You are here:

In the early 1980s, officers from HM Customs raided Gay’s the Word bookshop, Bloomsbury, seizing over 140 titles and charging staff with conspiracy to import so-called ‘indecent or obscene’ material. Using the Haud Nominandum collection at Senate House Library -- the personal library of Gay’s the Word director Jonathan Cutbill -- this workshop invites participants to take a closer look at copies of these seized books and to consider some of the many different ways they might be read today.

This workshop aims to introduce methods for digital text analysis and initiate a critical discussion at the intersection of sexuality, language technology, and artificial intelligence. We will begin with a gentle introduction to digital text analysis. In this hands-on session, we focus on the digitized Cutbill collection and demonstrate how digital tools have opened up new ways of exploring texts that go beyond the traditional linear process of reading from the first page to the last. Specifically, we will delve into text collections of various scales and showcase how transitioning between 'close' and 'distant' reading can offer new forms of interpretation.

In conclusion, we will engage in a collective experiment that delves into the interplay between language technology, artificial intelligence, and sexuality. We will explore questions such as: How does sexuality manifest in current generative models like ChatGPT? To what extent do these technologies introduce new forms of censorship or produce harmful language? What norms and concepts of indecency are imposed by these technologies? Can we draw parallels between the Customs raid and contemporary technologies?

This event is in-person. There will be a 30 minute break halfway through the workshop. The workshop location includes accessible toilets, step-free access, and is wheelchair accessible. Please contact the organiser regarding specific access requirements. 

The event is co-hosted by the Digital Humanities Research Hub and Senate House Library, which is a member of the Queer Heritage and Collections Network

All welcome

This event is free to attend, but booking is required.