taking stock of the way we do data now. Participants will meet a range of digital humanities librarians, faculty, and graduate students, and may find time to visit the Rare Book School or Special Collections.

Events will be plenary, without full-length keynote addresses. In pursuit of a lively, generative conference, we propose several different ways to participate:

Roundtables: Submit abstracts for short (5-7 minutes) provocations on any one of the following topics. These descriptions are just starting points - feel free to chime in from any angle:

  • Decolonizing Data. How did data rule the Victorian empire? How do we decolonize Victorian data? How might postcolonial or global data help us expand our idea of the Victorian world?
  • Bad Data. Do we know bad data when we see it? Why might bad data be worse than no data at all? Examples of Victorian data that did harm, or algorithms of oppression? When might more data be illusory?
  • Wishful data. We all know the historical record is full of gaps, but what might new methods of analysis bring to light? Can new tech reveal new histories or is data not the answer to understanding the past?

Panels: Submit abstracts for 15-20 minute presentations that use, theorize, or historicize interdisciplinary nineteenth-century data.

Project Showcase: This session will display projects - via poster or screen - that engage with Victorian data in some way. Please send an abstract describing your project and its use or interpretation of Victorian data, as well as the best medium for its display.

Pedagogy: Do you have a tool or method to teach? Or innovative lesson plans to share? Presentations may vary from shorter walk-through of a lesson to a 20-minute demonstration of digital pedagogy.

UPDATE: Proposals are due by March 25, 2019. To apply, please send 250-300 word abstracts to State in your abstract which roundtable, panel, or showcase best suits your proposal.

Registration is required of presenters and attendees, but the conference is free and open to the public. The University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, is well served by Amtrak and a regional airport (CHO) twenty minutes from Grounds; it is within driving distance of Richmond (RIC) and Washington, D.C. (IAD/Dulles, 2.5 hours’ drive; DCA/National, 3+ hours’ drive). Depending on funding, we anticipate offering a few small travel bursaries for graduate student presenters.

The conference is co-sponsored by the English Department, the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, the Scholars’ Lab and the University of Virginia Library.

CFP Document