Columbia's Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities about events impact projects lab-culture people


We are a group of literary scholars, sociologists of knowledge, and information designers interested in experimenting with distant reading, lateral reading, cultural analytics, digital philology, micro- and macro-analysis, and textual trans-mediation. We believe that the humanities are not just a set of values or theories, they offer a way of enacting change in the world: from the creation of taxonomies, to knowledge design, material history, and large-scale text analysis. This research cluster therefore showcases new research methods, which complement traditional practices of deep thought and contextual reflection with a robust sense of making and doing.


Walking can be a mode of analysis that extends body through space. The Embodied Space Lab incorporates mobile methods of reading and map-making into philology and historiography. In the dialectic between body and space we trace apparent vectors of power, technology, gender, class, and ethnicity and draw critical cartographies: ways of seeing and reflecting on an embodied and embedded world.


More than half of the world’s population accesses the internet through a mobile phone. And yet, much of academic practice in digital humanities and computational social sciences is aimed at bandwidth-heavy, visually complicated, high-performance vision of knowledge production. Inspired by principles of minimal computing, we would like to experiment—study, imagine, build—knowledge architectures that answer to humanistic ideals: local, contextually aware, historically rich, universally accessible, hackable, sustainable, empowered, fair, and just. We ask: How does technology affect the ways in which we think of ourselves, talk to each other, and make decisions? Projects in this research cluster engage in the critical examination of ideas at the core of deliberative democracy: freedom of speech, participatory culture, and collective memory. These theoretical concerns manifest in the applied mechanisms of governance and citizenship, contesting, in practice, our commitment to the politics of privacy or surveillance, secrecy or transparency, preservation (as in the duty to remember) or entropy (as in, the right to be forgotten). Our (NYC-based) proximity to the worlds of journalism, library science, and publishing gives us an opportunity to affect meaningful change in redressing inequalities of access, to envision the future of books and literacy, and to experiment with new modalities of human-computer-human interaction.


Media become palpable in transmission, as when, for example, an audio signal is transformed from sound waves into electromagnetic pulse for digital storage. This research cluster concerns the material conditions of media production, reception, and dissemination. We are media theorists, archivists, practitioners, and historians interested in making good on the metaphor of media ‘archaeology.’ Archaeology, in its literal sense, reveals platforms and infrastructures that support cultural practice. To recover the object in its critical-theoretical figuration is to encounter it also as an epistemic thing and to recreate, experimentally, devices and techniques that brought it into existence.