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Page history last edited by Alan Liu 10 months, 3 weeks ago




Nothing Transcendental

Alan Liu's Ad Hoc Site for Ordinary Business

Nothing transcendental occurs on this site. No conversion experiences, no life-changing thoughts, no expressions of deep feeling. All that happens on this site is ordinary and workaday. Here, the ordinary and routine business of professional life finds shelter from the pressure to be any more than it simply is.

Ordinary tag cloud        Ordinary visual thesaurus

Some Show-and-Tell Materials for a M.A. Exam on "General Theory" Reading List in the UCSB English Dept. (2021)


Plato, Book X of The Republic:

Now do you suppose that if a person were able to make the original as well as the image, he would seriously devote himself to the image-making branch? Would he allow imitation to be the ruling principle of his life, as if he had nothing higher in him?" 


Aristotle, The Poetics:

Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated.…


William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads:

The principal object, then, which I proposed to myself in these poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible, in a selection of language really used by men; and at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of the imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly, as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement.


Google Ngram Viewer:

"Sublime" in Google Ngram Viewer


Principle I: The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary.... No one disputes the principle of the arbitrary nature of the sign, but it is often easier to discover the truth than to assign to it its proper place. Principle I dominates all the linguistics of language; its consequences are numberless. It is true that not all of them are equally obvious at first glance; only after many detours does one discover them, and with them the primordial importance of the principle."



First follow Nature, and your Judgment frame

By her just Standard, which is still the same:

Unerring Nature, still divinely bright,

One clear, unchang'd and Universal Light,

Life, Force, and Beauty, must to all impart,

At once the Source, and End, and Test of Art





UCSB English Department Job Candidate presentation locations

(and guest wifi access) 


South Hall 2635 (location for job talks)





UCSB English Dept., South Hall 2635 (front of room with speaker podium)

Front of room with speaker podium (with guest speaker Emma de Vries, Leiden University, October 9, 2015).

Note: the podium has HDMI and VGA for connecting a laptop to the projector. It also has an in-place computer that can be used instead.


UCSB English Dept., South Hall 2635 (from the rear)

View from the rear.
Note: for lectures, tables are removed and chairs are lined up in rows facing the front.


"CRC" Collaborative Research Center (location for coffee hour)


CRC seminar table area with TV screen

CRC Seminar table area with TV Screen.

Note: we'll have more chairs around the table for the coffee hour. The TV has cables for VGA (maximum resolution 1600 x 900) and HDMI (max. resolution 2560 x 1440)


CRC - larger view of the open-plan room

CRC - larger view of the open-plan room.

Guest Wifi Access


UCSB has Eduroam wifi access. In addition, the campus has a "guest login" capability for guests who do not have Eduroam (or, as sometimes happens, cannot easily connect through Eduroam for one reason or another). Guests can access the service as follows:

  • Among the possible Wi-FI services, choose "UCSB Wireless Web" (that is, not UCSB Secure or Eduroam).
  • Click on "Guest Registration" at the bottom of the screen. (See screenshot)
    UCSB Guest Wifi Access
  • After registering with a name, phone number, and email address, a guest will receive a username and password that is good for one week. (See screenshot).
    UCSB Guest Wifi Access

UCSB English Department "Cross-center Strategy Initiative" (CcSI) (2018)


  • Kick-off meeting, Oct. 22, 2018, 2:30-4:00, in the Transcriptions Center (SH 2509) -- Agenda

Presentations at SynchDH (May 8, 2015)


(1) English 197, "Hacking Literary Interpretation"

      (co-presenters: Alan Liu and Alec Killoran)


  • Course concept
  • Syllabus
  • Collaborative class project (in progress)
    • Project Development Page
    • Corpora:
      • 19th-Century British fiction (courtesy of Stanford Literary Lab) -- focusing on decade of 1880's
      • ~150 works of  children's fiction (from Project Gutenberg) -- focusing on decade of 1880's



(2) 4Humanities.org "WhatEvery1Says" Project

(co-presenters: Alan Liu and Jeremy Douglass)



  • Major interim discoveries of project:
    • What we are really after
    • Need for data provenance management for digital humanities
      • "Manifest" tracking system (meeting notes) in JSON-like YAML language
      1. "Collecting" manifests -- to track harvesting and scraping work.  Collecting manifests can refer by manifestIDs to package manifests (e.g., for the NY Times collecting scripts/tools module).  Collecting manifests produce output organized variously in path locations. (Draft example: collecting manifest (draft 2015-04-19).docx -- Alan's latest revision of the collecting manifest for the NYT from the April 1st rehearsal, with comments and queries.)
      2. "Corpus" manifests -- to track the corpora we create from the outputs of collecting harvests.  Corpus manifests have sections (e.g., years of materials) and states (e.g., raw text, preprocessed text), each of which will have a reference number.  Sections and states refer back by manifestID to the collecting harvest that produced them.  (No draft example yet.)
      3. "Processing" manifests -- to track various processes, including cleaning work, topic model runs, visualizations, etc.  Processing manifests refer by manifestID to corpus manifests (and reference numbers for their sections and states) as input material.  For example, a topic model manifest could take as its source material corpus 32, sections 4,5,7,8, state raw-text.  Processing manifests can also refer to package manifests as needed. (Draft example: processing manifest (draft 2015-04-19).docx -- Alan's revision and suggestions for Lindsay's processing manifest template, with Scott's generalizing revision incorporated.  This revision is a rough draft.)
      4. "Package" manifests -- modules of sequenced tools/scripts with options (and instructions as necessary). Package manifests are called into collecting and processing manifests by ID number as needed. (Draft example: package manifest (draft 2015-04-19).docx  -- Alan's mockup of a package manifest for the sequence of scripts and tools we use to scrape the NYT; includes fields for instructions.)




2014-15 Initial Meeting of "4Humanities@UCSB" Research Focus Group


4Humanities@UCSB will hold its initial meeting of the 2014-15 academic year on Monday, November 3, 3-4:30 pm, in South Hall 2509.   Continuing and new participants are invited.  A surprise, high-visibility new 4Humanities project will be announced at this meeting.


Now in its fourth year, 4Humanities@UCSB is the UCSB chapter of the international initiative (founded at UCSB) named "4Humanities: Advocating for the Humanities" (http://4humanities.org/).  The international initiative includes scholars, students, and others working on advocacy for the humanities.  The initiative is supported by the international digital humanities community on the premise that digital new media today have a special role to play in effective humanities advocacy.


As an IHC Research Focus Group on our campus, 4Humanities@UCSB meets during the year around a few topics and readings.  Beyond being a discussion forum, however, 4Humanities@UCSB is also a production shop. Ongoing concrete projects underway based at UCSB include the WhatEvery1Says project to analyze public discourse about the humanities using data-mining methods.  4Humanities@UCSB also holds some joint meetings and workshops with other Southern California chapters of 4Humanities at California State U., Northridge (4Hum@CSUN) and at UCLA (4Hum#UCLA).


Contact Info: 4Humanities@UCSB faculty leaders: Alan Liu (ayliu@english.ucsb.edu) and Linda Adler-Kassner (adler-kassner@writing.ucsb.edu).  4Humanities Lead Research Assistant: Ashley Champagne (ashleychampagne@gmail.com).


Agenda for Meeting



  • Research Focus Group co-conveners:
    Linda Adler-Kassner, Claudio Fogu, Alan Liu
  • Lead research assistant for 4Humanities & 4Hum@UCSB:
    Ashley Champagne
  • Self-introductions of meeting participants.


The 4Humanities.org Initiative (Overview & Updates)

  • Mission (humanities advocacy assisted by digital humanities community)
  • Organizational structure:
    • International initiative -- Coordinators: Christine Henseler (Union c.), Alan Liu, Geoffrey Rockwell (McMaster U.), Stéfan Sinclair (McGill U.), Melissa Terras (U. College London.
    • Local Chapters --  4Humanities@ Auburn | CSUN | McGill | NY6 | UCL | UCLA | UCSB
  • Ongoing and New Projects:
  • Upcoming Meetings/Events:
    • Project workshop/planning meetings
    • Winter discussion meeting on "Humanities and Sciences in the Public Gaze"?
    • End-of-year topic-modeling workshop or THATcamp-style event with other 4Humanities local chapters; synchronized with Transcriptions Research Slam (SoCal edition)




The Making of the Humanities Conferences and "Making of the Humanities IV"


By Floris Solleveld


The history of the humanities considered as a whole is still a young discipline. While there are well over a hundred institutes and graduate schools in the history of science, or the history and philosophy of science, for example, there is nothing comparable for the humanities. Equally rare are compound histories of the "sciences and humanities." In the case of the humanities, the typical pattern has been for the history of each discipline to be written separately by practitioners in that discipline – e.g., the history of linguistics by linguists, the history of philology by philologists, and the history of historiography by historians. As a consequence, the strong interrelations that have existed historically between different branches of the humanities (and between the humanities and the sciences) have been hidden from view, along with the fact that earlier in history these disciplines did not exist as such.


Recently this situation has begun to change. Partly this is due to the rise of digital humanities scholarship, which operates throughout these different disciplines and is now also being applied to their history; partly it is due to a shift from focusing on the history of disciplines, key figures, and core ideas to focusing instead on scholarly practices, information networks and epistemic virtues. But a key factor is one particular series of international events: the "Making of the Humanities" conferences.


Started in 2008, these biannual conferences have drawn an audience of historians, philologists, philosophers, and other scholars active in the history of the humanities primarily from all over Europe. They have now resulted in an ongoing series of published essay collections: Volume I (2010) on the early modern humanities; Volume II (2012) on the transition in the humanities from early modern scholarship to modern disciplines around 1800; and Volume III (forthcoming 2015) on the further institutionalization and professionalization of the humanities after 1850.


The "Making of the Humanities" conferences are also the impetus behind the recent monograph Rens Bod, one of the event organizers and a professor of computational and digital humanities at the University of Amsterdam: A New History of the Humanities (English translation 2013, Oxford UP). (Bod was recently the featured participant in a 4Humanities forum on "Global Humanities.") Though not technically speaking the first history of the human sciences at large -- that is George Gusdorf's today largely unknown 13-volume Les Sciences Humaines et la Pensée Occidentale (1966-88) -- Bod's book is the first to present the history of the humanities in a global perspective. Challenging the traditional self-perception of the humanities as broadly characterized by an "hermeneutic" approach, Bod presents an analysis of the heuristic principles applied, and patterns identified in, the different fields of the humanities throughout their history.


Unlike the previous "Making of the Humanities" conferences, the fourth in the series, "Making of the Humanities IV" (or MotH IV) is not devoted to a specific period. Instead, it will focus on the theme of "Connecting Disciplines" to provide a forum for comparing methods and patterns across disciplines. MotH IV will take place at the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome, 16-18 October 2014; the call for papers (abstracts and panel proposals) expires 1 June.


[Floris Solleveld a Ph.D. student in the history of the humanities at Amsterdam and Nijmegen.].




Presentation materials for working lunch with Ray Siemens, Feb. 8, 2008 (event details):

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