Distant History as Embodied Experience

An overarching rhetorical strategy involves the juxtaposition of closeness and distance. Scholarly presentation and exchange has most often relied on mediation through or even translation into the visual, particularly the written word. Tapping other sense experiences can bring new immediacy as the term “total immersion” implies. Scholars who explore the senses, for example Constance Classen and Elizabeth Harvey, point to the added closeness and depth potential of sensations received by sense organs other than the eyes or even the ears. Digital innovations will enable more fully somatic multisensory experiences. At the same moment, transported back into history, participants may likewise take advantage of emotional detachment or dispassionateness for the sake of analysis.

Science and Aesthetics as Rhetorical Tools

The cognitive appeal of scientific observation and the attraction of aesthetic presentation may function as rhetorical tools to engage social issues. We wish to avoid some of the pitfalls of collaborative projects that are conceived with an expensive set of scientific experiments as their core, complemented by a public component that is tacked on, symplified through aesthetically appealing photography, or rounded out by superficial social commentary.

Neuroscience and Humanities

We hope that virtual-reality (re)construction might allow neurohumanists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, and pharmacologists to study the affects of sensory stimuli: e.g.vocal music, motion, brightly colored stained glass, candle light, the redolence of incense, the aroma of spices or the effect of naturally occurring psychoactive substances, also various combinations of the above, within a historical setting.

New Media, New Messages

Technologies of the past have changed dramatically the ways in which the histories of music, theater, dance and the visual arts are practiced. For example, recording technologies including still imaging, moving pictures, animations, and combinations of audio and visual recording have changed forever our modes of perception and analysis. The scope of the research, questions posed, strategies of argumentation, and methodologies followed have all changed as media for representation and exchange have developed.