What is Texts & Technology?

This question arises inevitably when the name of our doctoral program crosses people’s monitors or appears on a CV: unlike the disciplines entrenched in the academy’s history, “Texts & Technology” is a provocation, an invitation to work outside those disciplines and confront challenges that demand an understanding of the layers of the systems that are shaping our world. From the interface and operational layers of the operating systems we take for granted until confronted with a blue screen; to the video games and casual games that fill the spaces in our daily lives and commutes; to the social media networks where friendships and ideologies are forged and broken; these systems demand new ways of seeing.

When Texts & Technology was founded in 2001, it was part of an early move towards transdisciplinary thinking driven by increased disruption of humanities workflows and methods by technology. In 2011, Ian Bogost offered his commentary on the challenge of defining the digital humanities, suggesting that “despite constant critical theoretical incantations about futurity and deferral and uncertainty and politics, the humanities are finally discovering that they ought to care about the present and the future.” Not yet another decade later, it is similarly still challenging to define the scope of Texts & Technology, a transdisciplinary discourse that encompasses a range of potential specializations and asks students to wrestle with questions and platforms that are constantly changing: in short, to care about the present and the future. Academic communities are increasingly recognizing the need to collapse the silos of traditional disciplines and infuse humanities values and methods of critical inquiry into our approach to technology. Texts & Technology provides students with the tools to drive these changes.

Students in Texts & Technology are both scholars and makers. They engage with texts that include code, images and image-text, databases, and languages, and in doing so advance the present (and future) of humanist inquiry.

Anastasia Salter