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Home 2011 The Statistical Sublime: Futurism and Numbers

The Statistical Sublime: Futurism and Numbers

Public Lecture by Professor Jeffrey T. Schnapp

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Where FedEx Global Education Center, UNC-Chapel Hill
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Jeffrey SchnappJeffrey T. Schnapp, Stanford University

Workshop and Public Lecture

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 
FedEx Global Education Center | UNC-Chapel Hill

Workshop: The Digital Humanities Manifesto |  3:00 - 5:00pm | Room 3009
Professor Jeffrey T. Schnapp will meet with students and researchers and discuss his Digital Humanities Manifesto ( and the projects that he has developed at the Stanford Humanities Lab (

Lecture: The Statistical Sublime: Futurism and Numbers | 5:30 - 7:00pm | Room 4003
Numbers have always been integral to poetry, from the quantitative metrics of ancient verse to Dante’s definition of poetry as numeri regolati and beyond. Likewise, they have forever undergirded compositional principles in the visual arts with their golden sections and metaphysical ratios. Yet it is only in the 20th century that they move from the backstage out onto the catwalk of cultural communication. Futurism plays a decisive role in this shift, insisting from the outset that it will sing a world of human multitudes navigating a sea of that newest fruit of the contemporary physical and social sciences: statistics—statistics regarding productivity, mobility, opinion, speed. The Statistical Sublime sketches an overall portrait of number and mathematical notation in Futurist theory and practice, Italian and Russian. It tells the tale of how, extending Kant’s mathematical sublime, Futurism enacts a détournement of the tools of the new positivist rationality.

***Reception to follow lecture.***

Free parking is available after 5pm at the FedEx Global Education Building.

Jeffrey T. Schnapp ( is the Rosina Pierotti chair and professor of French and Italian and Comparative literature at Stanford University. He is the founder and director of the Stanford Humanities Lab. Though primarily anchored in the field of Italian studies, Prof. Schnapp has played a pioneering role in several areas of transdisciplinary research and led the development of a new wave of digital humanities work. His research interests extend from antiquity to the present, encompassing the material history of literature, the history of 20th century architecture and design, and the cultural history of science and engineering.

Sponsors: The Center for European Studies, The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, The Department of Communication Studies, The Interdisciplinary Program in Cinema, ScreenArts Media Makers Series, Student Congress, and The Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-CH as well as The Department of Romance Studies, Information Science + Information Studies, and The Program in Literature at Duke.

For further information contact:
Federico Luisetti or Rich Cante

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