2019-09-04, 4 – 6 p.m., Patton Hall (RLP), 1.302D 305 23RD ST E, Austin, Texas 78712

Abstract: What have been the main approaches to the study of infrastructure that now combine to make the topic of such compelling socio-political, technological, media-informatic, cultural, historical, and artistic interest across the disciplines? In this talk, Alan Liu provides an introduction to “critical infrastructure studies,” focusing on why multi-disciplinary perspectives—sometimes tensely divergent in their premises even when converging to make, for example, a “bridge” or a “barrier”—are needed to imagine good infrastructure as the foundation for “good systems.” In the case of the University of Texas “Bridging Barriers” Grand Challenges initiative, for example, how many different ways are there to understand what a bridge or a barrier is good for (and for whom)?

Bio: Alan Liu is a Distinguished Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has worked in the areas of digital humanities, humanities advocacy, Romantic literature, and literary and cultural theory. His most recent book is Friending the Past: The Sense of History in the Digital Age (U. Chicago Press, 2018) He is the principal investigator of the “WhatEvery1Says” digital humanities project, a Mellon Foundation-funded initiative using machine learning to study public discourse about the humanities at big-data scales.