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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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The Challenge of Visual Technologies to Traditional Humanistic Conceptions of Knowledge: A Case Study from within an American Technical University

Prof. Amit Ray.

1. Project: Digitization and related visual technologies are transforming traditional constructions of the humanities and transforming the ways in which the university situates itself and its educational processes within a global economy. We will examine these developments from a variety of specific disciplinary perspectives and, more generally, address the cumulative effects of these trends on the role of the humanities in a technical university.
2. Institutional Context: RIT's programs are career-oriented and responsive to market forces, facilitating entry into a globalized and technocratically conceived political economy. While oriented especially toward the technical professions, however, nearly 30% of the curriculum is within the Liberal Arts (the social sciences and humanities). Thus, the professed mission of the humanities is to provide an educational foundation for students' professional studies.
3. Disciplinary Contexts: From the four perspectives of Composition and Rhetorical Studies, Literary and Cultural Studies, Philosophy, and Visual Cultural Studies, we will explore some of the ways that visual technology and visual culture are challenging traditionally text-based, narratively organized knowledge: On an epistemological level, ocularcentric metaphors, cultures, and technologies transform the production and representation of knowledge; on an ontological level, the technologized visual mediates what is seen to exist and what is experienced to exist in fundamental ways; on a pedagogical level, the technologized visual reconfigures what is learned and induces new cognitive relationships to the objects of knowledge; and on a socio-political level, therefore, the humanities in general are challenged by their unavoidable participation in a deeply ambivalent trajectory.
4. University/Global Contexts: We hope to provide a sense of how these trends affect the very nature and function of the university as a staging ground for and enthusiastic participant in this global context.


Prof. Amit Ray  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Prof. Timothy Engstrom Prof. Lisa Hermsen Prof. Jessica Lieberman Prof. Sandra Saari Department of Language and Literature, College of Liberal Arts
Rochester Institute of Technology

Amit Ray is an Assistant Professor in Literary and Cultural Studies at RIT. His areas of specialization include postcolonial theory, orientalism and European intellectual history with regard to South Asia.

  • Technology
  • Visual
  • Technical University
  • Teaching
  • Humanities
  • Rhetoric and Composition
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Visual Cultural Studies

(60 min Workshop, English)