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About Us

Stanford Text Technologies is directed by Elaine Treharne, Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and Robert K. Packard University Fellow in Undergraduate Education

Research Focus

What do Babylonian Cuneiform Tablets, Medieval Parchment Manuscripts, and an iPhone have in common? What can past technologies of text teach us about early writers and readers? What trends and cycles can we discern in the long history of information technologies? What is the relationship of writing and power? How can we assure that the voices of the marginalized, the silent, the 'ordinary', and especially the BIPOC person finally get heard? Text Technologies undertakes ambitious and innovative research in the long history of TEXT from the earliest period of human communication to the present day and on a global scale. Our research combines two flourishing areas—The History of the Book and Digital Humanities—to form the first integrated research hub of its kind.
Stanford Text Technologies will focus on the technologies of TEXT in manuscript, print, and digital forms, including inscription, graffiti, books, documents and ephemera, oral narratives, and social media. We investigate historic technologies alongside developments from c.1900 onwards, with a particular focus on today’s digital environment. We ask what patterns are common to the lives of all tools, substrates, writing systems, and forms of use; we develop computational tools and methods to investigate large datasets, like manuscripts' decorated initials; and we examine the human motivation to record and be remembered.

Disciplinary Diversity

Using different media, methods and tools, Stanford Text Technologies explores the disciplinary and social diversity of TEXT. This enterprise is a leader in this critical scholarship at the most important transformative moment in text technologies in the last five hundred years. The technologies we investigate are from all areas of the world, and include Indigenous and Aboriginal modes of communication, and texts in all languages.

Specialist projects

Specialist projects of Text Technologies:

  • CyberText Technologies uncovers the trends in the life cycles of historic text technologies from all over the world to predict the future of new devices for communication;
  • global manuscripts and early printed books will be thework of the East-West Text Technologies Project;
  • the discovery of medieval information retrieval tools form the research of the Stanford NEH-funded ‘Global Currents’ team;
  • the long history of the manuscript forms the focus of the International ManuscriptTechnologies Forum (ManuTexts)
  • and SOPES (Stanford Ordinary People Extra Ordinary Stories) recovers the stories of previously unknown individuals from their textual remants, collected for the project.