The Department of English launches a digital humanities laboratory (DHLab)
The Department of English of the Faculty of Arts successfully launched a digital humanities laboratory (DHLab) on the 16th of September, 2022 as a hybrid event for onsite and online invitees. Gracing the occasion were the Acting Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Chandana Aluthge who is also the Director of the University’s AHEAD Operational Technical Secretariat, and Prof. Thusitha Abeytunga, Lead Academic Expert (RDI) of the AHEAD Operations and Management Support Team. The DHLab is a virtual research space that offers opportunities for exploring the intersection of English Studies and digital humanities for students, teachers, and researchers. The DHLab is an initiative launched as a component of a Development Oriented Research (DOR) Project of the Department of English (2019-2022), funded by the Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Operation through the World Bank. The Department of English won this competitive grant in 2019.
The DHLab opens up possibilities of research and learning, bringing together English studies and the digital with a focus on exploring sociocultural contexts in Sri Lanka. At present, the Department of English’s DHLab is the only online platform that hosts language corpora, digitized literary works, products of digital storytelling, and a working paper series. The Sri Lanka English Newspaper Corpus (SLENC) of approximately 32-million words which was compiled with support from the AHEAD-DOR grant as well as other corpora of Sri Lankan Englishes are accessible via the DHLab. The Digitizing Literature component features a collection of award-winning creative writing in English from Sri Lanka and provides links to supplementary material such as critical essays. The Digital Storytelling and Performance component presents and interrogates the concepts of spectatorship and narrative performance through a critical lens. The working paper series aims to be a creative web-based publication that supports the sharing of interdisciplinary research which explores the possibilities offered by the digital in the disciplines of social science and humanities.
The launch also featured the screening of four short films shot by the student finalists of the Mobile Short Film Project, using smartphones. Anomaa Rajakaruna was the lead resource person during the pre-and post-production stages of this project. Professor Chandana Aluthge commended the Department of English’s efforts in establishing a DHLab, describing the content of the student-directed films as “thought-provoking” and the DHLab as giving students the opportunity to go “beyond the classroom” and providing “the space to use their imaginations in a very creative and innovative way.”
To learn more about the DHLab, please visit dhlab.cmb.ac.lk.