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Digital Culture Examined

"Personal computers, digital databases, the World Wide Web, and a host of other digital tools and technologies are transforming how scholars research, teach, and publish," says Mark Williams, associate professor and chair of film and television studies. "Digital culture is constantly changing, and those changes have global implications. It's crucial to study the impact that digital media have on our lives."

Williams decided it was time for a more academic approach to examine these phenomena and their relationship to higher education. He approached the Fannie and Alan Leslie Center for the Humanities and organized a Cyber-Disciplinarity Institute, which was held during spring term. The two-month institute, directed by Williams, explored many themes around the topic of cyber-culture and digital media.

Select Dartmouth faculty and several visiting scholars met twice weekly on campus to investigate these themes. In addition, two conferences featured the impact of cyber-culture and how it affects teaching and research initiatives. Some of the presenters looked at the broad social and political effects of digital media and cyber-influences.

Williams says the institute provided an opportunity to both widen and focus thinking about the many issues surrounding digital culture and how that culture touches a variety of academic disciplines.

"The institute was terrific, especially in its studied consideration of so many different approaches to issues surrounding the rise of digital culture," he says. "The institute was conceived from the start as experimental. It's a first attempt to address questions of digital culture from a decidedly interdisciplinary set of perspectives, so we had no pretense of covering all the areas that might be pertinent. But we collectively focused on centrally important areas that raise pressing questions for further consideration."

An archive of the public presentations made in conjunction with the institute can be found on the Leslie Humanities Center website. Williams adds that a published anthology of work presented at institute events is in the works.

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 5/30/08