In recent years, visualization has become an all-purpose technique for communicating and exploring data within the humanities. There are a wide availability of tools offering different points of entry from IBM’s Many Eyes to Gephi to Tapor 2.0. Projects like the Visual Thesaurus, Mapping the Republic of Letters, and Hypercities, among countless others, all engage with visualization as an integral part of their scholarship. Yet, they do so in very different ways and from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives, leaving us to question: what is visualization in the humanities?
Why do we use it? How do we use it? And to what end?
This forum seeks to explore some of the key ideas and problems at stake in beginning to articulate an answer. Taking an expansive view of both visualization and the humanities, this forum will interrogate not only the ways in which tools are used, but also the different priorities and intersections of varying disciplines. Using four broad categories (case studies, tools, theory, and pedagogy) as a loose structure, we hope to encourage an open conversation the will speak to the growing use of visualization for research and teaching across the humanities.
Questions and Starting Points:
- Case studies: Why and how do you use visualization? What are some of the existing exemplary visualizations in humanities research? What do they offer and/do that makes them exemplary? What kind of work do they do that is different from other scholarship in the humanities?
- Tools: What visualization techniques and/or tools have you found helpful in creating visualizations? Do certain visualization techniques and/or tools have inherent limitations (practically or conceptually)?
- Theory: How might we combine what Franco Moretti has called “distant reading” with existing practices of close reading? How do we understand visualization theoretically and critically, in relation to other forms of past and present media?
- Pedagogy: What does visualization expect and/or offer pedagogically? In what ways is it a tool for understanding, communicating, and creating knowledge in the classroom?
Hosted by HASTAC Scholars:
Tassie Gniady, department of Library and Information Science, Indiana University
Brian Gutierrez, department of English, University of Washington
Abby Mullen , department of History, Northeastern University
Dana Solomon, department of English, University of California, Santa Barbara
Tara Zepel, department of Art History, University of California, San Diego
Jeremy Douglass, Department of English, University of California, Santa Barbara
Lev Manovich, Department of Computer Science, CUNY Graduate Center
Elijah Meeks, Digital Humanities Specialist, Stanford University
Michael Stamper, Indiana University / Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center
Mia Ridge, Open University, UK, Cultural Heritage Technologist and PhD candidate
(1): Manga Style Space, Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass
(2): Writing Without Words, Stefanie Posavec
(3): Chinese Canadian Immigration Pipeline, Zephyr Frank and Eric Steiner
(4): Making Visible the Invisible, George Legrady, Rama Hoetzlein, et al.
(5): Collaborative Visualization, Stanford VisGroup: Jeffrey Heer, Fernanda Viégas, Martin Wattenberg
(1): Data Visualization, Stanford Tooling Up for Digital Humanities
(2): datavisualization.ch: visual catalog of visualization tools (general)
(3): Great Tools for Data Visualization: extensive list of visualization tools (general)