Sussex Humanities Lab
Spring term newsletter 2021

SHL welcomes everyone who would like to work with us in the field of digital humanities, so please do get in touch if you would like to know more about Digital Research or would like to become an associate. Contact:
.     Alice Eldridge            James Baker               Sharon Webb
New Leadership team for SHL
After over 5 years leading the Sussex Humanities Lab (SHL), first as Co-Director, latterly as sole Director, Prof Tim Hitchcock is stepping down at the end of February. Three new Directors will take on the leadership of SHL from March 2021: Dr Sharon Webb, Dr James Baker and Dr Alice Eldridge. 

SHL was established in 2015 by Profs Caroline Bassett, David Berry, Rachel Thomson, Sally Jane Norman, and Tim Hitchcock and in its short life has substantially developed research capacity at the University of Sussex: we have captured £2.6 million in grant income, published over 130 research outputs, and hosted an extensive programme of interdisciplinary events, workshops, conferences, and colloquia. But more importantly, we have built a community of expertise around technology’s role in shaping culture, society and environment and the use of technological tools to undertake research within the arts, humanities and social sciences. 
We have also outgrown our founding purposes and intellectual arrangements. Our work now ranges from AI to climate justice, ecoacoustics to automated writing, intersectional feminism to open infrastructures. As we transition to a new leadership team this spring, SHL will undertake a phase of re-examining its priorities, its ambitions, and the challenges it seeks to respond to.  
Prof. Hitchcock says:  It has been a profound privilege to have helped establish and later lead the SHL over the last five years - the highlight of a long career.  The team taking over leadership of the Lab is remarkable and hugely impressive, and I very much look forward to seeing the Lab grow and change under their auspices. 
The Sussex Humanities Lab is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Schools of Media, Arts and Humanities, Education and Social Work, Engineering and Informatics, and the Library with a network of associates extending across the university. To find out more about our work or to join us visit
Sharon, James, Alice  (Directors, SHL) 

SHL Environment Strategy

The Sussex Humanities Lab is delighted to welcome Dr Julian Gregory to the team as an Environmental Strategy Research Assistant. Julian was recently awarded a PhD in Science and Technology Policy at SPRU and is an expert in energy and energy systems. In this short term role Julian is conducting a detailed scoping review that explores the environmental activities and strategies of Digital Humanities research centres comparable to SHL. This work builds on the publication in 2020 of the SHL Environmental Strategy  and is intended to enable SHL to build our knowledge and identify practical next steps. The work is supervised by James Baker on behalf of the SHL Carbon Use and Environmental Impact Working Group. A report based on our findings will be published in the Spring.
Opportunities & Events 

Women in Red Wikipedia Editathon #IWD2021

Did you know that Wikipedia is the most visited site on the internet, yet only 18.7% of its 50m pages feature information about women? University of Sussex Library invites Sussex researchers to redress this gender imbalance by participating in a Wikipedia Editathon for International Women’s Day on 8th March 20211-5pm. The event will further the Women in Red project, whose aim is to reduce systemic bias in the wiki movement. The objective is to turn “red links” into blue ones. If the subject of the article self-identifies as a woman—binary and/or non-binary and/or other — that person is included within the scope of Women in Red. No previous wiki editing experience is necessary – training and support will be provided in this collective open knowledge justice endeavour! More information and registration here  .  

Add your suggestions for Wikipedia pages that need editing or creating here .    

Contact for further information

Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop 2021 CW21

Dr Anna Maria Sichani is an SSI fellow and is co-organizing with Dr Emily Bell (University of Leeds) a mini-workshop at Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop 2021 titled "(Do not) make it new: On Reusing Research Software and Tools in Digital Humanities Scholarship" . The session has been tentatively scheduled for CW21 Day 1: Tuesday, 30 March 2021 from 15:50 - 16:20 BST (14:50 - 15:20 UTC), you can view the full agenda here.


A year-long programme addressing the ‘auraldiverse turn’ in Arts and Humanities research and theory, questioning how and what we hear, what we listen to and why, as situated within our contemporary milieu: that of ecological, existential, social, economic and epidemiological crises. More information and tickets here.

From Home is a unique cultural project for the Brighton Digital Festival and beyond, examining what life at home is like for us at home in 2020 and 2021 – and we need your help. You can become part of the project by anonymously answering a few questions about your ideas of home here:
We’ll be using the questionnaire data for the project, together with creative material such as videos we’ve already collected from people all around the world, and a short film starring Samuel West produced on the empty stage of the Brighton Theatre Royal during lockdown.

How will my story be part of a bigger Story of Home?
Together with Lucy Nordberg and Marc Green from Moving Pictures Theatre, Tom Ottway from Language Umbrella Media is creating an ambitious piece of virtual reality immersive storytelling which weaves together the stories of home and brings to life not only the material from lockdown, but also narratives about people’s different experiences, hopes and dreams, of what home meant to them in the years leading up to lockdown. There are plans to turn the virtual artwork in to a piece of physical immersive storytelling that will tour the UK, and further afield.

How you can help make history
Home has become a daily headline, a buzz word; probably so overused by now that we may have forgotten what we once felt it meant to us. So we are now asking you to take part in the short survey that takes a snapshot of this extraordinary time. Your responses will inform our research, feature at the next Brighton Digital Festival and other important festivals, as well as forming part of Tom Ottway’s final PhD piece on home.

Tools of Knowledge

We are delighted to announce that the AHRC is funding a project to be based in the Whipple Museum at the University of Cambridge, which started on 1 Jan 2021: ‘Tools of Knowledge: Modelling the Creative Communities of the Scientific Instrument Trade, 1550-1914’.

The project is grounded in the ten thousand records on individual instrument makers and firms compiled by Dr Gloria Clifton and held by the National Maritime (the Scientific Instrument Makers, Observations and Notes database). A range of approaches, including machine learning, will be used to enrich and model this dataset, developing an intricate knowledge graph that relates the biographies and activities of the makers to instruments held in multiple museum collections, and to the material, spatial and conceptual context of their production, trade and use. Operating at a range of temporal and spatial scales, a series of case studies will apply innovative methods of digital analysis to reveal new insights into these creative communities, in dialogue with the development of new tools for exploration and enquiry, including the use of 3D data visualisation.
The project is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge, the University of Sussex and National Museums Scotland, with the Royal Museums Greenwich and the Science Museum, London. It is led by Prof Liba Taub (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge) as PI, with Co-Investigators Dr Alexander Butterworth (Sussex Humanities Lab), Dr Rebekah Higgitt (National Museums Scotland) and Dr Boris Jardine and Dr Joshua Nall (Cambridge).

Tuning in to the Songs of the Forest

Tuning in to the Songs of the Forest: What do soundscapes mean Tuning in to the Songs of the Forest: What do soundscapes mean to the Ancestral Kichwa Population of Kawsak Sacha and what does this mean for eco-cultural conservation imperatives? Alice Eldridge (PI, MAH) with Mika Peck (Life Sciences) and Patta Scott Villiers (IDS) - (IDCF funded pilot)

Mapping COVID-19

Mapping COVID-19 impacts on Papua New Guinea conservation and building a collaboration between ecology, arts, and the humanities to help preserve forests and indigenous land rights. Alan Stewart (PI, Life Sciences) with Co-Is: Alice Eldridge (MAH), Jo Middleton (BSMS), Jules Winchester (MAH), James Fairhead (Global), Richard Hazell (Life Sciences) - (IDCF funded pilot)

                     Digital Stories focusing on a child's perspective 

Prof Nicola Yuill (Children & Technology Lab, Psychology), with Sarah Parsons and Hanna Kovshoff (Education and Psychology, Southampton), have been granted funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to run a 12-month project developing the Digital Stories method created in Southampton. Each site manages an Autism Community Research Network--  @acornsussex and @acornsoton -- and the grant work will run with external partners from the ACoRNS, together with a technology company. A video explaining the approach is here:

There are four linked projects with health and education practitioners to find new ways of supporting and developing the Digital Stories method. The Sussex project is working with Time for Autism (BSMS) and with Just Right (B&H Inclusion Support Service).

Can governments unlock potential?

Jessica van Thiel, (PhD Student) contributed on (lead by McKinsey, Skoll Foundation, Ashoka, Schwab Foundation, and others), “New Allies: How governments can unlock the potential of social entrepreneurs for the common good” was presented at the Davos World Economic Forum and was well received! Jessica's  enterprise - PATHFINDER’s whitepaper was cited in the report and she is listed as a contributor and is also leading projects in this space with Catalyst 2030.  
Dr Beatrice Fazi's article Beyond Human: Deep Learning, Explainability and Representation has been published in the journal Theory, Culture & Society. The article focuses on computational procedures that are no longer constrained by human modes of representation and considers how these computational procedures could be philosophically understood in terms of ‘algorithmic thought’  
Why should we listen to birds?

Dr Alice Eldridge featured in the Guardian's Age of Extinction Podcast.  
Why Should we listen to birds? 
17 Dec 2020
Ecoacoustics and Multispecies 
Farina, A., Eldridge, A. & Li, P. Ecoacoustics and Multispecies Semiosis:
Naming, Semantics, Semiotic Characteristics, and Competencies. Biosemiotics (2021). 
                                             Digital Stalinism

Drawing on technology-art experience, Forensic Architecture groups' investigations and touching upon the ideas or accounts of individuals such as Hannah Arendt, Amelia Gentleman, David Graeber and Leon Trotsky, this short chapter by Dr Michael O'Connell considers whether the algorithmic landscape, apps and devices, rather than simply being associated with the surveillance, do not amount fundamentally to high-speed bureaucracy. The book is due to be published in April 2021 Read more here
Dr Michael Bull has co-edited 
The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies and it is the first book to deal with the interdisciplinary study of sound within the field of Sound Studies. It is also, possibly, the largest volume ever produced within the school with 844 large format  pages. There are 49 specially commissioned articles, three original 'intervention' chapters written by the editors as well as a general introduction. The book also contains a chapter co-written by lab co-director Alice Eldridge on multidisciplinary sonic methods in wilderness mapping.

Software, risks, and liabilities: ongoing and emergent issues in 3D bioprinting

The growing use of software in biomedicine has enlarged the capacities of researchers and clinicians. This, one might expect, would enhance the precision and safety of biomedicine. However, it has been recognized that software can bring about new risks to the field of medicine and medical devices, requiring at least some degree of caution from the different players responsible for technology governance and risk management. This phenomenon is focused on in this paper, from the viewpoint of 3D bioprinting. Read more here ...

Little Ramble

A short film created by Research Fellow Tim Hopkins responding to a string quartet by John Woolrich called Kleine Wanderung  (‘little ramble.’)
The piece combines studies shot in Paris in 2017 with paintings done this year in Camberwell, London.
Spring SHL Events Programme

SHL Digital Cafe
8 March 13:00 - 14:00

An informal lunchtime session for SHL members and associates to share research interests around a topic. 
If you're interested in how digital technology can interact imaginatively with museum objects, heritage buildings, archaeology, literature and archive documents as source material and use them as raw material for open-ended creative exploration then this one is for you! To join please click here  
SHL Seminar Series Spring 2021
8 March 17:00 - 18:00 
Reality is Radical: Queer, Avant-Garde, and Utopian Gaming
The Sussex Humanities Lab and the Sussex Centre for Sexual Dissidence are pleased to welcome leading critical game studies scholars Amanda Phillips and Bo Ruberg to explore the politics of contemporary games. Games themselves are a major cultural form, and the "ludic turn" in recent years has also seen game design thinking and critical play practices spill out into many areas of social and economic life. Meanwhile, a proliferation of tools and a vibrant indie design culture are democratizing game-making, and creating space for new ludic avant-gardes. What are the politics of contemporary gameplay and game-making? How might play and performativity offer pathways to radical futures? And what happens when the often rule-constituted realm of games collides with queer studies and queer activism, and with the desire to question so many of the dominant rules of reality?
Further details & registration
SHL Seminar Series Spring 2021
15 March 15:00 - 18:00
Coming to terms with data visualization and digital humanities

Professor Marian Dörk, University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
How can visualization research and design be inspired by concepts from cultural studies, sociology, and critical theory? In contrast to the epistemological hegemony that engineering and science has held over data visualization, humanistic engagements with data and interfaces suggest different kinds of concerns and commitments for the study and design of data visualizations. From collaborative research in the arts and humanities arises a need to support critical and creative engagements with data and visualization. Philosophical concepts such as the flâneur and the fold provide evocative thinking aids and conversation-starters that help overcome such long-standing dichotomies as the distinction between overview and detail, or the separation of interaction from visual encoding. Theoretical considerations are underpinned with practical reflections from recent research on visualizing cultural heritage data. This talk starts by questioning the holy trinity of users-data-tasks and ends with a plea for more visualization philosophies. 

Participants are encouraged to visit prototypes of some of the visualizations discussed, beforehand, and a list of papers is also provided for those who wish to prepare further. 
Further details & registration 

SHL Seminar Series Spring 2021 (coming soon)
March date tbc
Experimental digital scholarly publishing 

Further details & registration TBC

SHL Digital Methods Workshops Spring 2021 
24 March 15:00 - 17:00
Text Analysis with SketchEngine - Justyna Robinson
In this workshop we will identify and explore patterns of language variation in large databases of texts. The session will build on previous sessions on text analysis and assume that the text has been cleaned, tagged, and prepared for the linguistic analysis of content.
The corpus interface used in this session is Sketchengine which is available on-line. There also will be a demonstration of a prototype of the concept processor that is being built as a part of the Linguistics DNA project (co-developed at Sussex, School of English).
By the end of the workshop participants will be able to identify the most fruitful linguistic patterns to suit specific research questions and be able to interpret the findings in the context of the stances and social meanings the texts communicate.
Further details & registration 

SHL Digital Cafe
19 April 13:00 - 14:00

Topic TBC
An informal lunchtime session for SHL members and associates to share research interests around a topic. If you would like to join the session please email 

Digital Humanities, Where Do We Go From Here?
A conversation hosted by the University of Texas at Austin
19 April 19:00
With Thorsten Ries Austin University, Texas and Tim Hitchcock & James Baker from University of Sussex
Register here
SHL Seminar Series Spring 2021
26 April TBC
The Journal of Digital History: digital scholarship in a digital form 

A presentation by those involved in the editorial strategy for the new ‘Journal of Digital History’, a joint initiative of the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH) at the University of Luxembourg and the De Gruyter publishing group. The journal, peer-reviewed and open access, proposes an innovative form of data-driven scholarship and of transmedia storytelling in the historical sciences. The approach is multi-layered, with each article including a transmedia narrative presentation, a hermeneutic consideration of the methodological implications of using digital tools and data, and infrastructure to access the underlying data and code.
Further details & registration TBC

SHL Digital Methods Workshops Spring 2021 (coming soon)
28 April
Zotero (Ben Roberts SHL & Bethany Logan from library)

Further details & registration TBC

You can view updates to SHL events on our website events page here
Become an SHL Associate

Do you have an interest in digital humanities or would like to learn more?
We are an open and welcoming DH community and we invite Sussex faculty and PG students to apply to become an SHL associate.

To register your interest please click here to complete a short form.

Benefits of SHL Association:

  • Share interests around digital transformations, digital society, digital culture with a network of colleagues
  • Discover more about digital humanities methods and concerns and how they might impact or contribute to your own research
  • Once the lockdown ends, the opportunity to use the Sussex Humanities Lab space and technologies for your own research and events.

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Sussex Humanities Lab · Silverstone Building · University of Sussex · Falmer, BN1 9RG · United Kingdom

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