Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Research Seminar Series

Alchemy and Numerology: Culture and Extraction in a Digital Society

"Electronics digested a mix of digital numerology and alchemy, collecting metadata as input to pattern recognition algorithms,
breathing life into a machine capable of doing what men and women spent a century trying to do" Carvalko (2016: 121). Considering the emergent conditions of a digital society, this paper considers the dynamics of the big data paradigm and its potentials for scholars working in cultural studies. This paper makes the assertion that the two primary motivations of the big data paradigm stem from two longstanding preoccupations of human science, namely numerology and alchemy. Upon the basis of this critique, I will seek to consider the broad implications of the increasing centrality of big data in social research as well as the procedures through which everyday culture provides the raw material for prediction. In doing so I will begin to consider how the humanities might address the mutual decline of interpretation and truth.

4.00pm Thursday 19 October 2017
Seminar Room 402, Level 4, Forgan Smith Tower
For further information, please contact or 07 334 59492.

All welcome.


Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower (Building #1)