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‘Brightest & Best’ To Gather At U.Va. For Summit On Digital Tools For The Humanities Sept. 28-30, Which Looks At The Future Of Digital Scholarship

September 27, 2005 -- Within the past few years, humanities scholars have begun to design, develop and apply digital tools that are enhancing and enriching their scholarship and others. Both the tool-building and tool-using communities are growing.

Scholars use digital tools to research, analyze, manage and create new resources and collections and to collaborate with other scholars. The remarkable growth of online books, journals, archives and collections has made digital scholarship a vital part of today’s educational system. As students and teachers alike rely more and more on digital versions of history, art and literature, there will be a greater need for reliable, well-crafted and creative tools that make this information accessible.

To explore the future of digital tools in humanities scholarship, the University of Virginia, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the National Science Foundation are sponsoring a Summit on Digital Tools for the Humanities. The summit will be held Sept. 28-30 at the Darden School’s executive conference facilities and will be attended by 66 international scholars from humanities and computer science fields.

The summit was organized by a distinguished panel of scholars, including Bernard Frischer, director of  U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and Anita Jones, U.Va. computer science professor. “The summit will bring together leaders in the design, development and application of digital tools for digital scholarship,” Frischer said. “They will be charting a course for the future.”

The organizers are looking for creative new ways for information technology to be used in the humanities. “Information technology goes through two stages. First, we automate what we already know how to do. Then, we take a profound leap and learn how to generate new information,” Jones said. “A key question for this summit is whether or not this second stage is occurring in the humanities.”

During the three-day summit, the brightest and best minds in digital humanities scholarship will assess the state of development of digital tools for humanities research, as well as the effectiveness of the supporting and integrating cyber infrastructure. The summit’s structure will differ from most humanities conferences: participants will not be showing their work or giving papers, but will break out into small working groups on Thursday and Friday morning. These groups will discuss particular uses and types of digital tools and make practical recommendations for how to improve tool design, use or application. These recommendations will be presented to the entire summit in afternoon sessions and then will be compiled into a single report, to be published by the Summit Organizing Committee in October.

The participants were selected on a competitive basis from a large cross-section of humanities fields, including linguistics, history, literature, language, anthropology, archaeology, psychology and philosophy. They are traveling to Charlottesville from all over the United States, and from several foreign countries including England, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

 “This is a very exciting opportunity for U.Va. and showcases the vital role that it plays in humanities computing,” Frischer said. “We are delighted to be involved in bringing this event to fruition, and we have great hopes for encouraging innovation of genuinely new scholarly digital tools and works, both here at U.Va. and at other institutions.”

For more information about the summit, visit its Web site

Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities

The University of Virginia established the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities to revolutionize the role of technology in humanities research and humanities education. Its mission is to explore ways that information technologies and digital media can be integrated into humanities scholarship. IATH has achieved an international reputation as a leader in the field of humanities computing, and its fellows have won several prestigious awards, including the first Lincoln Award for Electronic Media; the Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award; and the Richard W. Lyman Award from the National Humanities Center. For more on IATH, visit its Web site at

Contact: Jane Ford. (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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