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Digital Humanities @ UH Initiative hosts first regional conference

Texas Digital Humanities Consortium Conference convenes at UH April 10 -12

The quintessential definition of digital humanities has yet to be decided.

This is an active field of inquiry, collaboration and experimentation centered on computer-assisted research, teaching and creation in the humanities disciplines.

Words that define what the field is now may be obsolete sooner than the cutting-edge computer technology shaping the field is.

“The computer can supply a lot of data quickly, however it can’t tell us what is valuable, interesting, or meaningful,” said Dr. Cameron Buckner, the CLASS postdoctoral fellow in digital humanities. “You can’t eliminate the human element when integrating digital humanities into research.”

Digital pushes into undefined humanistic spaces will be the focus of the first Texas Digital Humanities Consortium Conference, which will be held on the UH campus April 10 -12.

Hosted by the Digital Humanities @UH Initiative, the conference is the inaugural convening of the Texas consortium’s five members: the University of Houston, Rice University, Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Austin, and University of North Texas.

At UH, the DH@UH Initiative involves faculty from across the University in English, history, philosophy, computer science, law, modern and classical languages, and art.

The effort is being led by faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, including Dr. Buckner; Dr. Casey Dué Hackney, director of classical studies in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages; Dr. Natalie Houston, associate professor of English; and Dr. Rex Koontz, director of the School of Art.

Drs. Dué Hackney, Houston and Koontz are recipients of National Endowment for the Humanities digital humanities grants.

In addition to the nationally-recognized digital humanities research that CLASS faculty are conducting, Dr. Buckner says that UH has several distinctive advantages that allow the institution to become a leading figure in the digital humanities and, thus, make it the ideal location for this inaugural conference.

“Firstly, UH is undergoing dramatic growth, emerging as a tier-one research university during the advent of the digital revolution,” he said.

“Secondly, Houston hosts internationally important digital archives, especially on the topics of Latino and Latin American art and history,” he continued. “The opportunity to work directly with these types of digital archives will allow us to recruit top scholars and continue to push the state of the art in digital archiving and research.”

Dr. Erez Lieberman Aiden, assistant professor of genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and assistant professor of computer science and computational and applied mathematics at Rice University, will be the conference’s keynote speaker. Dr. Aiden is a pioneer in digital humanities, and his last three papers have all appeared on the cover of Nature and Science.

Other speakers at the conference will be Dr. Tanya Clement, assistant professor in the School of Information at the University of Texas-Austin, Dr. Geoffrey Martin Rockwell, professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, Canada, and Dr. Elijah Meeks, Digital Humanities Specialist at Stanford University. 

“We were fortunate that we got our first choice of guest speakers for this conference,” said Dr. Buckner. “The university has robustly supported the digital humanities initiative housed within CLASS, including the hosting of this conference.”

For more information about the digital humanities initiative, visit

- By Monica Byars