Digital Cultures Lecture Series

In collaboration with the office of the Vice-Dean of Research of the Faculty of Arts, we are pleased to present the Digital Cultures Lecture series. This year-long series will introduce cutting-edge research and initiatives in digital scholarship. Lectures in September and October will be offered in a hybrid format with an option for guests to join us remotely via Zoom. Details are provided below.


Winter 2023 Lectures

17 February at 11:00

Seeing Like an Algorithmic Error: What are Algorithmic Mistakes, Why do They Matter, How Might they be Public Problems?

This is a virtual presentation. Register now!

This lecture is part of the 2023 edition of the “Digital Humanities Virtual Seminar” organized by the CRIHN, the Thinc Lab (Guelph), The Humanities Data Lab (uOttawa), and the Center for Digital Humanities (Toronto Metropolitan U).

Mike Ananny is an Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism and Affiliated Faculty of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where he studies the public significance of digital infrastructures, journalistic practices, and algorithmic systems. He co-directs the interdisciplinary USC collective MASTS (Media As SocioTechnical Systems) and the Sloan Foundation project Knowing Machines (with Kate Crawford and Jason Schultz).  He is the author of Networked Press Freedom (MIT Press, 2018), co-editor (with Laura Forlano and Molly Wright Steenson) of Bauhaus Futures (MIT Press, 2019), and publishes in various interdisciplinary domains.

 As digital devices, massive datasets, and machine learning techniques proliferate, computational algorithms increasingly, invisibly, and often inexplicably shape many social, political, and cultural dynamics. In everything from law and politics to commerce and art, algorithms are powerful structuring logics and sociotechnical forces. But what does it mean when algorithms “fail”? What do we learn about the logics and forces that create algorithms when they are seen to have erred or made a mistake? Seeing algorithms as culture, I argue that algorithmic errors are similarly constructs made by intertwined computational, psychological, organizational, infrastructural, discursive, and normative forces. In this talk I tell three stories of algorithmic error, illustrate their sociotechnical dynamics, and examine the institutional and normative forces that define “failure.” Instead of seeing algorithmic errors as unavoidable or self-evident, I instead see them as evidence of how people think systems should work, who has the power to declare failure, which harms trigger which fixes, and how defining and repairing algorithmic mistakes bounds public problems. 

English presentation.

26 January at 11:00:

Traces, Memories, 3D Visualisations: Methodological Tests Based on Two Regional Examples

This is a virtual presentation. Register to view the presentation via Zoom.

Pierre-Olivier Mazagol holds a doctorate in geography and is a geomatic engineer at the Environnement Ville Société laboratory (UMR 5600 CNRS) of the Université Jean Monnet in Saint-Étienne. He works on questions related to geomatic techniques, the environment and cultural heritage, using an interdisciplinary approach.

Michel Depeyre iis an HDR senior lecturer in history and heritage. He heads the Environnement Ville Société laboratory of the Université Jean Monnet in Saint-Étienne and is working on a reflective approach to spatial analysis of historical or heritage-related facts and phenomena, material and immaterial.  

Historians aren’t always keen to represent the facts or phenomena central to their research, disregarding the benefits of maps or of 3D visualization. Yet geomatic tools, still used far too little in history and other disciplines that could benefit from them, allow us to address the epistemological concerns these gaps lead to. Our interdisciplinary approach presents a common methodology applied to two different examples, environmental and historical. One deals with the visualization of a landscape of gorges flooded by a dam burst in 1957; the other, with the spatial analysis of collaboration with the German occupiers and the resistance at Saint-Étienne between 1940 and 1945. Beyond epistemological considerations, the fruits of this reflection and work are contributing to the development of knowledge aimed at the general public.

French presentation.


Fall 2022 Lectures

Spatial visualization of archaeological data from Place d’Youville (Montreal)

Léon Robichaud, Full Professor (Université Sherbrooke)

  • Date : 22 september 2022
  • Time: 10:00 to 11:00
  • Location: CreatorSpace (PRZ 302)
  • Watch the presentation on YouTube.

French presentation.

New visualization tools can provide solutions to the challenges of managing and analyzing archaeological data when the quantities and space become large. In the case of the Place d’Youville site, excavations have so far yielded more than 320,000 artifacts spread over nearly 2,000 square meters. A geomatics application, developed as part of a collaboration between the Laboratoire d’histoire et de patrimoine de Montréal, the Université de Sherbrooke and Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, facilitates the analysis of the distribution of artifacts over the surface of the site and according to the phases identified by the archaeologists. The various search and display modes speed up the consultation of information and allow for in-depth analyses that would have been very difficult without such tools.

Digital Cultural and Heritage Collections: Enabling Innovative Access and Expanding Research

Clare Appavoo, Executive Director of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network

English presentation.

Improved access to and discovery of digital cultural and heritage content has shifted the ways in which social science and humanities researchers interact with research data and primary sources, conduct research using a variety of tools, and ultimately disseminate research outputs. This shift in scholarship has resulted in a shift in the ways the academic library community support researchers at the institutional, regional, and national level. As partners in scholarship production and dissemination, the academic library community through the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), is actively investing in academy-owned infrastructure to support innovative and evolving research needs. Clare Appavoo, Executive Director at CRKN will share the vision to evolve the existing Canadiana infrastructure and enhance the content to inspire new research, to mobilize data for the humanities and social sciences, and to develop a more competitive Canadian cultural heritage sector that can contribute globally to digital research.  

Entretiens Jacques Cartier 2022

Equity, diversity and inclusion in a digital context

  • Date: 29 November 2022
  • Time: 9:00 to 17:00
  • Location: Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS), room 4007

This event is in French.

The 2022 Entretien Jacques Cartier will bring together French and Canadian representatives from the private, academic and museum sectors to examine how digital technology can be used to represent diverse identities. The day’s discussions will highlight the rich and dynamic contribution of French and Canadian diversity to the evolution of digital societies. This activity is organized in partnership with l’Université Lyon 2, l’École normale supérieure de Lyon, l’Université Jean Monnet and Ingenium: Canada’s museums of science and technology.


Past guest speakers include:

  • Jennifer Guiliano (IUPU)- Indigeneity & the Digital Humanities
  • Sabine Loudcher (Lyon 2)- Quelle recherche en informatique dans les Humanités Numériques?
  • James Lee (uCincinnati )- Mapping a Global Renaissance with 53,829 Texts
  • Geoffrey Rockwell (uAlberta)- Communities of Words: Categories, Lists, and Text Analysis
  • Ariel Beaujot (Western)- The Fight to Take Down “The Big Indian”: Digital Humanities and its use in social justice work
  • Cecily Raynor (McGill)- Decolonizing the Digital: Cultures of Connectivity in the Latin American Web
  • Shawn Graham (Carleton)- They Sell What? Studying the Trade in Human Remains on Social Media
  • Laura Mandell (Texas A&M) – Nourishing and Sustaining a Scholarly Infrastructure Built from the Ground Up
  • Alan Liu (UC Santa Barbara)- What Infrastructure Assumes: Digital Humanities and Critical Infrastructure Studies