Digital Experiments is a graduate-faculty working group in the Department of English at New York University. The group pursues a broad understanding of the intersection between digital tools and humanistic inquiry by engaging in collaborative practices of research, writing, and discussion. Taking a cue from Samuel Johnson’s definition of “experiment”—“The Trial of anything; something done in order to discover an uncertain or unknown effect”—we view our work as an investigation into how digital tools and practices can reshape literary studies today.
Our work is driven as much by process as by product. While members of the group have varied research interests—ranging from early modern knowledge systems to contemporary social media platforms—we share and foster investigative practices that query the division between making and critiquing. As we acquire new skills in digital textual analysis, we reflect on the conceptual underpinnings of these methods. To this end, we have adopted a variety of reflexive critical strategies for our meetings, including the “charette” model of production, which entails short-term solutions to long-term conceptual and methodological problems. We also explore new critical genres, including meeting minutes and the “critical interpretation,” a short response that puts products and process into scholarly conversation.