Rewiring Consent: Data Visualization and Social Justice

Rewiring Consent: Data Visualization and Social Justice

A promotional banner of IDAH's Spring programming: Rewiring Consent

Nov 10, 2017 update: Allegations of sexual assault have recently been leveled against Franco Moretti by a former graduate student. The allegations initially published on Facebook and reported by the Stanford Daily Student indicate that the Title IX officer who took the graduate student's verbal report recommended against filing an official report. Moretti refuted the allegations in an email to Stanford Politics. Stanford University responded to the allegations via a spokesperson who noted the University's concern and intent to review the report. Because of the nature of the Rewiring Consent programming for IDAH's 2016-2017 speaker series, we will continue to update this page as necessary.

February 7th, 2017

Three Workshops and A Critical Symposium hosted by IDAH

Throughout the Spring Semester the Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities is offering a series of workshops and discussions that aim to address how highly charged, incomplete, and politically complex information is turned (or fails to turn) into data. Using IU’s Title IX and Clery Campus Security Reports, we mean to ask and answer the following questions:

  • How does the digital visualization of information persuade, enfranchise, mystify, or mislead its readers?
  • How does it change the way we feel about facts and numbers? How does it shape our social view?
  • How can it serve the aesthetic and critical missions of the Arts and Humanities?
  • How can we use it to effect change?


The current political administration has indicated its commitment to rolling back federally-mandated Equal Rights protections, including Title IX. Defenders of this anti-discriminatory legislation often point to Title IX data to argue the need for federal intervention. Yet recent stinging critiques of the digital humanities, such as “Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities” in this summer’s LARB, argue that digital practices conceal the personal, precarious, and unpredictable nature of lived experience. Taking our cue from IDAH and Patten Lecture events with recent Patten lecturer Franco Moretti, and in particular his 2007 work on Abstract Models for Literary History, we wish put to the test the assumption that human subjectivity makes poor data for GRAPHS, MAPS and (decision) TREES. In the process we hope to open up platforms for identifying and exploring new lines of inquiry in the arts and humanities.


Each workshop will explore the expressive potential of a particular system of digital representation by using it to model a pre-selected Title IX-related data set. Participants will be offered

  1. an expert lesson in a given software application
  2. some open playtime
  3. a concluding ‘outtakes’ conversation on classroom use (for faculty and graduate students) and critical/creative expression (for students and scholars).

A word about Participants:

The workshops are intended for all members of the University community. IU faculty and students at all ranks are welcome to join any and all workshops. No prior experience using any of the applications is necessary.

For Faculty:

Beyond the workshops, IDAH will offer consulting hours to faculty and graduate students who want to develop pedagogical or research uses for the applications we demonstrate. We will also make available webographies or bibliographies to support further inquiry and critique.

For Students:

To encourage repeat participation, undergraduates who complete all three workshops will receive a book prize at the conclusion of the series. Students will also have the opportunity to exhibit their work during the Gallery Walk in April.

Workshop Curriculum:

MAPS with Theresa Quill (Libraries)

A hands-on workshop in ESRI StoryMaps
February 17th from 1-2:30 pm in Hazelbaker Lecture Hall (Wells Library, East Tower)

Most victims of sexual assault do not file a report. In this workshop, we will reconfigure the flowchart of the filing process found in IU’s Title IX Report into a campus map in order to make this action more envisionable and therefore (possibly) more feasible. Along the way we will consider how to represent non-locational information in GIS and explore what maps tend to highlight or omit in the trajectories we wish to represent.

TREES with Allen Riddell (Informatics)

A hands-on workshop in Twine
March 29th at 3 in Hazelbaker Lecture Hall (Wells Library, East Tower)

Twine is the open-source interactive fiction platform that rose to national attention as the format of Depression Quest, the target of GamerGate. This workshop will ask participants to try out Twine’s decision tree structure in order to schematize the legal experience of launching a sexual assault case. Doing so will require us to take into account the degree to which the ‘player’ in such a scenario can control the game’s action or flow. We will conclude by discussing how the affordances of a choice-based story app can illuminate conditions in which agency and intention are restricted.

GRAPHS with Kalani Craig (History) 

A hands-on workshop using Google Spreadsheets and Google Fusion
April 14th 10a to 11:30 in Hazelbaker Lecture Hall (Wells Library, East Tower)

Bar charts and scatterplots are a feature of administrative reports and journalistic reporting. Often they are gorgeous to look at. But to what degree are they legible? How well do they serve humanist arguments? How do we account for their aesthetic effects? In this workshop, Clery records of campus assault will be plotted on campus climate information extracted from IU’s Twitter stream. On the one hand, our mission will be to evaluate what should count as correlative or causal information. On the other, we will consider what happens when a crime is subsumed within a probabilistic exercise.

Symposium: Graham Roberts (New York Times) | Jacqueline Wernimont (Director of the Nexus Lab, Arizona State University)

The culminating conversation will happen in two parts in April.

Graham Roberts (April TBA) is Senior Graphics Editor at the New York Times and leader of its immersive visual storytelling initiative. He is a five-time Emmy nominee, and his recent work includes a collaboration with NASA, titled Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart (NYTVR Project).

Jacqueline Wernimont (April 27) is a specialist in feminist digital media, histories of quantification, and technologies of commemoration. She is a collaborator on such multidisciplinary digital projects as the Eugenic Rubicon—a historical data and storytelling project that documents forced sterilizations in 1930s California; Vibrant Lives—an arts and performance-based collaboration which seeks to literally embody the data we use and shed; and Center for Solutions to Online Violence —an initiative that provides rapid response to the harassment of women and feminists of all genders.

With responses from IU Faculty Justin Garcia (Gender Studies), Amy Gonzales (Media School), and Rebekah Sheldon (English). Reception to follow.

Jacque Wernimont and IU Faculty
April 28