Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: April 29, 2022, 6:34 a.m. Humanist 35.670 - pubs: Technology and Language

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 670.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-04-28 09:17:39+00:00
        From: Alfred Nordmann <alfrednordmann@GMX.DE>
        Subject: Call for Contributions - Technology and Language

The sixth issue of "Technology and Language" has now appeared, and with
it a new call for contributions that appeals generally to philosophy and
history of technology, linguistics and engineering education, literary
scholars and art historians.

Guest-edited by CHENG Lin, "The Construction of the Robot in Language
Culture" explores the history of a term that was introduced a little
over 100 years ago by Czech author Karel Capek. Several papers analyze
the pre-history and reception of the term that was simply translated as
"worker" in Soviet Russia but became a new kind of thing, namelly a
"robot" in many other languages. Two interviews with Japanese robotics
engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro and with German philosopher Markus Gabriel
follow up on a previous encounter of theirs. Mark Coeckelbergh's 2011
paper "You, robot: on the linguistic construction of artificial others”
has prompted six responses and a reply to his critics by Mark Coeckelbergh.

New Call for Contributions:

The first issue of 2023 (Deadline January 5, 2023) will be an open issue
and invites papers that expand the scope of topics to include issues of
science and fiction, technologies of writing and printing, the literary
and artistic treatment of technological catastrophes. Always invited are
papers that explore the expressive qualities of technical design: how do
prototypes as well as archaeological artefacts speak to us? Any
interdisciplinary exploration in English or Russian at the interface of
technology and language is welcome. Other ongoing calls for forthcoming

-- Instructions: Do technical processes unfold as instructed in that
they execute a program or in that their parts perform prescribed
motions? But what is a program anyhow, be it a computer program or the
program of a musical concert or a wedding - or is the notion of
‚instruction‘ too narrow here? Can the blueprint for a device be
compared to the notation of a choreography? Inversely, do technologies
instruct the behavior of users in that they establish a script which
users need to follow? - And what is instruction in the first place: Does
the case, for example, of language instruction follow a technical
paradigm as well? (Guest editors: Jens Geisse and Marcel Siegler)

-- Republication and critical discussion of Nicholas Berdyaev's 1933
essay "Humanity and the Machine" and related texts. Throughout the years
and also most recently, the question of Russian vs. European thought has
been at issue: How real or imagined, and how deep is this antagonism as
it regards the development of technology? With Berdyaev, the
Biocosmists, and others, this also concerns the philosophy of technology
in ways that need to be understood.

-- Technologies in a Multilingual World: Technological creativity has
been described as active adaptation to the world. What if this world is
a multilingual world - an environment in which we are surrounded by a
multiplicity of languages and codes, more than anyone can produce or
understand but which have to be navigated nonetheless? Aside from all
the „natural languages“ such as the many variants of spoken, written, or
signed English and all the pidgins and local dialects, these include the
language of the ticketing-machine as well as the language of powerpoint,
the language of traffic signs as well as technologically enhanced
communication means known as augmentative and alternative communication.

-- Mimesis and Composition - Anthropological Perspectives on Technology
and Art (Deadline September 12, 2022): The making of a humanly built
world involves many ways of weaving and drawing things together, of
joining and splitting, molding and fitting. These invite perspectives
from archaeology, cultural  and cognitive anthropology, history and
philosophy of technology, art theory, media studies, and STS. Mimesis
and composition are two, perhaps complementary principles of artful
production in technology and the arts. Mimesis seeks patterns for
imitation and repetition, creating affective routines somewhat as
rituals or games do. Composition refers to a grammar of things. In
painting and poetry, music and photography, in mechanical and software
engineering composition appears inventive and “natural” at once as one
finds the right way of putting things together. This complementarity can
be discerned in processes or making and building but also in patterns of
use and the linguistic production of representations. And when it is
said that we became human by virtue of technology, what are the
pertinent modes of production, what kinds of thinking and social
practice is implicated in mimetic and compositional tinkering, makingand
building, speaking, signing and writing? (Guest editors: Natascha
Adamowsky and Fabio Grigenti)

Queries, suggestions, and submissions can be addressed to or to Daria Bylieva ( and Alfred
Nordmann (

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