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Abstract: What is feminist data science? How is feminist thinking being incorporated into data-driven work? And how are humanities scholars, in particular, bringing together data science and feminist theory in their research? Drawing from my recent book, Data Feminism (MIT Press), co-authored with Catherine D’Ignazio, I will present a set of principles for doing data science that are informed by the past several decades of intersectional feminist activism and critical thought. In order to illustrate these principles, as well as some of the ways that humanities scholars have begun to put them into action, I will discuss a range of recent research projects including several of my own: 1) a thematic analysis of a large corpus of nineteenth-century newspapers that reveals the invisible labor of women newspaper editors; 2) the development of a model of lexical semantic change that, when combined with network analysis, tells a new story about Black activism in the nineteenth-century United States; and 3) the design and fabrication of a large-scale haptic data visualization, inspired by a forgotten historical visualization scheme, that suggests new possibilities for visualization design. Taken together, these examples demonstrate how feminist thinking can be operationalized into more ethical, more intentional, and more capacious data practices, in the humanities and beyond.
Lauren Klein is an associate professor in the departments of English and Quantitative Theory & Methods at Emory University, where she also directs the Digital Humanities Lab. Before moving to Emory, she taught in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. Klein works at the intersection of digital humanities, data science, and early American literature, with a research focus on issues of gender and race. She is the author of An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and, with Catherine D’Ignazio, Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020). With Matthew K. Gold, she edits Debates in the Digital Humanities, a hybrid print-digital publication stream that explores debates in the field as they emerge. Her work has appeared in leading humanities journals including PMLA, American Literature, and American Quarterly; and at technical conferences including NACCL, EMNLP, and IEEE VIS. Her work has been supported by grants from the NEH and the Mellon Foundation.