Parham to deliver lecture on African American Digital Humanities


This year’s annual Digital Humanities Lecture for the Society for the Humanities, “Interactivities I: difference and digital textuality,” will be delivered by Marisa Parham, visiting professor of English at University of Maryland, director for the African American Digital Humanities initiative (AADHUM), and associate director for the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH).

Parham’s Digital Humanities Lecture, set to take place online April 28 at 5:00 p.m., will discuss what might be made possible at the intersection between Black expressive traditions, digital humanities, and electronic literature, with an eye to describing the chain of interactions that link theory to practice. The talk will be free and open to the public with registration in advance.

Digital humanities, an innately interdisciplinary field, sits at the intersection of computational technology and disciplines of the humanities. Parham publishes traditional academic books and journal articles, but other essays and projects push boundaries of form and media and—for example—might exist on a website with interactive elements. A taste of her recent work can be seen in .break .dance, an experimental digital project that uses Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade as a keystone text to ground musings about time, code, and internet experience.

Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English and director of Cornell’s media studies initiative says Parham is “one of the most imaginative humanists of our generation.” Braddock describes her current and emerging projects as “strikingly original” in the way they bring together theory and creative expression: “Committed to revealing what she has called the ‘deep roots of the digital in Black cultural expression,’ she thinks with digital technologies in order to help us think beyond them.”

In an essay for “Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019,” Parham argues for the inherent importance of Black life and Black studies within the field of digital humanities. Digital platforms like social media, and specifically cultural phenomena like “Black Twitter” and #BlackLivesMatter not only operate as community-building or activist tools but “require users to orchestrate complex movements between the embodied and the digital, the present and the past, the evidential and the ephemeral, the owned and the claimed,” Parhan writes in  “Haunting, Social Media, and Black Dignity.”

The annual Digital Humanities lecture is sponsored by the Society for the Humanities and the Central New York Humanities Corridor from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Kina Viola is program coordinator for the Society for the Humanities.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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