• Christian Rush, Gina Keplinger

Humanities on the Edge Preview: Wendy Chun

Continuing with this year’s theme of “Post-Truth Futures,” Wendy Chun will kick-start the spring semester lecture series with “Cultivating Online Spaces: Social Media as Laboratory.” Chun is currently Simon Fraser University’s Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media in the School of Communication. Before heading north, Chun spent nearly twenty years at Brown University as both Professor and Chair of the Department of Modern Culture and Media. You can expect to see her in Lincoln, Nebraska on Thursday, March 7th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Sheldon Museum of Art’s Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium.

Blending the rhetorical space of hard sciences and the digital world, Chun’s lecture looks at the ways in which digital media creates its own culture. Chun suggests culture and cultivation follow similar processes, those processes by which we make something new from something old, by which we grow and create ecologies. These same scientific processes can be applied to our usage of social media, forcing us users, to create our own cultural organisms and species. Chun will focus her attention on how social media, and the acculturation process, draws forth issues regarding eugenics and racial segregation online, and issues a call for new, inclusive network structures yet to be developed.

Beyond the work that you will hear on March 7, Chun has published an expansive body of work, including three books, Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (2006), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (2011), Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (2016), and co-author of the forthcoming title Pattern Discrimination. Chun uses her background in Systems Design Engineering and English Literature to advance her interests in new media, critical race studies and theory to attempt a desegregation of digital spaces. Chun uses critical data studies to better understand “how identity persists in the era of data driven algorithms. How categories such as gender, sexuality, race, and class persist and mutate in and through algorithms that are allegedly blind to them and are deliberately designed to blind us to them" (Chun, 2018).

While Chun’s books are available in print, her study of social media and digital culture makes her easy to find online. If unavailable to attend her talk in Lincoln, the authors recommend watching lectures Chun has given at various national conferences on YouTube. Click here for one of her enlightening and engaging lectures from the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institute’s 2018 Annual Meeting, “Humanities Informatics,” given at the University of Virginia.

We hope to see you in the audience.

Warmest regards,

C & G

References

Chun, W. (2018). Critical Data Studies, or How to De-segregate Networks.

Keplinger, Gina. "Over Omaha." 2017. JPEG File.

#humanitiesontheedge #posttruth