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[BOOK CLUB] The Meaning of the Digital Humanities by Alan Liu

Alan Liu

In the above article, discussed by the CODEC reading group this week, Liu argues that the problem of meaning in the digital humanities registers the crisis of meaning in the humanities more generally: 

“My thesis is that an understanding of the digital humanities can only rise to the level of an explanation if we see that the underlying issue is the disciplinary identity not of the digital humanities but of the humanities themselves. For the humanities, the digital humanities exceed (though they include) the functional role of instrument or service, the pioneer role of innovator, the ensemble role of an ‘additional field’, and even such faux-political roles assigned to new fields as challenger, reformer, and (less positively) fifth column. This is because the digital humanities also have a symbolic role. In both their promise and their threat, the digital humanities serve as a shadow play for a future form of the humanities that wishes to include what contemporary society values about the digital without losing its soul to other domains of knowledge work that have gone digital to stake their claim to that society” (410).

(19 Mar 2015) » More about The Meaning of the Digital Humanities

Preaching the Psalms - 21 February 2015


On Saturday 21 February, 84 delegates arrived at Haughton House from various parts of the north east to be part of a day on Preaching the Psalms which St John’s College, Durham University was hosting. The day was organised by CODEC's Research Fellow for Preaching and Imagination Rev Dr Kate Bruce and is part of her series on ‘Preaching’. The day was led by three outstanding speakers. 

(18 Mar 2015) » More about Preaching the Psalms Event

Introducing The Portal Project

Bric-a-Brac (needs sorting), via Kevin Utting on Flickr

CODEC was recently commissioned by the Jerusalem Trust to set up an online site for discipleship resources, which will host a broad range of materials from across the spectrum of British Christianity. We know that there are lots of great resources out there, but it can be very difficult for individuals and groups to find high-quality materials that are suitable for their context. We plan to be the first place that Christians from all kinds of churches in the UK will come to in order to find resources to use as they seek to grow and develop in their faith.

(19 Feb 2015) » More about The Portal Project

BOOK CLUB: How We Think by Katherine Hayles

Book Cover: How We Think

This week the CODEC team focused upon the third chapter of Katherine Hayle’s How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The third chapter focuses upon ‘How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine’, and certainly gave us lots to chew on.

Initial comments were that we liked what was written, but found the emphasis on all the negative reports about digital as frustrating. An oft heard argument is that our reading is worse ‘because of digital things’, and some members of the team felt that there were broader cultural factors at work rather than solely technological factors. There was agreement that the forms of technology may be changing the manner of reading, as we referring to the ‘F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content’, noting that the further a user scolls, the more eye attention tends to drop off. On p.66, Hayles noted that “Canny web designers use this information to craft web pages, and reading such web pages further intensifies this mode of reading” – so in a self-reinforcing manner, as this form of reading becomes common, more people write for it, so it becomes more common. 

(4 Feb 2015) » More about Katherine Hayles 'How We Think'

NEWS: New CODEC Branding


If you keep half an eye on CODEC you might have noticed a few changes that have been happening over the last few months. First up was our designation as a Research Centre of Durham University, then shortly after that came the addition of three new staff members (you can read up all about these events on our blog here).

Well, I’m glad to officially introduce our latest change: the new CODEC branding (including a video).

(8 Dec 2014) » More about New CODEC Branding

BOOK CLUB: Defining Digital Humanities

Terras Book Cover

Back in October the CODEC team discussed Melissa Terras’ inaugural professorial lecture on digital humanities, whilst this week we focused on the associated book Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader (Ashgate, 2013) edited by Terras, Nyhan, Vanhoutte. We focused upon the introduction (pp1-7), and a series of definitions of ‘digital humanities’, covering the years 2009 to 2012 (pp279-297).

Discussions started with a questioning of which of the definitions most resonated with members of the CODEC team, seeking to clarify that what CODEC is doing is actually “digital humanities”. Bearing in mind that the text indicates that “we make no attmpt to imply that one view is more correct than another, nor do we believe this to be the case” (p279), it is unsurprising that there were a range of views. Digital humanities allows us to pursue questions humanists have always pursued, but faster and on a larger scale; it allows us to focus on digital culture, including cyberculture and posthumanism; and other projects allow us to create new online materials for future use.

(7 Dec 2014) » More about Defining Digital Humanities

PRESS RELEASE Transformative Church Technology: CODEC Travels to Finland

Pete Phillips giving keynote in Finland

Durham researchers travelled to snowy Finland to explore transformative technology with potential for use within the worldwide church.

Peter Phillips and David Stout, two members of Durham University’s CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology, recently travelled to Joensuu to visit the University of Eastern Finland.

(5 Dec 2014) » More about CODEC Travels to Finland

KEYNOTE Transforming Humanity with Pete Phillips #CNMAC14

Rev Dr Pete Phillips speaking at CNMAC14

The prospect of designer babies, genetically enhanced athletes, human clones and transhumanism all raise huge ethical questions and challenge our concept of what it means to be human.

Watch this 10 minute keynote from CODEC Director, Dr Pete Phillips, at the Christian New Media Conference 2014

(3 Dec 2014) » More about CNMAC14

BLOG: How accurate is research drawn from Social Media Data???

Question Mark

There is a really good piece of research in the Telegraph today which raises serious questions about the use of social media in quantitative research. The article is based on research done by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and McGill University in Montreal. The key argument is that the bias towards specific age groups and social profiles of different social media platforms is rarely corrected within the datasets which are drawn from them.

(28 Nov 2014) » More about Beware of reading too much into Social Media-based Quantitative Data!

BOOK CLUB: Discusses Funding in Higher Education

Clay Shirky (via Wikipedia)

Today the book club met and discussed three pieces I (Josh) selected, none of which came from a book(!), as it happens:

(1) Clay Shirky, “The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age” (from Shirky’s blog). Jan 2014

(2) John Warner, “Clay Shirky Comes Not to Praise Education, but to Bury It” (online Inside Higher Ed).

(3) Simon Head, “The Grim Threat to British Universities”. (online, The New York Review of Book, 2010).

(18 Nov 2014) » More about Book Club - Funding in Higher Education

EVENT: Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible

Book Cover

CODEC's Research Fellow in Digital Discipleship and Curator for the Discipleship Portal Project, Dr Marika Rose, will be responding to Catherine Keller, Professor of Constructive Theology at the Theological School, Drew University, placing Keller's work into dialogue with her own interests. 

(18 Nov 2014) » More about Marika responding to Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible

PUBLICATION: Review in Political Theology

Journal Cover

Dr Marika Rose had a review of Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism. By Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey W. Robbins. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 181 pp. £51. ISBN: 978-1-137-26892-1 (hbk) published in the journal Political Theology

(17 Nov 2014) » More about Review in Political Theology

MEDIA: Rev Dr Pete Phillips on Bible Reading in the UK

UCB Logo

A month ago, Pete was asked to go on UCB Christian Radio and discuss ebooks and Bible reading with the presenter Paul Hammond. We've just been able to get hold of the interview in MP3 format.

(13 Oct 2014) » More about Rev Dr Pete Phillips on Bible Reading in the UK

MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis Should McCann Twitter abuser have been doorstepped on TV?

Screenshot of The Conversation

Dr Bex Lewis was asked to write a piece for 'The Conversation' (Academic Rigour, Journalistic Flair) on the death of Brenda Leyland related to 'trolling' of the McCanns. 

(7 Oct 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis Should McCann Twitter abuser have been doorstepped on TV? on The Conversation

BOOK CLUB: Understanding Digital Humanities

Understanding Digital Humanities by David Berry

The CODEC team have initiated a bookclub which meets every other Tuesday lunchtime. Recently I was asked to pick the reading for the first meeting and then to write up the conversation afterwards in the form of a blog post. Sadly, so much is happening in CODEC at the moment that I have only just got round to writing this post.

(3 Oct 2014) » More about Book Club

MEDIA: Marika Rose 'Is it Wrong to Seek Miracles?'

Premier Radio Logo

Dr Marika Rose is discussion with Charlynne Boddie and Maria Rodrigues, on Premier's Woman to Woman show, sharing their thoughts on the miraculous.

(16 Sep 2014) » More about Marika Rose on Premier Christian Radio discussing miracles

NEWS: CODEC welcomes new staff to the team


Over the summer, CODEC some fun interviewing a host of excellent candidates for the new posts made available through the research grants awarded to us last Spring. The three successful candidates are now in post.

(5 Sep 2014) » More about New Staff

NEWS: CODEC designated as a Research Centre of Durham University


CODEC has been designated as a Research Centre of the University of Durham, hosted by the world-renowned Department of Theology and Religion, and within the Faculty of Arts.

What does that mean? Well, it means that our ground-breaking research, our passion for networking and our brilliant staff are recognised within the university as offering a leading role in developing the new field of Digital Theology. It means that we have more confidence in approaching Research Councils, knowing that we are part of one of the UK’s top five universities and one of the top 100 universities in the world. It means we can hopefully secure more funding to do some more great work.

(3 Sep 2014) » More about CODEC designated research centre

EVENT: Greenbelt 2014

Greenbelt Handrawn image

The CODEC team was invited to participate in 'full force' at Greenbelt 2014, running a morning worship session each morning, focusing on discipleship (Dr Bex Lewis), gaming (Dr Tim Hutchings and Dr Marika Rose) and cyber-humanity (Rev Dr Pete Phillips). 

(1 Sep 2014) » More about Greenbelt 2014

EVENT: CODEC Participating in Spiritus North-East, an Ecumenical Event

Spiritus Logo

CODEC is a Research Centre of the University of Durham exploring the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture. We want to see how the contemporary world interacts with the world of the theology and religion - particularly the Christian faith story. We will be occupying a suite of rooms in Pemberton Hall for the day of Spiritus14. You can find out more about what we do, and we will be offering interactivity in the form of conversation, a discussion board, face-to-face conversation, and some sugar - as well as the following workshops and social media surgery: 

(20 Aug 2014) » More about Spiritus North-East

MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis offers 'GodSlots' for UCB Media

UCB Logo

Dr Bex Lewis prepared one minute 'Godslots' for UCB Media, to be played frequently across the radio station for at least 6 weeks from w/c 4th August 2014.

(18 Jul 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis offers 'GodSlots' for UCB Media

MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis on 'In Good Company' with Jeff Lucas and Ruth Dearnley

Premier Logo

Dr Bex Lewis is the core guest on this "Laid back chat show where guests are interviewed about their life ministry and their faith journey", particularly related to her book Raising Children in a Digital Age

(29 Jun 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis on 'In Good Company' with Jeff Lucas and Ruth Dearnley


Work Icon

CODEC are pleased to invite applications for three new posts within this exciting and pioneering Research Project based at St John’s College in the University of Durham. CODEC are looking for:

  • Curator for the Digital Discipleship Project (full-time, Grade 6)
  • Research Fellow in Digital Resources (full-time, Grade 6)
  • Research Fellow in Biblical Literacy (full-time, Grade 6)

(27 Jun 2014) » More about New Jobs

NEWS: Call for Papers for Transforming Theology Stream #CNMAC14

CNMAC14 Theme Logo
CODEC are putting together the Theology Strand of the Christian New Media Conference in London on 1st November, 2014. 
The theme of the whole conference is: Transformers. 
The four theology sessions are going to run as follows:

(10 Jun 2014) » More about #CNMAC theology strand

PRESS RELEASE: £700k boost for research into faith & digital culture


A leading research centre looking at the interaction of faith and our increasingly digital society has been awarded £700,000 to continue its work into the relationship between the Church and today’s digital culture.

The funding will enable the CODEC research project at St John’s College, Durham University, to develop its exciting and important research into the impact of digital culture on both the academic study of theology and the daily life of the Church.

(20 May 2014) » More about £700k awarded

MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in the Church Times

Screenshot Back Page of Church Times

Dr Bex Lewis was interviewed for the much sought-after slot of the back page of the Church Times, as her book Raising Children in a Digital Age continues to do well. 

(9 May 2014) » More about MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in the Church Times

MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in Daily Telegraph

Telegraph Article (in paper form)

Dr Bex Lewis is the focus of a half-page article in the Daily Telegraph weekend regarding her new book Raising Children in a Digital Age, insisting that “It’s a landscape with so much to offer young people if only you show them how to use it properly."

(15 Feb 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis features in Daily Telegraph

MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis 'Big Guest' on Steve Wright in the Afternoon

Screenshot Bex Lewis on Steve Wright

Dr Bex Lewis chats to Steve Wright and the team about her new book Raising Children In A Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst as part of Safer Internet Day 2014. 

(11 Feb 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis as 'Big Guest' on Steve Wright in the Afternoon

PRESS RELEASE: Getting Creative, Getting Social: Responding to Poems for Lent” #BIGRead14, February 2014

BIGRead14 Logo

Lent is a journey that moves us toward the Cross”. So says one of many Pinterest images spilling through my feed today. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter with fasting, repentance and spiritual discipline, focusing some of that energy into reflecting upon the life and death of Jesus. The BIGRead14 is back for its fifth year, and inviting people to share in that discipleship journey through small groups, and in online conversations, focused around Stephen Cherry’s Barefoot Prayers, a collection of poem-prayers designed to stimulate meditative thinking.

(4 Feb 2014) » More about #BIGRead14