How does technology mediate what it means to be human? How have scientific, intellectual, and artistic experiments reshaped human experience in diverse historical and cultural contexts, and how might they shape our shared futures? Experimental Humanities (EH) provides interdisciplinary experimentation with digital, analog, and conceptual methods of learning, research, and public engagement. Bard is committed to the notion that embracing experimental approaches is essential to fostering practices that are inclusive for all learners and transformative for the societies in which we live. EH works with media and technology forms from across historical periods, taking them not only as objects of scholarly study but also as live methods; and considers the experience of form a crucial pathway to understanding how it functions as a part of cultural, social, and political inquiry. EH emphasizes reflective, critical engagements with media, technology, and their intersections; the relationship between digital methodologies and humanities scholarship; collaboration between traditionally disparate disciplines such as computer science, literature, and the arts; the role of experimentation in humanities research; and public-facing engagement that brings rigorous academic scholarship into conversation with local concerns and community needs.
Experimental Humanities draws upon the courses offered by its core faculty and includes two dedicated and required introductory courses: Introduction to Media (Literature 235) and History of the Experiment (Art History 252). To moderate into EH, students must have successfully completed (or be enrolled in) one of these courses and one other EH cross-listed course, and fulfilled the Moderation requirements of the primary program. All candidates for Moderation must demonstrate a clear idea of how the EH concentration will work with their major program of study in their short papers (or, if not moderating simultaneously into a primary program, submit a separate two- to three-page paper addressing this question). At least one member of the Moderation board should be a faculty member affiliated with EH. To graduate, students must have completed both core courses, two additional EH or EH cross-listed courses (including one above the 200 level), and at least one practicing arts course beyond the College arts requirement or a computer science course. An EH Senior Project can take many forms, depending on the requirements of the student’s primary program(s). For EH, it need only engage with one or more of the questions and concerns of the concentration, including: How does technology mediate what it means to be human? How does media shape culture and/or the pursuit of knowledge? How do traditional and experimental methods of inquiry affect what knowledge looks like? Exceptions to these guidelines may be subject to the discretion of the EH Steering Committee, in consultation with the student’s primary program and academic advise.
Introduction to Media provides a foundation in media history and theory. It also explores how students can use aspects of traditional humanistic approaches (e.g., close reading and visual literacy) to critically engage with texts of all kinds. Students consider how material conditions shape discourse and assess their own positions as consumers and producers of media. History of the Experiment considers major figures and experimental approaches, such as poetics, the philosophical thought experiment, and the scientific method; and challenges students to reconsider existing categories of and approaches to knowledge formation.
Recent courses include: Art and the Internet; Experiments in Art and Technology; Games at Work: Going Viral—Performance, Media, Memes; Ethnography in Image, Sound, and Text; Improvisation as Social Science; Radio Africa; Rights and the Image; The Book before Print; and Woman as Cyborg.
Program Director: Maria Sachiko Cecire
Faculty:Ross Exo Adams
Katherine Morris Boivin
Maria Sachiko Cecire
Robert J. Culp
Adhaar Noor Desai
Jacqueline Susan Goss
Susan M. Merriam
Gregory B. Moynahan