Sussex Humanities Lab

About the lab

The Sussex Humanities Lab is dedicated to developing and expanding research into how digital technologies are shaping our culture and society, as well as the way we go about our research. We believe that information scientists; literary theorists; media scholars, designers and practitioners; social scientists and historians can collaborate to develop humanities and social science research - to explore the human condition and its evolution, and the social and material worlds we make. We wish to make the humanities fit for purpose in a digital age.

Awarded £3 million to create a substantial research infrastructure our goals are to enable critical, innovative work in the digital humanities; capture major funding to expand research capacity; and ensure these gains become sustainably rooted in the University. 

SHL is led by Director Caroline Bassett (Professor of Media and Communications) and Co-Directors David Berry (Professor in Digital Humanities), Tim Hitchcock (Professor of Digital History), and Rachel Thomson (Professor of Childhood and Youth Studies). Professor David Weir leads the Informatics team (TAG Laboratory) with whom the Lab is associated, and Joanna Ball (Head of Library Content Delivery & Digital Strategy) leads Sussex Humanities Lab’s work in the Library.

SHL has a dedicated space, the Digital Humanities Lab, designed to facilitate innovative work in the digital humanities.

SHL research activity includes collaborative research projects, a programme of seminars and workshops, a visiting fellows programme, and training for early career researchers via six funded PhD studentships and doctoral training events.

Digital History/Digital Archives

This strand seeks to move beyond the provision of digital archives to the re-analysis and presentation of inherited materials. ‘Big Data’, distant and close reading of digital materials (text, place and objects), re-configuring search and archival structures, and exploring new ways of presenting history online, form the core activities of staff in this strand. 

Digital Media/Computational Culture

This strand is concerned with the transformative moment in humanities and social science research when computation becomes not only an everyday part of the research process, but also the condition for the research to be undertaken. Adopting a critical approach to the development and dissemination of digital media in all forms, the strand interrogates: the materiality of computational technology; the relationship between symbol and signal; computation and epistemic change; and finally power and activism in relation to digital technologies.

Digital Technologies/Digital Performance

Digital technologies in the arts, practice-led research geared towards artistic processes and productions. Real-time sensors and algorithmic processes, motion capture and live coding, artificial intelligence and artificial life techniques are investigated through creative digital renderings of motion and gesture in sonic and visual arts, extending to haptics and multimodal forms. Research also focusses on datasets pertaining to other forms of “live” cultural heritage, and the novel kinds of performance / performativity emerging via locative and distributed media, and aggregated big data.

Digital Lives/ Digital Memories

The exploration of digital technologies and their affordances as they come to form part of the fabric of everyday lives, creating new logics of practice that may be realised in different and unexpected ways. A key theme here is ‘digital childhoods’, involving documenting and analysing contemporary childhoods and exploring the interplay between dynamic processes of technical and biosocial maturation. Digital temporalities are also an analytic focus, and the use of longitudinal, cross generational and archive based methodologies will enable exploration of cultural transitions between analogue and digital environments.