Tools of the Humanities Symposium Friday, 3 April 2015, 8:30am-6:00pm Bartos Theater, E15-070
The symposium invites scholars, from diverse disciplinary approaches, to examine the ways in which tangible, verbal, textual, visual and conceptual devices affect how we manage the various exigencies and problems that we encounter in our daily lives. What are the positive implications of applying MIT’s ethos and motto of Mens et Manus to how we use, interact with, and deploy these devices? How do social structures shape and become reflected in the kinds of devices that we ultimately choose to create? How do devices expressly created for disciplines in the Humanities actually fare, especially considering that the activities of answering, solving, and repairing are not always necessarily their bailiwick or mission? Consequently what value judgments do we make about devices made by and for these fields of study? For instance, literary critics often disparage deus ex machina as artistically lazy, or they view it as an intentional satirization of the “easy fix.” Thus this question about how the impulse to invent a device would fare in a particular context constitutes the beginning of an attempt to analyze our present-day fixation on fixing things—on creating tools.