“Digital Humanities: A New Approach to Scholarship”
The Department of English and Humanities at ULAB held a workshop on November 29, 2020 titled, “Digital Humanities: A New Approach to Scholarship” facilitated by three PhD candidates from the University of Maryland, USA. The facilitators were Sohana Nasrin, Bobbie Foster Bhusari and Md. Mahfuzul Haque.
The workshop began with an introductory speech by the Head of the Department of English and Humanities and Pro Vice-Chancellor, ULAB, Professor Shamsad Mortuza.
Then, in her presentation, Sohana Nasrin discussed how aspects of humanities and traditional topics are studied under the lens of digital humanities (DH). She also mentioned that through this integrated discipline, many communities are creating discourses and events online. She also shed light on the encounter between traditional humanities and computational methods through textual analysis, social network analysis, topic modeling, geo-spatial analysis, and data journalism. The importance of critical inquiry of modern digital objects or culture was elucidated.
The presenter then talked about new modes of knowledge formation enabled by digital tools and networked environments. In this connection, in a Venn diagram, she placed meme, Wikipedia, software studies, time and place, hacker culture, data journalism, new media, computational methods, etc. Furthermore, she described the timeline of digital humanities. After an overview of the contents, methods, tech, and collaborations in the field, she focused on the topic of humans and machines where surveillance, misinformation, conspiracy theories, consumerism and trolling were conferred. She then discussed the importance of adopting a critical lens in evaluating machine works.
Nowadays, librarians, data scientists, journalists, scholars and activists are using digital humanities to present their individual tasks and findings in a humanistic way. In response to the question of why we should use digital humanities, the facilitator mentioned certain impacts namely public impact, pedagogical impact, and interdisciplinary impact in our everyday lives and explained how those are encouraging more participations in DH. Lastly, she touched on the “how to” part of DH where she named curation, analysis, editing, and modeling as ways of using digital humanities.
The second facilitator, Bobbie Foster Bhusari, focused on the cultural heritage rhetoric in Internet memes. She began her presentation with a cultural approach to studying digital culture. She also mentioned that digital culture was a term used by many scholars although it was not fully defined. She discussed how we shape technology and technology shapes us and, in the process, technology is constantly changing us and our relationship with the environment. The decolonial approach to assessing works and labor in the tech industry was also deliberated upon. How industry and culture inform scholarship, how modernity is viewed in the process of DH, the significance of diverse understanding in the digital culture era were topics that were covered.
The role of memes was looked at from a unique point of view. A meme refers to remixed media that calls for participation, remediation, bricolage, and the process of knitting together. Memes also change meaning and purpose of a certain medium with a specific contextual background. They also serve political roles along with providing entertainment to its audience. Bhusari also spoke of how, in digital culture, we tend to perform different identities based on the need to be recognizable and to fit in. In this regard, selfies were also brought into the discussion. Selfies are no longer mere photos but different levels of communicative strategy as well as markers in forming identities namely masculinity and femininity. Bhusari said that it is safe for us to express ourselves online and thus, online identities can be used as tools for our benefits. However, both on and off-line experiences shape peoples’ overall identities. She then discussed new pathways for DH, outreach and activism as well as the ethical considerations in researching under digital humanities.
The third facilitator, Md. Mahfuzul Haque, elaborated on computer assisted text analysis. He focused on tweets, Facebook posts, and other conversations from social media as the source of data in text analysis. As the potential analytic angles, he named understating topics, analyzing public sentiment, identifying parts of speech, and examining geo-tags. He mentioned two programming languages, Python and R, to carry out this sort of research. For data collection and processing, he presented the example of the road safety movement and the tweets about it. The tweet collection was done through Twitter API, followed by data cleaning, processing, and analysis.
In topic modeling, he defined the term and mentioned two types of modeling, dictionary-based and unsupervised topic modeling. After briefing on each of the types, he moved on to the significance of human intervention in machine-processed results. According to him, at times, machine-generated topics might not make sense where the critical and analytical interpretations on the human end is necessary.
Finally, the facilitator talked about the research done on combating online misinformation in Bangladesh. He wrapped up his discussion by providing possible solutions to reduce the amount of misinformation and the unfortunate consequences because of it among Bangladeshi citizens.
After the highly interesting and informative discussions, a formal question/answer session was held where the audience eagerly expressed their curiosity about the subject matter.
The event ended with a vote of thanks by Dr. Mahmud Hasan Khan, Associate Professor of DEH, ULAB.
Watch the full program here:
“Getting Started with Getting Published”: Talk by Dr. Anne McLellan Howard
Dr. Anne McLellan Howard, a professor at the Miyazaki International College in Miyazaki, Japan, presented a session titled “Getting Started with Getting Published” as part of the Seminar Series organized by the Department of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) on December 22, 2020. Dr. Howard, who is also a member of the Japan-based voluntary teacher organization called Teachers Helping Teachers (THT), was introduced by Dr. Syeda Farzana Sultana, Assistant Professor at DEH.
Dr. Howard, a former Editor of the JALT Journal, began with discussing how to get started with publishing and gaining confidence as academic writers. Then she discussed the basic process of getting published – from selecting a journal, submitting a paper, and making revisions. She also discussed very important issues of self-plagiarism and how to avoid it, as well as what to do if the author disagrees with the reviewers or what to do if the reviewers do not agree with each other.
The presentation was attended by a large audience who participated in a lively and long question-answer session at the end. The audience members shared their concerns about not having enough support for publication in Bangladesh. They acknowledged that the session was extremely useful for them and extended their thanks to the presenter and to DEH for organizing the event.
The seminar was also attended by Ms. Juditha Ohlmacher, Member, ULAB Board of Trustees. Several teachers from DEH including ULAB Crossings Editor Dr. Shamsad Mortuza and Executive Editor Ms. Arifa Rahman participated in the lively discussion as well. Dr. Mortuza, Head of the Department of English and Humanities and Pro Vice-Chancellor, ULAB, offered his vote of thanks with which the session concluded.
“Learning to Write or Writing to Resist? Linguistic Resistance and Assertion of Self by a Primary School Student”: Talk by Dr. Obaidul Hamid
“Learning to write or writing to resist? Linguistic resistance and assertion of self by a primary school student” was the title of the sixth seminar of the DEH Fall 2020 Seminar Series held on January 10, 2021. The speaker of the seminar was Dr. Obaidul Hamid, a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland, Australia. Hosted by Dr. Syeda Farzana Sultana, Assistant Professor, DEH, the seminar was inaugurated by Professor Shaila Sultana, Advisor to the Center for Language Studies at ULAB.
In his talk, Dr. Hamid shared some of the findings of one of his research-in-progress on his own son’s writing. For this research, Dr. Hamid had instructed his son Afeef to write something, anything every day. Afeef continued this
writing for two years. Dr. Hamid showed how Afeef reacted against this imposition and acted to resist. That meant Afeef may have complied with his father’s imposition, but he resisted by transgressing or crossing linguistic borders. He also used plenty of language play. Dr. Hamid showed some examples from Afeef’s writing corpus, and explained the nature of his resistance. He discussed that there might be some ethical concerns on whether a child should be imposed with the duty of writing or not, but he thinks that his experiment brought good results for Afeef as he became metalinguistically conscious and explored the horizons of language. Dr. Hamid also informed that he is applying his findings on another experiment he is doing with some children from Rangpur, where he is getting positive results.
The audience, attending from around the world, was very intrigued by his talk and a very enthusiastic question-answer session ensued. The seminar ended with concluding remarks and a vote of thanks by Professor Shamsad Mortuza, Head of the Department and Pro Vice-Chancellor, ULAB.
Watch the full program here:
“Nationalism to Cosmopolitanism: Rabindranath Tagore’s Journey as an Educator”:
Talk by Dr. M A Quayum
Dr. Mohammad A. Quayum, an Honorary Professor at Flinders University and an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia, presented a session titled ‘Nationalism to Cosmopolitanism: Rabindranath Tagore’s Journey as an Educator’ as part of the Fall 2020 Seminar Series organized by the Department of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) on 2 January 2021. The webinar began with an introductory speech by the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, Professor Kaiser Haq. Then Dr. Mohammad A. Quayum started off his talk by presenting a brief overview of his presentation, which showcased Rabindranath Tagore’s shift from nationalism to cosmopolitanism.
Prof. Quayum discussed various aspects that influenced and shaped Tagore’s perspective of the educational system. He then proceeded to chronologically map Tagore’s venture into the educational enterprise citing quotes from the memoir “On the Edges of Time.” According to Dr. Quayum, Tagore developed a distain towards colonial education and the various impracticalities that resulted from such repressive institutions, labeling them, tyrannical, unemotional, uninspired and unimaginative. The presentation then moved into Tagore’s aversion to religious orthodoxy as evidenced in his short story “Khata.” Following that, Dr. Quayum discussed how Tagore started and ran his own school with principles that stood in stark contrast to colonial schools. Though Tagore’s educational philosophy is idealistic and mainly concerned with the spiritual development of the students who wouldn’t seek knowledge for material gain, Professor Quayum opined that, himself a practical man, Tagore did not decline the practical use of the knowledge. Throughout the seminar, Professor Quayum explained how and why the contemporary market-driven educational philosophy should borrow from Tagore’s educational philosophy in order to overcome the socio-cultural crisis. Dr. Quayum ended his talk by discussing Tagore’s intent to unify the east and the west through peace, acceptance, and harmony.
The Question and Answer session bookended Dr. Quayum’s insightful talk where various compelling inquires were made and addressed the legendary icon. The webinar, attended by academics and students from several universities, ended with concluding remarks and a vote of thanks by Dr. Shamsad Mortuza, Head of the Department of English and Humanities and Pro Vice-Chancellor, ULAB.
Watch the full program here:
The Office of the Registrar is pleased to announce the nominated student for the Named Scholarship Fall 2020.
The Office of the Registrar is pleased to announce the winners of the Vice Chancellor’s and Dean’s Honors List Scholarships, Summer 2020.
All the regular activities including Online Classes of ULAB will remain suspended on Friday, December 25, 2020 on account of Christmas Day.
However, the essential services like security and maintenance will remain in-place.
Lt Col Md. Foyzul Islam (Retd)