The Five College Faculty Seminar in Digital Humanities and the Amherst College Library welcome Amanda Henrichs for a talk called "Computational Approaches to Shakespeare's Sonnets."
Henrichs is a postdoctoral fellow in English (next year, visiting assistant professor of English) at Amherst College.
This talk brings together Shakespeare's sonnets and topic modeling (a popular digital humanities process) in order to propose that word clouds are poems. As an author steeped in the humanist educational system of late-16th-century England, Shakespeare relies on the forms of his poetry to perform communicative functions; and in fact, early modern conceptions of shaped language help us understand word clouds. What unites humanist poems and digital humanities word clouds is an abiding concern with form, and particularly form as endowed with social meaning. Taken together, theories of early modern poetic form and modern digital humanities topic modeling practices emphasize that digital humanities products are not transparent keys to the text: they are generative, and are best when read like poems, a shaped remediation of language.
In this talk, Michael Warner will take a long view of media infrastructures as grounds from which to project publics, to ask what might have changed as well as what features of the public sphere might simply be newly exposed.
The current political crisis in the United States revolves around a media crisis: Twitter rivals official communiqués, bots plant invented news stories on social media to swing elections, television networks brand themselves with rival versions of the truth and reporters who document lies are accused of peddling “fake news.” It has become clear in retrospect that the comparatively stable public sphere of the 20th century rested on the gatekeeping function of major newspapers and television news, a function they no longer play. Their model of broadcast-plus-feedback has come to seem archaic. Social media, especially Facebook, have introduced new structuring principles in public discourse, having to do with their own architecture and profit model. The media infrastructure by which publics come into existence has fractured. In other respects, though, the combat of representation has been a condition of the public sphere from its emergence in the early 18th century, the very notion of the public has always been an imaginary, and publics have always been more plural than anyone wanted to admit.
Michael Warner is the Seymour H. Knox Professor of English at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins and taught at Northwestern and Rutgers before going to Yale, where he served as chair of the Department of English. His books include Publics and Counterpublics (2002), The Trouble with Normal (1999) and The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (1990). With Craig Calhoun and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, he has edited Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age (2010). He is also the editor of The Portable Walt Whitman (2003), American Sermons (1999), The English Literatures of America (with Myra Jehlen) and Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (1993).
A reception will follow. Childcare will be provided.
Nina Emery from Mount Holyoke College will present the first lecture in the 2018-2019 Forry and Micken Lecture Series on "Philosophy of Time." The title of her lecture is "What Was and What Could Be: What Makes Time Different from Modality." All lectures are free and open to the public. For further information, please contact the philosophy department at (413) 542-5805.
Rabbi Saul Berman, a leading Orthodox thinker and teacher, was part of a group of clergy who responded to a plea from Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for clergy to participate in voter registration campaigns and demonstrations in Selma, Ala., in March 1965. Arrested twice, he will share his motivation for that participation, his experiences while incarcerated with other activists and memories of the March from Selma to Montgomery.
Rabbi Berman will be introduced by Norm Jones, Ph.D., Amherst's chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Rabbi Berman was ordained at Yeshiva University, from which he also received his B.A. and his M.H.L. He completed a J.D. in law at New York University and an M.A. in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Rabbi Berman has served in pulpits in Berkeley, Calif.; Brookline, Mass.; and Manhattan and run Edah, an organization invigorating Modern Orthodox thought and religious life. Currently, Rabbi Berman is professor of Jewish studies at Stern College and the Rotter Fellow in Talmudic Law at Columbia University Law School. Rabbi Berman is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Judaica and is the author of numerous articles published in journals such as Tradition, Judaism, Journal of Jewish Studies and Dinei Yisrael. His book entitled Boundaries of Loyalty: Testimony Against Fellow Jews in Non-Jewish Courts was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press.