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Caroline Bassett and Sharon Webb on Full Stack Feminism and the Digital Humanities

From using computers to process the work of Thomas Aquinas to using facial recognition to compare portraits of Shakespeare, computational techniques have long been applied to humanities research. These projects are now called the digital humanities, and today we’re interviewing two major figures in this discipline. We talk to Dr Sharon Webb, Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex, History Department and a Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, and Caroline Bassett, Professor of Digital Humanities in the Faculty of English and the Director of Cambridge Digital Humanities at the University of Cambridge. They tell us about full stack feminism, hidden histories of women's involvement in computing, and what it means to bring feminism into the study of technology.


Sharon is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex, History Department and a Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab. Sharon is a historian of Irish associational culture and nationalism (eighteenth and nineteenth century) and a digital humanities practitioner, with a background in requirements/user analysis, digital preservation, digital archiving, text encoding, and data modelling. Sharon also has programming and coding experience and has contributed to the successful development of major national digital infrastructures. Sharon’s current research interests include community archives and digital preservation (with a special interest in LGBTQI+, feminist and BAME archives), social network analysis (method and theory), feminism and technology, among others. She is PI for the AHRC-IRC funded project, Full Stack Feminism in Digital Humanities and Co-I for 'Women in Focus' project, led by UEA.


Caroline Bassett is Professor of Digital Humanities in the Faculty of English and the Director of Cambridge Digital Humanities (CDH), an inter-disciplinary research programme. She explores computational technologies and cultural forms, critical theories of technology, and media arts. Her current interests include science fiction and technological futures, media archaeology and digital methods, automation and AI. Books she has written include the ‘Arc and the Machine’, on narrative and new media, Furious, a co-authored monograph on feminism, gender and digital worlds. She has recently completed ‘Anti-Computing’ a book exploring histories of resistance to computerized culture.


Reading List:


Bassett, Caroline, Sarah Kember, and Kate O'Riordan. Furious : Technological Feminism and Digital Futures. Digital Barricades. 2020.



Wajcman, Judy. TechnoFeminism. 2004.


Noble, Safiya Umoja. Algorithms of Oppression : How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. 2018.


Benjamin, Ruha. Race after Technology : Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. 2019.


Terras, Melissa M., Julianne. Nyhan, and Edward. Vanhoutte. Defining Digital Humanities : A Reader


Firestone, Shulamith, and Firestone, S. The Dialectic of Sex : The Case for Feminist Revolution. London: Women's Press, 1979.


TRANSCRIPT:


KERRY MCINERNEY: Hi! I’m Dr Kerry McInerney. Dr Eleanor Drage and I are the hosts of The Good Robot podcast. Join us as we ask the experts: what is good technology? Is it even possible? And how can feminism help us work towards it? If you want to learn more about today's topic, head over to our website, www.thegoodrobot.co.uk, where we've got a full transcript of the episode and a specially curated reading list by every guest. We love hearing from listeners, so feel free to tweet or email us, and we’d also so appreciate you leaving us a review on the podcast app. But until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the episode!


ELEANOR DRAGE:

From using computers to process the work of Thomas Aquinas to using facial recognition to compare portraits of Shakespeare, computational techniques have long been applied to humanities research. These projects are now called the digital humanities, and today we’re interviewing two major figures in this discipline. We talk to Dr Sharon Webb, Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex, History Department and a Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, and Caroline Bassett, Professor of Digital Humanities in the Faculty of English and the Director of Cambridge Digital Humanities at the University of Cambridge. They tell us about full stack feminism, hidden histories of women's involvement in computing, and what it means to bring feminism into the study of technology.


KERRY MCINERNEY:

Brilliant. So thank you so much for joining us here today. It's really lovely to be able to chat to you both. So just to kick us off, could you tell us a bit about who you are, what you do and what brings you to thinking about feminism and technology. So shall we start with Sharon? Yeah.


SHARON WEBB:

I'm Sharon Webb. I'm a Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex. I'm also a co-director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, and I’m the PI for a project called Full Stack Feminism in the Digital Humanities. So that's kind of my way into thinking about gender and technology and feminism and technology.

CAROLINE BASETT:

I'm Caroline Bassett. I'm a Professor of Digital Humanities at Cambridge, and I'm the Director of Cambridge Digital Humanities, which is a research centre, seeking to think about all things digital in relation to all things humanities. And I think we are also interested in thinking about how and why feminism matters to the digital humanities and also how feminism can act to change and expand the grounds upon which the digital digital studies work, basically. So that's me.


ELEANOR DRAGE:

Could you first answer our good robot questions? So what is good technology? Is it even possible? And how can feminism help us get there?


CAROLINE BASSETT:

I think the question is impossible to answer. I'm sure everybody that you've talked to said that I think good technology is the kind of technology that we could make if we were making technology on an equitable and just basis. Meanwhile, I think there's a lot of technology that we can use to push towards producing that kind of technology. So I'm not only interested in future technologies in a utopian world, I'm interested in the kinds of technologies that we can lay hold of and do things with.

ELEANOR DRAGE:

Thank you and Sharon.


SHARON WEBB:

Yeah, I mean, good technology, I think kind of similar to Caroline I would think that it's socially aware, and as much as it can be. And I suppose that is the kind of biggest thing that we face. When we think about, well, how can feminist ideas help us to produce, you know, or you have on your on your blog, or produce better, fairer, more equitable technologies, that's the biggest challenge is kind of thinking about how we embed feminism into the various cycles and, you know, software developer organisations. So it's kind of like us as academics, we're kind of speaking in a very specific domain, but it's getting that kind of word out there. That's the biggest challenge I think.


CAROLINE BASSETT:

I've always had trouble with the concept of political technology, as it was produced by Langdon Winner and was around the idea that some technologies are exceptionally political. It seems to me that all technologies are political, and therefore, all technologies need to be thought through in relation to the questions that intersectional feminism asks, and I think in a way, that's why feminism has something to say about the whole field or whole fields, to put it like that. It's intervention in science and technology studies is the place where that's most obvious where the field itself has been transformed by that insistence on thinking feministically- a word about these issues.


ELEANOR DRAGE:

That's really bad news for big tech, because I think tech would rather think that the technologies they were producing are completely neutral and not at all political. I mean, you know, if you're saying, okay, we're producing this thing, and it actually has a politics, then you're excluding particular markets, you're encouraging a polemicisation of your technologies. So that's a kind of secret I guess that's well hidden.


KERRY MCINERNEY:

Definitely. And I think it's something that really resonates with a lot of the work that Eleanor and I do you know, I love Caroline, what you said about thinking not just about these like utopian ideas and technological futures, even though that's something Oh no, and I'd love to think about as well, but thinking like kind of in the ordinary and ready and mundane sorts of moments, what kinds of technologies are being in us, and why do they matter? And how can we care for them through this kind of feminist ethic? And we think, of course, it's like such a long running concern of so much feminist thinking is about caring for these ordinary moments and these ordinary, you know, activities. And so on that note, I want to ask you both, again, just another super easy question, like the good robot questions, which is what do you think feminism can be doing? And contemporary tech sort of technology as it stands right now? And what do you think it shouldn't be doing?


SHARON WEBB:

Big question. Well, I mean, I can kind of I'm interested in thinking about like, what we're dealing with full stack feminism in the digital humanities, for example, and I should say that Caroline is part of that project as well. And it comes out of a network that Caroline was actually the PI for the Feminism, Technology & Digital Humanities network (IFTe) network. And in terms of kind of what we're trying to do in full stack feminism is really thinking about how you might embed intersectional feminists methodologies within digital humanities, but also kind of thinking more broadly from DH and other landscapes. And the biggest thing that we're coming across is that, you know, kind of thinking about what will be a feminist methodology, it's really difficult to kind of pin that down.

CAROLINE BASSETT:

I could sort of add to that, which is that, I might, one of the things that I'm interested in thinking about and one of the things that fullstack has been really important to think through is this question not only about what can feminism do in digital humanities, and in digital humanities, I'm including those questions about machine learning AI emerging technologies. So for us digital humanities involves AI centrally. But one of the questions I'm interested in thinking about is not what can feminism do, but where should it do it? And that actually, as part of what led us all of us actually to think about full stack, or to think about stacks? And that's partly because it seems to me that a lot of the time, we're invited to bring feminism into technology studies and technology milieux and technological milieux, at what is thought to be the right place, which I think is often the wrong place. So we're told yes, think about inclusion in terms of jobs, think about representation. But can you just politely stick to those areas, which are really important areas? And what full stack was about was saying, where should feminism be, it should be all the way down into the infrastructure, and all the way up through circulation, and all the way into those questions that are not thought to be polite for feminism to think about. So full stack feminism is a kind of depth model for thinking intervention in technology, technological mileux. And I think it's saying, where should feminism be? And the answer is everywhere. Yeah, all the way up all the way down, like turtles.

SHARON WEBB:

Yeah, yeah. And I think that's really important, because like, you're right, it's like, kind of sometimes feminist talk gets stuck to ‘Well, this is EDI work that's going on over here. And as long as we have a diverse team, then that's okay’. But actually, it's, it's the embeddedness and the entanglement of bias and oppression that we know that's embedded in code. It's that it manifests so many different layers, and so many different stacks, and the kind of infrastructure, that really kind of delving deep and trying to tackle and, you know, you know, with the stacks that we that we've kind of developed for full stack feminism we think about data and archives are the kind of foundation layer. And that's also, you know, related to the datasets that we might, you know, use for machine learning, or for, you know, some AI training models, to also think about what has been digitised. And that is a big question in terms of digital humanities, as well. So Roopika Risam talks about the way in which kind of DH projects have traditionally, you know, kind of just replicate the canon of what old white cis men, So thinking about kind of that, that stack, that layer of the kind of data, the foundations of knowledge, and what we've digitised and then kind of the way in which digital archives either challenge that notion, or replicate it, and then as Caroline was saying, the other stacks that we're kind of interested in is kind of tools, code and infrastructure. And so for example, tools is like, well, how can we critique the tools we use, especially within digital humanities, what are the kinds of text analysis tools that we're using? How do they replicate certain ways of thinking? And, and kind of all the way through to kind of user experience? What use are we thinking about? So, you know, when we're designing things, you know, what user profiles are we using? How can we think about those things differently? And so it becomes a thing you know, as I was kind of saying that, you know, kind of like, I like this idea, what Caroline says, it's not what it does, but where it does it, it's really, really important. So we're really thinking about kind of like a broad range of people who, who might be able to kind of, like, embed these methodologies within their work. And that ranges from archivists to people are doing, you know, doing DH, software developers, and we're hoping through kind of like, critically engaging with a number of different communities that we can kind of make that intervention possible.

KERRY MCINERNEY:

Absolutely. And I think this whole perspective of going all the way down is something that so resonates with Eleanor and I. We do feminist work with industry. And one of the things we really emphasise from the beginning is, you know, this is not a headcount, we're not coming in to say you have X number of women, and you need to have Y number, because that work is super important. We're not denying that. But it's not necessarily the approach we want to take, because we think it's already being done, and what's not being done necessarily, is this kind of integration at every level, like you said, Caroline with the infrastructure, or Sharon with knowledge, around how gender, race and other axes of power are fundamentally underpinning and shaping that. And something we have mentioned quite a lot, though, and I think we do need to explain just because, personally, I have to admit, I hadn't actually heard of the field of the digital humanities till about two years ago, is this idea of the digital humanities. So what is it? And also, what isn't it? Can you explain for our lovely listeners, it also actually for me, because I've come into touch now so much with the digital humanities, but I don't have a specialism in that. And so it's very much a learning process.

CAROLINE BASSETT:

Well, I have realised I have a different answer to this question every time someone asks me. So I'll probably hand over to Sharon to start.


SHARON WEBB:

Yeah, I mean, I think so one of the biggest things that people do within the digital humanities is define digital humanities. So there's always as you'll see all these kinds of publications that are coming out, and they say, the digital demand is X, Y, and Z. And there's this amazing project that happens every year called digital humanities in a day, DH in a day, and I think it was Willard McCarty, I can't remember who it was, but a prominent individual in the field. And you know, people are asking him to define it. And he said, I try not to, which isn't very helpful here. But it kind of ranges and it comes from the kind of like origins of humanities computing, which thinks about the way in which we can use technologies within humanities research. So that's kind of thinking about maybe how you might use tax analysis for corpus analysis, or, you know, digitization, to help what kind of historical projects all the way through now you can look at how people are using natural language processing to kind of look at historical texts or, you know, literary texts. And there's a kind of way in which the digital humanities has tried to define itself in a binary way between what they define as hacking computing, or coding or programming versus yak, so talking about it. So kind of it is theory and practice based, and it is about how you use, you know, digital technologies. for humanities research, but I think it has come broader than that. And I think, you know, in terms of, you know, what, Caroline, and you know, so Caroline was the original director for the Sussex humanities lab. And we really think in the sciences Humanities Lab that, you know, we need to have a critical engagement with digital humanities with the technologies, not just we're just using it for kind of using sake, you know, it really is kind of critiquing and evaluating, and that is a big part. So it's not a very succinct answer. But it never is.


CAROLINE BASSETT:

I think the other thing, the other thing, I think, is that to have a critical approach to digital humanities does mean constantly asking yourself both, How can we think the field, and how can we think it beyond say, tokenistic inclusion? How can we let the field be transformed by people who have been excluded from it coming in? That's been particularly important in terms of work around critical race theory and indigenous writing as well. I think the other thing is that digital humanities itself, I think, has expanded and changed and become something which is at least as interested in thinking about the forms of the epistemic culture that we live in, and how we think about investigating it, and the two relate to each other. So there's a way in which we're asking, what kind of digital culture do we live in right now? And how can we find tools to investigate it, which can work at the necessary scales or can give us particular kinds of insights. And so there's both this question of exploring digital culture and using digital methods. And that really involves I think, the beginnings of fields coming together in ways perhaps they didn't before. So I think digital humanities is becoming a digital media studies, media theory, media arts, AI. And I don't think that makes it incoherent. On the contrary, it's mapping a transformation. And I think that's why it's important actually. So we talk about expanded DH or critical DH, which isn't to make a break from older forms of activity. We think they're very important. Archiving is really important. But it is to kind of think about this expanded field. So the other thing about that is that I've recently been, I don't know what Sharon thinks about this. I haven't asked her. But I've recently been involved in this discussion of whether the whole hacking yacking division. So digital humanities used to talk about making, that was hacking, and then talking, that was yakking. And there was a kind of assumption that talking or theory was less important than making or practice. And I think increasingly, I think we should set that division aside and think about technology in co-evolutionary terms. And to think about, therefore to think about theorising as critical and involved with materials, and to think about practice as intrinsically critical. So I think that that hack/yack division is one that we're beginning to kind of knock down and refuse as a binary that we simply don't need anymore. And some can lead us in that direction as well.

SHARON WEBB:

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I think I think you're completely right. And I think that's what projects like the IFTe network was looking at, and full stack feminism was really thinking about, well, you know, you kind of reduce something to well, it's not mere making, it is critiquing, as well as you do that. And that's the whole point of kind of full stack feminism, is to really, really think about the way in which you're making something that is part of a process. And I suppose creative practice, does that, you know, if you look at kind of creative practitioners, they talk about their, their process, not just as it's not just something in their methodology, but it really is the way in which they critique their field as well. They critique their own practice. And I think that is something that you're right, in terms of like breaking down that binary, it isn't hack versus yak. It's like theorising and making together and it has to go hand in hand, especially as a feminist intervention. You know, that is the kind of critical thing, when thinking about a feminist intervention is not just a feminist methodology, but thinks about inclusive language and metadata, you know, you have to do it along the stack. But in thinking about like, the way in which those two things develop at the same time.


CAROLINE BASSETT:

And it's also - you need to break down that division to think about emerging technologies and feminism and DH, because you really can't think AI in terms of hack/yak, where that division invites you to think about hacking as a tool, because to think about AI as a tool is immediately to set up a series of binaries and a series of forms of thinking, which suggests that the tool is neutral, and what is done with it is what is political. And I disagree with that, you know, profoundly I think tools are made as socio-technical assemblages, and are used in, in the social world and in relation to systems so that breaking that hack/yack division seems to me incredibly important in relation to how DH is beginning to map actually not just beginning, his mapping on to whatever it is we call AI these days, machine learning, but also forms, the forms have questions about life that AI produces.


ELEANOR DRAGE:

Hmm. So that was very helpful. Can you now give us some examples then of how DH is intervening in AI, either by hacking or yaking? Or both?

CAROLINE BASSETT:

One of the projects that I've been interested in and engaged in for a while, is thinking about AI, writing and trying to think about the automation of writing through machine learning technologies. And I've been addressing that through a project which has worked to produce and to train GPT2/3 agents and to investigate and explore through making different forms of for integer or fiction, and I think that's a DH project, because it involves a certain amount of technical knowledge. It involves the bringing together of a collaborative team, including a computer scientist, a technologist and RAC, people from the humanities to develop these forms of writing. But the other reason I think it's an interesting digital humanities project is that it both had a question about literature, and the story and questions about authorship and the automation of authorship. And it had a question about what creativity is, you know, so to bring those two things together, to ask a question, which has an interdisciplinary reach, if you like, is a very DH kind of thing to do. Having said that, I'm sure many people would say, is that a digital humanities project? And my answer is, yes, it is, depending how you define digital humanities.


ELEANOR DRAGE:

I want to ask Sharon the same thing. But also just to say that that's one of the things that strikes you first from the outside is that DH people are really cool. And because they're, you know, collaborating in really interesting ways. They can think conceptually and across different kinds of disciplines. And the projects themselves seem transgressive in a certain way.


SHARON WEBB:

Yeah, I mean, so when we were talking about kind of defining DH and thinking about AI and DH. Well, I've been thinking about kind of over the last couple of weeks, so full stack founders, and we're doing a kind of a set of interviews where, you know, kind of, we've kind of defined six different communities that we want to engage in, and includes kind of people who are in, you know, digital arts practitioners, people who work on, you know, digital archives or community archives, and increasingly kind of like doing that work we've been thinking about, well, what would we conceptually think of as public DH. So like digital humanities projects, that, you know, would be defined as DH, But that aren't happening in academic institutions. So we've been kind of thinking about what is public digital humanities and who's engaged in that. And I think that really speaks to some of the stuff that we've been doing in IFTe and full stack feminism is about kind of bringing in different community voices within the space. But in thinking about AI, and then I'm going to say public DH. So there's, you know, like some brilliant artists, some digital artists who are working on this idea of kind of, you know, queering AI, or kind of, you know, introducing queer bodies into kind of AI models and AI systems. So, there's an artist, Jake Ellis, who's done this kind of queer drag performance using AI bodies. And, and he talks about the way in which the original data set that he used was really heteronormative. And what he did was he queer that dataset by introducing like 1000 Drag bodies into this data set to kind of create this, you know, amazing performance of drag AI, basically, it's a fantastic intervention. But for me it really speaks to the way in which kind of back kind of intervention into that kind of the underlying foundations, the data set really makes a difference. And it really highlights the way in which, you know, our digital art has a role to play in some of this stuff as well. And think about kind of queer digital humanities, public digital humanities, kind of really kind of speaks to me in terms of the way in which the field has changed, as well over the last decade, where there has been calls for feminist interventions and queer interventions, and, you know, kind of antiracist decolonial interventions as well. So I think, for me, kind of speaking to public digital humanities is also a really important space when we think about kind of how we embed feminism, for example, you know, because it speaks to a wider audience and it and it really does get to that point of like, Well, are we being inclusive? Or are we being exclusive? Does this work only happen in an institution? And the answer is, no, it doesn't, it happens outside of it as well. And we need to recognise that.

CAROLINE BASSETT:

One of the things I've been thinking through in trying to think about what DH should map if you like, or maybe which students we should admit for our MPhil, or those kinds of questions, because field definition questions come back, even though you're trying to avoid them. So one of the things I've been thinking about is the whether or not or the distinction between, say, the work of data science around algorithmic discrimination on one side, and then the work around archives and justice on the other. And I think so if you put through Ruha Benjamin's work around algorithmic injustice or Safiya Noble on the one side, and then you thought about some of the work being done around archival questions, then it's very interesting because on the one hand data science explores questions of representation, circulation, capture, if you like, archives, translate archival thinking, translate some of those questions to think about archival practices in relation to maybe historical and longer term questions. So there's a very interesting connection that I'm not teasing out very well here between questions of algorithmic injustice as they relate to contemporary networks, which is a kind of Media Studies, Digital Media Studies question and focuses in a sense on representation and circulation. And then an archival question that is a digital humanities question that looks at those same issues. But if you like slightly further down the stack, it asks, What is gathered up? What is kept? What is ingested? How would it be possible to refuse or think through the politics of refusal or acceptance at a more structural level? So I think DH kind of picks up some of those questions which we can see being asked around circulation and representation and tries to think them through at infrastructural levels where, of course, questions of AI are just as much there as they are further up the stack as well.

SHARON WEBB:

So myself and a colleague, Cecile Chevallier have developed an MA module called Technofeminism history and practice. And so techno feminism comes from the term Judy Wajcman coined in I think, as in the early 90s. So think about kind of gender and technology and really comes from the feminist STS kind of domain. But it really interesting, so we only we've run it, it's in the last year was his first year that it rang tech, techno feminism module. And 75% of our students were data science students. And so it was really interesting to kind of weigh in which they engaged with the history of, you know, gender and technology with the history of, you know, kind of early computing. And we had one student who said to us, I never knew this history, I didn't know, you know, women's involvement in, you know, the ENIAC or, you know, the other machine. But, you know, the kind of women's interventions in World War Two, basically, in America and, and the UK. And for them, they kind of they said, every computer science student needs to know this, because it a lot of the students who are were in it as well, the techno fan, data science, but also women who were learning about kind of feminism in this field, and the way in which they could bring that to their data science, master's, and deploy those, those things. So, you know, we talked about a kind of feminist ethics of care, in terms of developing, you know, maybe a project using kind of specific data sets. And we talked about radical empathy. When you think about, you know, who you're representing, you know, your users, what are you trying to say, with the type of projects that you're developing, and thinking about the way in which they were approaching, you know, the datasets that they were using? And, you know, it was kind of, they were looking to us to say, Oh, what, what datasets are out there? And we're like, Well, you know, in the kind of DH realm, it's not always like, oh, there is the existing datasets that you can use for this, you know, they have to really look to get a data set that they could use to ask the questions around, well, what would a feminist kind of creative practice because their output was a creative practice a piece of coding, that might do some data visualisation with a piece of data, and they were really engaged in thinking about different types of data sets, which they weren't being asked in their data science module. That's not to say that they're not doing ethics and data science, but it was a really different kind of take on it. But yeah, does that make sense?


ELEANOR DRAGE:

No, it does. It does. Thank you. And that answers half the question I was going to ask you, both of you, which is what kinds of feminists ideas and concepts what different kinds of feminisms are making their way into DH and then maybe as we're nearing the end, Caroline, you can answer the other half which is how is DH shaping feminism if at all.

CAROLINE BASSETT:

So I'm not sure there's a single answer to the kinds of feminism that are moving into DH. I think there are many forms of feminism, but I suppose… Okay, I think digital humanities focuses in a way that's almost overdetermined on questions concerning technology. On the other hand, it's a humanities subject, or it's a humanities area, or it crosses from there. So although it's incurably informed, that's an Anne Balsamo term from one time ago, it's incurably informed about technology, it doesn't centre technology as a determining factor. So that it's not technologically determinist in a classic way, and that really matters, it also means that it always has to be careful to both attend to the technological all the way up, and all the way down the stack, and refuse that temptation to say that technology is causal. And I think that that links it to particular traditions of feminist thinking around technology, which are actually also over-interested in it, and therefore in that way, see in technology, something hopeful. So that's what relates us to (Donna) Haraway, to socialist techno feminism, to the idea that the technology might be the technology we have, might be phallogocentric, to use her term, but nonetheless, has this potential. So I think the kind of feminisms that inform DH tend to be feminisms that see a promise in technology. So there's a utopian tradition of some kinds or other which might include Haraway, which might find something in (Shulamith) Firestone, which would find something in Judy Wajcman, which has always been interested in the imagination and the imagination potential. So (Ursula) Le Guin, Okay, not a not a theorist of technology, but nonetheless a theorist of technology. So I think all of those, I think there's a way to say it’s technological feminism of particular kind that interests and has informed DH. But then I think that there's also a really clear and important kind of revolution in DH going on at the moment. And I think it comes out of intersectional feminism, and the impact of critical race theory and responses to it reshaping the questions around justice, equality, inclusion and knowledge in the field. So long answer sorry.

SHARON WEBB:

Yeah, I'm just I'm just kind of thinking about as well, like, you know, obviously, you know what we're talking about here, there is a tradition, or there is at least a kind of history in the last 10-15 years of, you know, people within the fields, thinking about kind of how, what a feminist intervention and digital humanities is. So people like for example, you know, so so there is individual has been kind of going, Look, we need to think more critically about DH, we need to think how we're, you know, you know, how we change the field with intersectional feminism, we're thinking more concretely about what a feminist approach might be. But also in thinking about that, you know, the stories we tell ourselves about digital humanities, they're kind of the historic foundations of it always comes back to Roberto Busa and you know, his amazing work around developing this corpus for Thomas Aquinas’s work, but people like Melissa Terras and Julianne Nyhan, what they've done is they've kind of revealed a history of DH that is more founded on women's labour than has traditionally been told. So you know, Roberto Busa is, you know, lauded as this, like one person who did all this amazing work, but actually, he had like maybe 60 or 70 women, who were, you know, developing these or, you know, making these punch cards in order for him to do the work that he did with IBM and the successes that he had. So the work that Melissa Terras and Julianne Nyhan have done to kind of rewrite the history of Digital Humanities I think is a massive intervention, which is not like technological, but it's like really thinking about the stories we tell ourselves about that discipline.

I think there's other traditions as well that have fed in so I think cyber feminism in its tanning bed, and I think it was important. I think people like Carolyn Steele who are kind of underlauded, who have had a massive impact on feminist publishing, and on bringing forward feminist theorising around technology are really important as well. And people like Helen Hester who've responded to various forms of accelerationism and their lacunae, which are many, are also really important. So I suppose it's interesting actually, you can either see it as a field history, where where the people Sharon has named are really important. But also you can see it as part of a much bigger tradition of thinking, thinking technology in relation to, to questions of gender to questions of race to questions of feminism, and that I think that field really intersects.

KERRY MCINERNEY:

Yeah, that's absolutely wonderful. And I feel like whenever we come away from these podcast episodes, there's like so many more questions than when we started, there's so many people you want to look up and books you want to read. And for our lovely listeners, we do curate a reading list. This episode is one that's probably going to be very long for each episode, so that if you want to learn more about these topics, you can do so by going to our website, which is thegoodrobot.co.uk. And we'll also have links to full stack feminism and links to the amazing work Caroline does with Cambridge digital humanities, so that you can learn more about this incredible field. But until then, we just want to say a huge thank you, Caroline and Sharon. It's always such a privilege to be in conversation with you and we hope to chat again soon. Thank you very much.

ELEANOR DRAGE:

This episode was made possible thanks to our previous funder, Christina Gaw, and our current funder Mercator Stiftung, a private and independent foundation promoting science, education and international understanding. It was written and produced by Dr Eleanor Drage and Dr Kerry Mackereth, and edited by Laura Samulionyte.


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