Upcoming lecture by renowned artist Vitaly Komar

The Centre for Humanities Innovation at Durham University is proud to sponsor a lecture by renowned artist Vitaly Komar, to be given on Thursday, 27th November from 17:00 to 18:30 in room ER142, Elvet Riverside, Durham University. Mr Komar was one of the founders of the Sots Art movement (Soviet Pop/Conceptual Art) and a pioneer of multi-stylistic post-modernism (1972-73). He will give a talk entitled “Collaboration with Animals in Art: Sots-art and Conceptual Eclecticism”; all are welcome to attend. For more information, please contact humanities.innovation@durham.ac.uk.

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Centre for Humanities Innovation Reading Group – Next session

Durham University research staff and postgraduates are warmly invited to the next session of the Centre for Humanities Innovation reading group, which will take place on Wednesday, 19th November at 12 noon in A56, Elvet Riverside. Please follow this link to access the reading, which is a selection from Bruno Latour: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. An Anthropology of the Moderns. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press. (Chapters 5, ‘Removing Some Speech Impediments’, and 6, ‘Correcting a Slight Defect in Construction’, pp. 123-178.)

Inaugural International Conference ‘Beyond Crisis: Visions for the New Humanities

Inaugural International Conference
Centre for Humanities Innovation (CHI), Durham University, UK

Beyond Crisis: Visions for the New Humanities
July 7-8, 2014

We have received more than fifty submissions for the upcoming conference and about thirty of them have been accepted. Confirmed plenary speakers include Prof. Thomas Docherty (Warwick), Prof. Francis Donoghue (Ohio State University), Prof. Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway), Prof. Sander Gilman (Emory University), and Dr Luciana Parisi (Goldsmiths University of London). The registration to the conference will open within a week, please look for our announcements.

For further queries please contact the organisers (Prof. Mikhail Epstein, Dr. Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Dr., Gerald Moore) at the dedicated conference email: humanities.innovation@durham.ac.uk.


Most people agree that the humanities are going through transition, even if they disagree over the details. At the more optimistic end of the scale, exemplified by the Digital_Humanities project, the collapse of the paradigm of classical humanism has coincided with the proliferation of visual and digital culture, creating unprecedented possibilities in a field that is already defined by constant intellectual renewal. More pessimistically, however, an ideological shift toward the sciences means, on one hand, that student numbers and funding for the humanities continue to fall, while, on the other, humanities research is increasingly assessed against inappropriate criteria designed for the sciences. Even among advocates of the humanities, debates on their future continue to be framed in economic terms, with critics caught in the contradictory position of heralding our contribution to the labour market, while valorising the unquantifiability, the irreducibility to exchange-value, of critical thought.

Have we no choice but to adapt to the culture of commodification, to pursue profit and output in a way that entails complicity in the very processes we are seeking to resist? How might we harness the creativity and intellectual resources of the humanities to envision and create alternative futures? Does the future of the humanities lie in becoming anti- or post-human, or in a renewal of the ‘human’, however defined? To what extent does the relentless growth of science and technology both constrain and liberate our possibilities of becoming-other?

The Durham Centre for Humanities Innovation (CHI) has been founded to contest the inevitability of acquiescence in the marginalisation of the humanities; to foster intellectual creativity in scholarship and research; and to encourage the creation of new ideas, concepts, mental schemes, and other products of intellectual imagination. Discussions of the humanities’ future, and of the future humanities, have recently appeared in the form of book-length manifestos (John Russo 2005; Martha Nussbaum 2010; Mikhail Epstein 2012). The modality of the manifesto reflects the urgent need for methodological breakthroughs in the humanities.

In a bid to break with the established format of papers followed by questions, our inaugural conference will revolve around brief presentations on pre-circulated material, opening onto discussion and collective improvisation, with the aim of creating a programme for action. Topics for consideration include:

  • Creativity and imagination in the humanities
  • Paradigmatic and methodological innovation in the humanities; new genres and disciplines
  • Humanities scholarship as foundation for cultural practices
  • The humanities and the digital: modes of mutual transformation
  • The humanities confronting environmental challenges
  • ‘Third Cultures’: effective interactions between the humanities and sciences

Centre for Humanities Innovation Reading Group

The Centre for Humanities Innovation will be conducting their second meeting of the Reading Group on Wednesday, December 11th at 12 noon. The reading will be over Bernard Stiegler’s ‘What makes life worth living: of pharmacology’ and will meet at Elvet Riverside, room A56. Contact humanities.innovation@durham.ac.uk to receive a copy of the reading and confirm your attendance.

Inaugural Conference ‘Beyond Crisis: Visions for the New Humanities’

Inaugural Conference
Centre for Humanities Innovation (CHI), Durham University, UK

Beyond Crisis: Visions for the New Humanities
July 7-8, 2014
Call for Manifestos

Most people agree that the humanities are going through transition, even if they disagree over the details. At the more optimistic end of the scale, exemplified by the Digital_Humanities project, the collapse of the paradigm of classical humanism has coincided with the proliferation of visual and digital culture, creating unprecedented possibilities in a field that is already defined by constant intellectual renewal. More pessimistically, however, an ideological shift toward the sciences means, on one hand, that student numbers and funding for the humanities continue to fall, while, on the other, humanities research is increasingly assessed against inappropriate criteria designed for the sciences. Even among advocates of the humanities, debates on their future continue to be framed in economic terms, with critics caught in the contradictory position of heralding our contribution to the labour market, while valorising the unquantifiability, the irreducibility to exchange-value, of critical thought.

Have we no choice but to adapt to the culture of commodification, to pursue profit and output in a way that entails complicity in the very processes we are seeking to resist? How might we harness the creativity and intellectual resources of the humanities to envision and create alternative futures? Does the future of the humanities lie in becoming anti- or post-human, or in a renewal of the ‘human’, however defined? To what extent does the relentless growth of science and technology both constrain and liberate our possibilities of becoming-other?

The Durham Centre for Humanities Innovation (CHI) has been founded to contest the inevitability of acquiescence in the marginalisation of the humanities; to foster intellectual creativity in scholarship and research; and to encourage the creation of new ideas, concepts, mental schemes, and other products of intellectual imagination. Discussions of the humanities’ future, and of the future humanities, have recently appeared in the form of book-length manifestos (John Russo 2005; Martha Nussbaum 2010; Mikhail Epstein 2012). The modality of the manifesto reflects the urgent need for methodological breakthroughs in the humanities.

It is in this spirit that we are launching a call for manifestos – not traditional papers – for our inaugural conference. Submissions may take the form of an entire manifesto (of between 1,000 and 2,000 words); a series of points for address; or even a single item for inclusion on the new humanities agenda. In a bid to break with the established format of papers followed by questions, the conference will revolve around brief presentations on pre-circulated material, opening onto discussion and collective improvisation, with the aim of creating a programme for action. Topics for consideration include:

  • Creativity and imagination in the humanities
  • Paradigmatic and methodological innovation in the humanities; new genres and disciplines
  • Humanities scholarship as foundation for cultural practices
  • The humanities and the digital: modes of mutual transformation
  • The humanities confronting environmental challenges
  • ‘Third Cultures’: effective interactions between the humanities and sciences

Submit your proposals for what can and needs to be done, along with a brief biographical note, to humanities.innovation@durham.ac.uk. Manifestos will be considered until March 31, 2014. Please specify whether you would like your manifesto to be published and opened to comments on the CHI website, or pre-circulated to conference delegates only.

Confirmed plenary speakers include Prof. Thomas Docherty (Warwick) and Prof. Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway). For further queries please contact the organisers (Prof. Mikhail Epstein, Dr. Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Dr. Gerald Moore) at the dedicated conference email: humanities.innovation@durham.ac.uk.

New Directions in the Humanities: International conference in Budapest, June 19 – 21.

Our Centre for Humanities Innovation team will travel to Budapest this week to participate in the COLLOQUIUM:

New Paradigms in the Humanities and the Transformation of the Literary

Assessments of how new relationships between humanities disciplines, and indeed a new humanities, can be forged on the basis of a new concept of the literary will be discussed here.

The Colloquium will include the introduction on the Centre’s activities by Centre’s director Prof. Mikhail Epstein, as well as brief presentations on the tasks and the future of the humanities followed by an open discussion.

Gerald Moore. The Third Culture Humanities Network: Theses for a Provisional Manifesto

Caitríona Ní Dhúill. Technologies of Self–Inscription

Nick Roberts. Is there a single author in this room?

Alastair Renfrew. The Transformations of the Literary

Mikhail Epstein. The Transformative Humanities: What, How and Why to Transform?

June 19, 13.05 – 14.45. Room 7.

See details:

http://thehumanities.com/the-conference