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Visiting Fellow Archive (2007-2008)

Cathy Davidson


The 2007-2008 Institute for the Humanities Visiting Fellow is Cathy N. Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Duke University; and co-founder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory,

Professor Davidson will be in residence at UIC from October 15- 26, 2007, offering two seminars and a public lecture. The two seminars are open to faculty and advanced graduate students. Preregistration is not required but it is highly recommended. The lecture on October 22 is open to the public.


Lecture: Monday, October 22, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.
“Olaudah Equiano and the Fiction of History”
Seminar I: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“Humanities 2.0: Or, A Manifesto for Technology in an Age of Humanism.”
This seminar focuses on the humanities and technology, with a special emphasis on the phenomenon known as “Web 2.0”, collaborative, user-generated, networked content. What are the implications for the humanities of this new mode of interactive knowledge-building? What are the forms of critique we can bring to this era in technology development? And how can our own humanistic disciplines be challenged and changed by the preoccupations of this moment?Seminar I Readings:

From Special Issue of CT Watch3.2 (2007 May)
Socializing Cyberinfrastructure: Networking the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.Eds. David Theo Goldberg and Kevin D. Franklin
David Theo Goldberg and Kevin D. Franklin, “Socializing Cyberinfrastructure,” pp. 1-2.

Cathy N. Davidson, “Data Mining, Collaboration, and Institutional Infrastructure for
Transforming Research and Teaching in the Human Sciences and Beyond,” pp. 3-6.

Suzy Beemer, Richard Marciano, and Todd Presner, “Seeing Urban Spaces Anew at the
University of California,” pp. 7-14.

Patricia Seed, “Flat Maps in a 3D World: Visualizing the Past,” pp. 15-18.

Davidson, “Humanities 2.0,” PMLA June 2007 (Please request from
Davidson, “A Cat in the Stack,” (blog on the website; browse this blog to gain a better sense of the scope of HASTAC)

Davidson, “We Can’t Ignore the Influence of Digital Technologies.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 53:29, B20 (Please request from
James Boyle, “A Closed Mind About an Open World,” Financial Times 20:24 (August 7, 2006) (Please request from

Seminar II:
Thursday, October 25, 2007 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“The Lessons of Literature and History: the Case of Olaudah Equiano”
This seminar is a follow-up on the public lecture and focuses on the way literature and history are used to make moral, social, political, and culture lessons more about the present than about the past. The seminar will focus on the text of “The Interesting Narrative” within the context of many other evolving narratives of the eighteenth- and nineteenth centuries, changed by their authors over time, reread by different generations of readers, and appropriated for a range of purposes (also changing over time). What are the relationships between “textual” and “extratextual” features and is there a way to separate the one from the other? The case of Equiano is particularly interesting since he published his narrative himself, found subscribers, then sold it on an abolitionist lecture tour. Where does a text end? Does it end?

Seminar II Readings:

Carretta, Vincent, ed. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings. NY: Penguin (Rev. Ed.) 2003. Book available at UIC Bookstore Textbook Center.
Bugg, John. “The Other Interesting Narrative: Olaudah Equiano’s Public Book Tour.” PMLA 121.5 (2006): 1424-1442. (Please request from