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Thursday, May 30
Data Science's X-Factor
Thu, May 30, 1:30 PM - 3:05 PM
Regency Ballroom C

Data Science In/Among/With/Toward the Humanities (305035)


*John Laudun, University of Louisiana 

Keywords: humanities,

Headlines in major news outlets over the last five years reveal the profound suspicion with which statistical methods have been received within the humanities. The pervasive belief is that a chasm lies between statistics and the humanities that not only cannot be bridged but should not be attempted, at the risk of losing the human. And yet slowly and steadily a growing number of practitioners have not only developed research programs but also pedagogical methods that open up new analytical perspectives as well as new avenues for students to explore their relationship between the subject matter and their own understanding. This paper offers a small survey of various practices to be found in the digital humanities alongside a few experiments by the author in allowing students to experience how statistical methods in fact de-mystify the meaning-making process in language and empower students not only to ground their insights in things they can see, and count, but also, in understanding texts as nothing more than certain sequences of words, build write better. Working from a broad survey to narrow applications, the paper suggests that concerns about a loss of humanity in the humanities is actually a concern for loss of certain kinds of authority, but that new kinds of authority are possible within which researchers and teachers will find a firm ground from which to offer interpretations and evaluations of the kinds of complex artifacts that have long been the purview of the domain.