Humanities Center Director: Thomas Wilson

Interdisciplinary thinking across the Humanities

The Humanities Center interdisciplinary collaborations projects, 2021-2022:

Digital Technologies and Ways of Seeing

Nadya Bair, Assistant Professor, Art History
Anna Huff, Assistant Professor, Digital Arts
Heather Kropp, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies

In 2020, Hamilton College hired three new faculty as part of its Digital Hamilton Initiative. We have been meeting informally over the past year to discuss how each of us incorporates digital methods and technologies into our teaching and research, and to brainstorm more formalized collaborations that could be reflected across the College curriculum. While we work in different disciplines – environmental sciences, art history, and art practice – we are all exploring such issues as digital ethics (including the intersection of digital technologies with race, gender, and privacy issues), data collection, and data visualization. We are also all working with concrete visual technologies including drones and virtual reality (VR). We propose to unite these issues through a year-long exploration of Digital Technologies and Ways of Seeing. Our goal is to explore how machine-aided vision, as well as the interpretation of digital data and imagery, is transforming the arts, humanities, and sciences. During 2021-2022 we plan to pilot a year-long collaboration in which our classes come together once a semester with an invited, high-profile expert for an in-depth and interdisciplinary exploration of drone vision (fall 2021) and artificial intelligence (spring 2022).

Music and Science from Pythagoras to Brian Eno

Lydia Hamessley, Professor of Music
David Bird, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Music
Edward Halley Barnet, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History

Music has always been epistemically complex, caught between discourses of art and science. From Pythagoras' legendary first discovery of the ratios of harmony in Ancient Greece to Brian Eno's more recent experimentations with the electronic generation of sound, scientists and artists have engaged with music through a wide range of knowledge-making discourses, practices, and instruments. Our project seeks to interrogate the complex relationship between music and science throughout history by drawing on both historical and musicological methodologies. We will orient our investigation around three interrelated questions. First, how has musical theory, practice, and experience informed and influenced the ways in which various historical communities have created knowledge about the natural world? Second, how have different forms of knowledge and technology changed the ways in which music is composed, performed, and experienced? And finally, how can we use our study of musical knowledge, practice, and technology to rethink the boundaries and hierarchies that ostensibly separate science and art? The guests invited to participate in this project bring a diverse range of perspectives to these questions, through work spanning science's influence on early tuning systems, 17th- and 18th-century musical automata, the technology of 19th-century opera, and modern computer systems designed to improvise with live musicians. These interdisciplinary investigations will prompt reflection on the relationships between science, art, and technology, and the impact these intersections have on human expression in musical practice.

“North by Southwest Makerspace: Book Culture From Print to Digital”

Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives, LITS
Tina Hall, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing
Nhora Serrano, Associate Director for Digital Learning and Research, LITS
Kristin Strohmeyer, Research and Community Engagement Librarian, LITS
Margie Thickstun, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

What is a makerspace? Where are makerspaces on Hamilton’s campus? And how are these spaces central to Digital Hamilton initiatives? 

Makerspaces, also called hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs, are collaborative spaces where people gather to get creative with DIY learning projects, invent new ones, and share ideas on a variety of topics including books and their history of making. Since the first official makerspace convened six years ago in a library in upstate New York, libraries have remained an ideal setting for makerspace events across the country. Moreover, the idea of a communal creative space has only gained momentum and become increasingly popular over the years, and at Hamilton College a makers' movement shows no signs of slowing down especially when it comes to Digital Hamilton. Burke Library, Special Collections, and the department of Literature and Creative Writing currently offer activities and courses that explore a variety of community resources like letterpress, 3D printers, VR/AR, rare books, and look forward to spotlighting the makerspace as a collaborative and creative space for engagement and exploration of book culture.

Upcoming Events

"Sounding Human and/or Machine?" 
Speaker: Deirdre Loughridge, Associate Professor of Music (Northeastern University),
Time: October 5 4:15-5:30pm 
Room: KJ 101 
In this talk, Deirdre Loughridge, Associate Professor of Music (Northeastern University), will investigate the musical configurations of human/machine from 1750 to today. The talk is part of a broader interdisciplinary series sponsored by the Humanities Center, "Music and Science from Pythagoras to the Synthesizer," which interrogates the complex relationship between music and science throughout history by drawing on both historical and musicological methodologies.