Digital Humanities Forum

A forum on the past, present, and future of digital humanities research at the University of Chicago and around the world.

Our Next Forum

October 29, Regenstein Library 122, 11:30-1:00pm CST

“Understanding” and prediction in artificial intelligence models

Allyson Ettinger, Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago

In recent years, the field of natural language processing (NLP) in artificial intelligence has made what appears to be incredible progress, with models even surpassing human performance on certain evaluations. How should we interpret these advances? Have these models achieved so-called language “understanding”? Operating on the premise that “understanding” will necessarily involve the capacity to extract the meaning of language inputs, in this talk I will discuss a series of projects leveraging targeted tests to examine NLP models’ ability to capture linguistic meaning in a systematic fashion. I will discuss implications of the findings both for currently dominant model paradigms in NLP, and for the study of language processing in humans.

Please register for the forum. If you need any additional accommodations to participate in the Forum, please contact Carmen Caswell (

Digital Technologies for Humanists

Join faculty, students, and University staff in discussing the tools and support resources for scholars working at the nexus of the humanities, the social sciences, and technology, as well as presentations from current projects.

Anemoia Listening: Nostalgia, Fantasy, and Despair

This paper theorizes present-day youth listening practices through the concept of “anemoia listening”—characterized by fantasy and pseudo-nostalgic longing for something the listeners have never experienced. Through case studies of pirate chanteys and synthwave, this paper argues that these niche yet diverse online music spaces illuminate the limits to imagination and the sense of decline endemic to the current youth generation.

The Healthcare Information Crisis: Medical Ontologies and the Challenge of Data Harmonization

This symposium brings together leading experts in biomedical informatics and digital data integration with UChicago faculty in medicine and other departments to discuss an urgent problem in healthcare: How to combine disparate sources of digital information within a common ontological framework for automated querying and analysis, even when this data is recorded by healthcare professionals and researchers using divergent vocabularies and conceptual schemes. This problem becomes ever more pressing with the explosion of big data in medicine, as in other fields, and the failure to solve it is incurring enormous costs and inefficiencies. 

Visualizing/Performing Blackness in the Afterlives of Slavery (Visualizaciones y performances de lo negro en el más allá de la esclavitud: un archivo caribeño)

On April 19, the Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture will launch its first digital exhibit, Visualizing/Performing Blackness in the Afterlives of Slavery: A Caribbean Archive, curated by Danielle Roper. The group will launch the exhibit during two virtual roundtables with the invited artists on April 19 (in English) and April 20 (in Spanish).