Changing the Center of Gravity: Transforming Classical Studies Through Cyberinfrastructure

Grants and Contracts Details


We request NSF funds to support a two-day workshop to be held at the University of Kentucky on September 20-21 2007. The purpose of the workshop is to understand how cyberinfrastructure and associated tools have begun to transform and reshape classical studies and to develop a vision of how to encourage, embrace and enable the positive aspects of this transformation. Forty years have passed since David Packard developed a computer-generated index to Livy in the basement of the Harvard Science Center, and there are currently tenured professors in the field who have never used a typewriter and for whom the printed reference materials have always been supplements to wide-ranging searches of the primary digitized sources themselves. But while much has happened, the first generation of development has been retrospective, applying new media to existing needs. The center of gravity has remained firmly in the print world, with publications in HTML and PDF mimicking their print predecessors, with digital texts, available only in single editions and without the textual notes, as elaborate indices to their print originals, and with data about material culture fragmented into hundreds of incommensurate databases and linked only by expository prose, written by and for human readers. A commission funded by the ACLS and the Mellon Foundation has called for the development of cyberinfrastructure to support the humanities and social sciences ("Our Cultural Commonwealth: The final report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities & Social Sciences" ). Their published report follows a similar report, published in 2004, by a National Science Foundation commission ("NSF's Cyberinfrastructure Vision for 21 sl Century Discovery" . Other neologisms and phrases have emerged to capture aspects of changes that many can sense but no one has yet fully articulated: the Grid, e-Science, computational Humanities, and virtual research environments. We may not be able to predict, but we must nevertheless prepare for, the future. We must imagine what we want to be able to do in ten years and begin today to work with intentionality toward that goal. The influence of cyberinfrastructure and technology in Classical studies is strongly interdisciplinary, and this workshop will bring together researchers and scholars from a number of disciplines with interest in a mutually beneficial dialog. The central starting point of the workshop will be the collaborative and seminal work of Professor Ross Scaife, who has forged and pioneered an expansive vision of how to transform Classical Studies via emerging cyberinfrastructure. Professor Scaife has partnered with a large cast of internationally known scholars in diverse fields, all of whom have an interest in the broad vision for how computational tools and underlying technical infrastructure can shape the future of research and scholarship in the Classics. We expect as a specific outcome of the meeting to formulate a common understanding of the trends, the significant advances, and the trajectory of Classical studies as it relates to cyberinfrastructure and new tools. As a more general outcome, this meeting will contribute to a community-wide discussion about the confluence of technology and Classical studies to imagine what is possible, what is necessary, and how to encourage and fuel a positive transformation to shape the future of Classical studies.
Effective start/end date8/1/071/31/09


  • National Science Foundation: $29,356.00


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