Colloquium: Stephen Ramsay

Date(s) - 01/18/2024
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

4010 JFSB


The Humanities Center and the Office of Digital Humanities are pleased to welcome Steve Ramsay, Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the Center’s first colloquium of the semester on Thursday, January 18th @ 3:00 PM in 4010 JFSB. We hope you will join us. Refreshments will be served.

Title: Resilience, Romanticism, and the “Techno” in Techno-Capitalism

The term “resilience,” which once described a property of non-human systems and materials, is now routinely applied to people. Such is the logic of techno-capitalism, which ever seeks to treat people as “human resources”—as non-human commodities subject to market forces that (we are told) are as natural and unpredictable as hurricanes and earthquakes. Yet despite all that, resilience still seems to most people like a desirable moral virtue. In this talk, I will trace out the logic of why this is so, by demonstrating the curious affinities among terms like “resilience,” “creativity,” and any number of ordinary technical terms in computing (“bit,” “algorithm,” “data,” “randomness”). I will argue that the exuberance that often accompanies our deployment of these terms hearkens back to ancient categories and ways of thinking, and that indeed, techno-capitalism uses these terms to feed upon our most optimistic and most human longings.

About our Guest:

Stephen Ramsay is Susan J. Rosowski Associate University Professor of English and a Fellow at the Center. He specializes in philosophical issues related to the use of technology in digital humanities, and teaches courses in programming and software engineering to humanities students in both the Department of English and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Before coming to Lincoln, Steve worked as a software engineer for the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia. He lectures widely on subjects related to digital humanities and software design.

Steve is the author of Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism (University of Illinois Press, 2011) and is at work (with Patrick Juola) on a book for Oxford University Press entitled Mathematics for the Humanist.

He holds a Masters and Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and did his undergraduate work at Rutgers.

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