» 5CollDH Lecture Series: Roopika Risam

5CollDH Lecture Series: Roopika Risam

February 19, 2015 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Frost Library, Amherst College

Is a Critical Digital Humanities Possible?

Lessons from Postcolonial Digital Humanities

Roopika Risam, February 19th 4:30–5:30pm @ Friendly Reading Room, Frost Library, Amherst College College



Over the past few years, scholars within the digital humanities and new media studies such as Alan Liu, Tara McPherson, and Amy Earhart have raised important questions about the role of culture criticism in the field of digital humanities. More recently, interventions like #transformDH and #dhpoco have built on their work, looking for frameworks for situating digital humanities in relation to questions of difference: race, gender, nation, class, sexuality, and disability, among others. Professor Risam’s talk considers the theoretical frames subtending her work with #dhpoco, at the juncture of postcolonial studies and the digital humanities. Examining questions of language, knowledge production, and subjectivity, she will reflect on the ways postcolonial studies contributes to critical digital humanities, as well as the limits of postcolonial theory for the digital humanities.


Roopika Risam
Feb. 19, 2015

Roopika Risam is an Assistant Professor of English and Secondary Education English Undergraduate Coordinator at Salem State University. Her research examines intersections between postcolonial, African American, and US ethnic studies, and the role of digital humanities in mediating between them. Her digital scholarship includes The Harlem Shadows Project, on producing usable critical editions of public domain texts; Postcolonial Digital Humanities, an online community dedicated to global explorations of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability within cultures of technology; and EdConteXts, an international network of educators.

Risam is currently working on a project on postcolonial and global themes in W.E.B. Du Bois’s writing. Additionally, she is the co-founder of Postcolonial Digital Humanities. Risam has a Ph.D. in English from Emory University.


The Five College Digital Humanities Speaker Series for the 2014-2015 academic year explores politics, poetics and urgency in the study of digital cultures.

Collectively, our invited lecturers are concerned with interactions between the human and the machine, and the stakes of those interactions on human expression, creativity, consciousness, and liberty. Questions of interactivity, and how interactive modes of (critical, creative, scholarly) engagement transform our relationships to larger sociopolitical issues are embedded into scholarly and artistic endeavors on some level.

Our speakers have crafted lectures on their most urgent thoughts, hopes, and frustrations regarding the contours and study of digital/network cultures. Lectures may be as expansive as examining the borders and frontiers of the digital humanities, or as concentrated as using a current project as a case study to explore a larger issue. What are the freedoms and limitations, the crucial issues, the moments of genius and failure, that are embedded in the digital and the humanistic? What is at stake?


Kimberly Bain
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Kimberly Bain is the Post-Baccalaureate Resident for 5CollDH and a staunch supporter of the Dothraki academic referencing system. You can learn more about her here.