Please write a scholarly essay in response to ONE of the following Call for Proposals (CFPs). The language in each of these three options below was taken from a real CFP that was posted within the last five years, though I have made some minor adjustments to reflect our current course assignment.

Please note that a CFP is meant to cast a wide net: usually, the organizers are looking for dozens (or hundreds) of conference presenters, or maybe a handful of chapters for a new anthology. The description is meant to inspire and provoke. It should give you a big umbrella under which you should organize your specific thoughts and ideas. Your response should relate to the CFP, but it should not address everything mentioned in the CFP.

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For this assignment, you will want to tailor your response to relate to our course materials and discussions. That is, at the heart of your essay, you are writing about some aspect of big data. However, you should feel free to include all the materials we have used this semester and/or relevant materials from other CMA/CDM courses. You may use any genre for your essay (argument, rhetorical analysis, etc), but your essay should be more than a simple report.

Technical specifications for our assignment include:

  • Give your paper an interesting title.
  • Indicate which CFP you are responding to (this can be part of your title or subtitle, or you can simply include it in the header information with your name, date, and so on.)
  • The final paper should be between 1300 to 1500 words (approximately 4 to 6 pages), not including your Works Cited or References page.
  • Rely on Big Data and Weapons of Math Destruction as one of your primary sources.
  • Supplement your paper with at least three additional sources. (So you will have a total of at least four sources minimum.)
  • Document your paper appropriately. You may use APA or MLA formatting, but you must be consistent with the format you choose.
  • Be sure to include your name, an interested title, and page numbers. Use standard font and margin settings. Please double-space.

Please upload your final paper to the assignment link on Canvas. Check the syllabus for the due date.


This assignment seeks to address the opportunities and challenges humanistic scholars face with the ubiquity and exponential growth of new web-based data sources (e.g. electronic texts, social media, and audiovisual materials) and digital methods (e.g. information visualization, text markup, crowdsourcing metadata).

“Big data” is any dataset that is too large to be analyzable with traditional means (whether e.g. manual close readings or database queries). Developments in cloud computing, data management, and analytics mean that humanists and allied scholars can analyze and visualize larger patterns in big data sets. With these opportunities come the challenges of scale and interpretation; we have moved from the uncertainty resulting from having too little data to the uncertainty implicit in large amounts of data.

What does this mean for how humanists structure, query, analyze and visualize data? How does this change the questions we ask and the interpretations we assign? How do we combine the best of a macro (larger-pattern) and a micro (close reading) approach? And how is interpretative and other uncertainty modeled?

Language taken from https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/46286


This assignment is focused on generating provocative work that questions the nature of structural systems of knowledge, power, capital, and the political potential of culture in everyday life.

Examine the political and cultural ramifications of the “big data” movement, and consider the implications, consequences, and challenges facing the humanities and humans as we wade through the wake of big data. The dawn of big data raises a number of questions for humanities scholars: What problems arise when we accept data as objective? How will large quantities of data transform human communication and culture? What are the ideological outcomes of the big data movement? How will large quantities of data transform human communication and culture?

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Ecocritical approaches to big data
    • Big data and the public sphere/private sphere
    • Implications of big data on concepts of rationality
    • Implications of big data for the digital humanities
    • Big data and the death of the Real
    • Implications of wildlife record keeping
    • Reconstructing the sovereign through big data
    • Big history and the Anthropocene
    • Big data and gene technology
    • Postcolonialism through the eyes of big data
    • Close readings of big data or big data and literary studies?
    • Consequences of big data on surveillance
  • Language taken from https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/61355

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