KU News Release


Sept. 10, 2010
Contact: Rebecca Smith, KU Libraries, (785) 864-1761

KU to launch new Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities

LAWRENCE — This fall, the University of Kansas will launch a new Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities to address a growing need on campus for digital services and expertise in humanities research.

The institute, created through a partnership of KU Libraries, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will support and enhance humanities research at KU. Its mission will be to promote the use of computing technology to advance humanistic scholarship across disciplines, publish and disseminate scholarly research through new Web-based models and study the impact of technology on society and on the scholarly record.

Arienne Dwyer, associate professor of linguistic anthropology, and Brian Rosenblum, associate librarian for KU Libraries, will serve as the institute’s co-directors. Dwyer and Rosenblum will work with campus partners to build cyberinfrastructure on campus, encourage digital collaborations and computationally assisted practices in the humanities, develop educational opportunities and facilitate the digital realization of scholarship. In the coming year, the institute will provide seed grants for startup projects and hold a major event for digital education in spring 2011.

Establishing the institute was the core recommendation made by the task force on digital initiatives in the humanities, formed in fall 2008 by KU Libraries Dean Lorraine Haricombe, Hall Center Director Victor Bailey and Joseph Steinmetz, then-dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The task force was led by Allan Hanson, professor of anthropology, and Deborah Ludwig, assistant dean for KU Libraries.

“The institute is intended to promote collaboration in humanistic research, using electronic tools and techniques to analyze and present scholarship in novel ways,” said Dwyer. “These range from the 3D visualizations of archaeological sites, to the creation of multimedia archives for historical and linguistic work, to the online mapping of demographics, dialects and trends. The institute will both tap into existing KU faculty expertise on campus and offer guidance and training for faculty who wish to pursue such research and related funding.”

Rosenblum said many communities and disciplines on campus have an interest in digital or computational approaches to the creation and distribution of humanities scholarship.

“The collaborative nature of this institute with the Hall Center, the College and KU Libraries will help support the interdisciplinary aspects of such research,” said Rosenblum. “Through the institute, we will provide guidance and support for startup digital humanities projects that require the expertise, tools and resources of KU Libraries’ Center for Digital Scholarship and other partners.”

Rosenblum is scholarly digital initiatives librarian at KU Libraries, where he has administrative, production and outreach responsibilities in support of digital initiatives and publishing services. He is a Keeler Family Intra-University Professor at the Spencer Museum of Art this semester. Before joining KU Libraries in 2005, Rosenblum worked at the Scholarly Publishing Office at the University Library, University of Michigan, where he helped develop numerous electronic journals and digital scholarly projects.

Dwyer is an associate professor of linguistic anthropology and a 2009 Higuchi Research Award winner. She has been continuously involved in collaborative digital humanities research since 1995 and specializes in the creation of multimedia linguistic resources, particularly for the languages of China and central Asia. In the last decade, she has also been involved in cyberinfrastructure development in Europe and the United States.

Funding and resources for the institute will initially come from the three sponsoring partners in the form of release time for the co-directors, administrative support, sponsorship of seminars and speakers, seed grants for promising research projects and funding to support technology-infrastructure. As the institute becomes established, it will increasingly seek its funding from external granting sources. The institute will base its operations in the KU Libraries’ Center for Digital Scholarship on the fourth floor of Watson Library.

Similar humanities centers focused on research computing initiatives and outcomes include those at Virginia, the Stanford Humanities Lab, Illinois and Nebraska.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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