Open lecture at Media Lab

Welcome to an open lecture

The Laboratory Turn in the Humanities

by Dr. Urszula Pawlicka
Visiting Researcher in Media Lab
Department of Media, Aalto University

3 October 2017, from 13:00–14:00
Department of Media, Aalto ARTS
Miestentie 3, Otaniemi, 4th floor, room 426

The humanities has made significant conceptual shifts that include fostering strong innovative and collaborative research, employing technologies, and building a bridge between the academy, industry, and community. Above changes mean designing and defining the humanities anew. Creating an academic discipline requires an ‘administrative imagination’; that is to say we must build a structure aligned with development strategy. Consequently, the humanities has undergone an ‘infrastructure turn’ over the past ten years and launched a new physical place: a laboratory. The emergence of labs in the humanities has been crucial for “redefining the role of the humanities” and “re-configuration of the humanities offered by computational technologies”; however, the proliferation and the fragmentation of labs have led to a state of emergency when it becomes urgent to investigate their significance, objectives, and impact.

The goal of the presentation is to analyze three aspects of the humanities labs: its impetus, implementation, and impact. The first part aims to trace a history of the humanities labs, covering the impulse and the mechanism of their creation. This section includes also mapping out laboratories in the humanities established all over the world. The second part presents the complex landscape of the laboratories in the humanities, launched in various ways as a physical research lab, a makerspace, a virtual network, a community project, etc. The last part examines the features of laboratories that significantly reconfigure the humanities seen as an innovative, digital technology-based field, hands-on experimental research, situated practice, engaged in community affairs, and collaborating with local companies.

Urszula Pawlicka is a visiting researcher in Media Lab Helsinki at Aalto University. She obtained her Doctorate degree in Literary Studies at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (2016). She participated in the following international conferences and scholarships: “The Making of the Humanities VI” at the University of Oxford (2017), the American Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Meeting at Harvard University (2016), Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria (2014), Fulbright Scholarship in Creative Media and Digital Culture at Washington State University Vancouver, WA, US (2014/2015), and fellowship in English Department at Stony Brook University, NY, US (2015). Over the years, she has published peer-reviewed scholarly articles (“English Studies”, “CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture”, and “Teksty Drugie”) and two monographs, including Literatura cyfrowa. W stronę podejścia procesualnego (Electronic Literature: Towards Processual Approach) released this month. Her current research interests include the infrastructure and conceptual transformations in the humanities, digital humanities, and the sociology of scientific knowledge.