I’d like to converse about failure, something that has been central to discussions of DH and of critical theory — as well as to those suspicious of either or both.

And rather than rattle off a list of that stuff here, it seems like it’d be a lot more interesting to see what everyone could bring to it there. We could perhaps work on our own glorious failure, such as a map of this very subject. Or we could just play some Binding of Isaac. Whatever folks are keen on, really, so long as it’s more “rousing” and less “success.”

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/10/01/failure/


Cars, trains, lines of flight

Hi everyone,

A few logistical details, mostly just re-linking from the logistics page (thanks for putting that together, Andrew):

I’ve had multiple panicked tweets from campers who fear that the train from [x] to New Brunswick does not run on the weekends. New Jersey Transit is your friend.* There is an 8:14 train from Penn Station that will put you in New Brunswick at 9:11, with plenty of time to walk to Murray Hall. (It’s like three blocks.) Sadly, if you’re coming from Philadelphia, you’ll need to take SEPTA to Trenton and transfer to New Jersey Transit there. This is not fast, but it does run on the weekend.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CARPOOL WITH OTHER CAMPERS: may I suggest posting to that effect on this here blog so that others might come out of the woodwork and contact you. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A ROOMMATE, ditto.

You can find hotel information here. The Heldrich and the Hyatt are each in close walking distance to Murray Hall. [UPDATE: 9/30 I’m told the Heldrich and the Hyatt are both full up. Anyone staying at the Crowne Plaza Edison can get a ride in my tiny bean-car, assuming you are okay with showing up on the early side.] There will be parking available on campus (thanks to Meredith for setting that up).

For those of you who have asked me about scheduling details: I hope to have that for you soon.

Ok! More session ideas, y’all! And as always, email with questions or concerns: .

*Words I cannot believe I just wrote.

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/27/cars-trains-lines-of-flight/



Inspired by Latour et al’s “The Whole is Always Smaller Than Its Parts: A Digital Test of Gabriel Tarde’s Monads,” I’d like to have a discussion about monads. Latour and his co-authors claim that “monads dissolve the quandary [of describing individuals vs. describing the wholes to which they belong] and redefine the notion of the whole by relocating it as what overlapping entities inherit from one another.” They further claim that databases and modern statistical techniques make a monadological approach practical.

This interests me on a couple of levels. First, I find monadology intriguing as a theory of categories, though I can’t really claim to fully understand it at this point. One of the things that originally drew me to digital humanities was the apparent contradiction between the humanities focus on the unique and particular, and the digital imperative to group under categories. I wonder if monadology actually does suggest a way out of this quandary, or describes it in a more nuanced way. Second, I don’t think that current databases actually do what Latour et al claim that they do, but I’m interested in investigating whether they could.

This could also be an excuse to geek out about functional programming.

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/26/monads/


Donations by mail

I was recently asked how to send in a donation by mail. It’s easy!

Checks may be made out to Bard College and mailed to:

THATCamp Theory, c/o Kimberly Alexander
Bard College
30 Campus Road
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504

Thanks to Bard College for handling our account.
If you use Paypal, use the “donate” button in the sidebar to the right.

Schedule details and other fine things are coming soon. In the meantime, post your session ideas!

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/24/donations-by-mail/


The Code Behind Theory

Once in a while you will hear me half-joke that I can find a digital humanities angle in any project coming out of the humanities. Of course, since most if not all projects in the humanities have a document, spatial and/or temporal component, that rash claim can become a boring truism fairly quick. Being in the business of pushing boundaries, what I really want to get at is what I see as the algorithmic desires in all critical prose. Saved perhaps as the last boundary of artificial intelligence, I’m afraid we might have become a bit superstitious about the distance between our critical faculties and mechanistic processes.

Departing from my premature contribution to this year’s critical code studies group, I would like to explore the possibility of reconstructing arguments using code. A small back and forth with Hugh Cayless around that post led me to separate at least two dimensions in critical arguments that could be ‘coded’: a) The methods used by any given critic to engage with documents, authors, places, etc.; and b) The actual structure of the argument (à la argument maps). For me, the goal of these ‘naive’ exercises is to find even more avenues of communication between book-bound traditional practices in our profession and what is seen as the more mathematical band.



Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/23/the-code-behind-theory/


What’s code got to do / got to do with it?

Writing has always been mediated, mostly physically. There are things that can and cannot be done in a cuneiform tablet that differ from that for a scroll, and that for a codex, and that for runes on bark, and that for a printed book, and that for a web page.

When we get to the web page, we move from physical mediation — forms or practices or means of production based on the physical properties — to forms or practices or means of production based on the code (another “text”!) that makes that mode of textuality possible.

Let’s talk about how expression of ideas is mediated by the code, analogous to how expression of ideas has been mediated by earlier means of production.


Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/22/whats-code-got-to-do-got-to-do-with-it/


Welcome, THATCampers!

Everyone who has applied to THATCamp Theory to date has now been added to the site. If you applied but have not received a confirmation email giving you access to this site, send the organizers an email at .

If you’ve received your confirmation email, then you should be able to post to this blog. Post your session ideas! Exploring YOUR ideas is, after all, what THATCamp Theory is for.

I’d also like to encourage everyone who can afford it to donate to THATCamp Theory. THATCamps are intended to be accessible and inexpensive for all participants, which is why there is no registration fee, as there would be at a regular conference. We do have operating expenses, however, and in addition, we very much want to offer travel assistance to those who need it. In lieu of a registration fee, there is a suggested donation of $30.

Questions? Concerns? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line: .

See you soon!

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/16/welcome-thatcampers/


Now accepting applications!

Go here to apply to attend THATCamp Theory. It takes two minutes!

To have your spot confirmed by 9/14, please apply by 9/7. This will also improve your chances of getting a travel grant, if you need one.

And please, spread the word! You can download a cheesy flyer here [pdf], or you can make your own — email me at for the logo.

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/09/01/now-accepting-applications/


THATCamp Theory approaches

So… I know that if you went by the activity on this site, all summer long it looked like THATCamp Theory was going to be, er, purely theoretical. But secretly a bunch of us have been THATCamping like the wind, as it were. THATCamp Theory will be held October 13-14, 2012 in Murray Hall at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ). It will include workshops led by Shannon Mattern, Jean Bauer, Patrick Murray-John, Wendy Chun, and Andrew Lison about which I am exceedingly stoked.

What else will it include? Well, that’s up to you.

I hope to post more in the coming days and weeks, but for now:

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/08/23/thatcamp-theory-approaches/


Coming Soon

We are in the process of designing and redesigning this site. Stay tuned for further announcements about THATCamp Theory!

Permanent link to this article: http://theory2012.thatcamp.org/11/08/coming-soon/

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