Technology, Cognition, and Culture Lecture Series

In collaboration with the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology (K2I), and the Office of the University Librarian, the Humanities Research Center has sponsored the 'TCC' lecture series since 2001. This cross-campus collaboration hosts some of the most forward-thinking intellectuals whose visions extend beyond the boundaries of culture, knowledge, and technology. Visiting speakers trace the evolution of information technologies and their influence on civilization, exploring the passage from oral to written, from manuscript to print, and from print to electronic communication and the global network that instantaneously transmits words, numbers, ideas, and images to all corners of the earth.  

Technology, Cognition, and Culture Lecture: The Emerging Research Environment & the Digital Public Library of America
Dan Cohen, Executive Director, Digital Public Library of America
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

 A new environment for scholarly research is emerging out of the steady accumulation of digitized sources over the last two decades, contemporary models for accessing those sources, and novel methods for searching, sorting, and mining them in ways that forge new connections and enhance serendipity. With a look at the Digital Public Library of America’s approach to research and discovery, Cohen will survey today’s and tomorrow’s electronic landscape.

Dan Cohen is the Founding Executive Director of the DPLA, where he works to further the DPLA’s mission to make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.

David Shaffer, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Engineering the Future of Education
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 

Dr. Shaffer looks at the future of education through the lens of two decades of research and development of educational games and simulations. His talk shows how the spread of digital tools frame both the challenges and solutions to the problems of education in a time of cognitive, social, and economic change. David Williamson Shaffer is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the departments of Educational Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction, and a Game Scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. He is the chief PI on the Epistemic Games grants.

Before coming to the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Shaffer taught grades 4-12 in the United States and abroad, including two years working with the Asian Development Bank and US Peace Corps in Nepal. His M.S. and Ph.D. are from the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he taught in the Technology and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Shaffer studies how new technologies change the way people think and learn. His particular area of interest is in the development of epistemic games: computer and video games in which players become professionals to develop innovative and creative ways of thinking.

David Wessel, Professor of Music, UC-Berkeley
Interaction Design and the Active Experience of Music
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Music search engines, play list generators, streaming audio, and portable players have taken much of the focus of music technology. The emphasis is on delivery, and experiencing music is by playback - playback while jogging, while working about the house, and even while studying. In this talk, in the hope of providing an antidote, Wessel will examine the role of bodily action in the experience of music and the importance of human computer interaction design in the development of computationally-based musical instruments.

Tim Tangherlini
Professor, UCLA
Maps, Networks, Ghosts and Witches: Experiments in Computational Folklore
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Folklore, which can be defined as informal communication across social networks, has always highlighted the connection between culturally expressive forms and geography. Folklorists ask not only who tells what kind of story to whom, but also how storytelling influences our understanding of the local environment, and how storytelling influences decision making. Do certain types of stories cluster around certain geographic areas? Are these story clusters related to contemporaneous ideological or political debate? Can we discern an ideological bias in a folklorist's field collecting routes? Using a nineteenth century corpus of Danish folklore comprising a quarter of a million stories told by 6,500 named individuals to one individual over the course of fifty years, I explore how the application of various computational techniques, including historical GIS, machine learning and network analysis, to a large Humanities corpus can help reveal patterns in the data that in some cases contest and in some cases confirm existing orthodoxy. This approach is based in part on Franco Moretti's theoretically rich concept of "distant reading". At the end of the presentation, I explore some recent folkloric phenomena, including Twitter networks and the Iranian uprisings of 2009, the narrative response to Hurricane Katrina, and the propagation of stories on Facebook of the rogue trader who typed 1b instead of 1m leading to massive losses on Wall Street in 2010.

About the Speaker
Timothy R. Tangherlini teaches folklore, literature and cultural studies at the University of California, where he is a professor in Scandinavian Section, and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He is also an affiliate of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Religious Studies Program, and a faculty member in the Center for Korean Studies and the Center for European and Eurasian Studies.

He has published widely on folklore, literature, film and critical geography. His main theoretical areas of interest are folk narrative, legend, popular culture, and critical geography. His main geographic areas of interest are the Nordic region (particularly Denmark and Iceland), the United States, and Korea.

His current work focuses on computation and the humanities. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, The Henry Luce Foundation, the American Scandinavian Foundation, and Google.

Jerome McGann
The John Stewart Bryan University Professor and Professor of English, University of Virgnia
What Do Scholars Want?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jerome McGann will discuss the challenges and opportunities that information technology and Internet culture are bringing to the humanities, as well as how he projects they will affect the future of humanities scholarship and education. McGann is the founder of Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship (NINES), and co-editor of a seventeen-volume Rice UP series, "Literature by Design." His book, Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), won the James Russell Lowell Prize.

About the Speaker
Jerome McGann is the John Stewart Bryan University Professor, University of Virginia, and a founding fellow of UVA's Institute for Advanced. He is a leading scholar in fields ranging from 18th century to contemporary literature to the theory of textuality.

Christopher M. Kelty 
Associate Professor, University of California Los Angeles
Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free Software is about more than just software--but what? What is the right way to understand the significance of Free Software and what it has inspired? In this talk I explain why Free Software (a.k.a. open source software) is not just one technology among others, but a crucial example of how people are responding to the changing landscape of power, technology and knowledge creation. In particular I will show how it can be understood as a special kind of "public sphere" central to the cultivation of democratically informed citizens, robust public dialogue, and a new way of understanding the role of technological design in all of this.

Drawing on ethnographic research that have taken me from an Internet healthcare start-up company in Boston to media labs in Berlin to young entrepreneurs in Bangalore, this talk describes the technologies and the moral vision that binds together hackers, geeks, lawyers, and other Free Software advocates. The "cultural significance" of free software extends beyond the narrow case of software, and this talk will touch on some of the ways the practices of free software have been "modulated" in new projects such as Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that creates copyright licenses, and Rice's own Connexions, a project to create an online scholarly textbook commons.

The book on which this talk is based is freely available under a Creative Commons License at

About the Speaker
Christopher M. Kelty is an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a joint appointment in the Center for Society and Genetics and in the department of Information Studies. His research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering. He is the author most recently of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities. He is trained in science studies (history and anthropology) and has also written about methodological issues facing anthropology today.

Genevieve Bell, Ph.D.
Director, User Experience Group, Digital Home Group, Intel Corporation
From the Electrical Fairy to the Magic Box: An Anthropological Account of Invisible Infastructures
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

To most technologists, the term 'wireless' connotes a set of emergent technologies, devices and infrastructures, including but not limited to blue-tooth, 3G, 802.11, WiFI, WIMAX. Language such as speeds and feeds, network traffic, interference, line of sight, security, back-haul, authentication, node traffic, and bay stations embroiders this contemporary understanding of 'wireless.' In this talk, I want to explicitly contrast this techno-centric understanding of wireless with a more anthropologically-located one. Drawing on historical, economic, regulatory, and cultural frameworks, as well as a decade's worth of ethnographic research, here wireless is re-imagined as one of a sequence of invisible infrastructures over the last century, rather than a brand new technology.

About the Speaker
An internationally recognized ethnographer, Genevieve Bell has developed product shaping insights into consumers world-wide and is bringing a research driven, end-user focus to Intel. Her influence has been recognized with the award of Intel's highest honor: an individual Intel Achievement Award. She is a Senior Principal Engineer and the Director of User Experience within Intel's Digital Home Group and manages an inter-disciplinary team of social scientists, designers and human factors engineers. She and her team strive to stay ahead of Intel's technology roadmap, using insights gained for in-depth ethnographic and design research to help drive innovations in and around Intel platforms, creating technology that responds to human needs, desires and aspirations.

Bell is particularly interested in issues of cultural difference as they are expressed around technology adoption and use; she has conducted fieldwork around the world and is currently working on a book based on her recent ethnographic research in Asia. Her work has been widely published and cited and she is active in the fields of anthropology, computer-human interaction and ubiquitous computing.

Raised in Australia, Bell received the bulk of her education in the United States. Prior to joining Intel in 1998, Bell taught anthropology and Native American Studies at Stanford University in California. Bell received her BA/MA in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1991. She earned a PhD in cultural anthropology from
Stanford University in 1998.

Richard Doyle
Professor of Rhetoric and Science, Department of English, Penn State University
Just Say Yes to the Noösphere: Psychedelics and the Evolution of Information Technologies
Monday, October 9, 2006

Before its possession became a criminal offense in the United States, the psychedelic compound LSD-25 was given to engineers and designers to break "creative logjams" and promote innovation in the Cold War United States. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, for example, the Ampex Corporation(inventor of the Video Tape Recorder) studied the effects of LSD on their engineers, and the result was a growing body of literature and data on psychedelic regimens and their effects on technical innovation.

These regimens included precise and intensive algorithms for psychedelic experience such as the epigraph above - although essentially ineffable, psychedelic experience was treated as fundamentally and essentially programmable. This talk will offer an historical, evolutionary and ecological framework for comprehending and evaluating recent claims by innovators such as Mitch Kapor (Lotus, spreadsheets), Mark Pesce (Virtual Reality Markup Language) and Kary Mullis (Polymerase Chain Reaction) that psychedelics played an integral role in the invention of their breakthrough information technologies. Given the importance of programming to psychedelic experience, the talk will suggest that psychedelic adjuncts were useful to engineers and scientists less because they "expanded" consciousness than because they trained subjects in practices of focused attention.

The biological science of attention could be said to be born in Charles Darwin' s model of sexual selection, where Darwin studied the "information technologies" (such as a peacock feather, or human speech) through which organisms signal sexual difference and orient attention toward likely reproductive and survival success. This evolutionary search for attention acts through what the biologist V.I. Vernadksy later dubbed the "noösphere". While the biosphere irreversibly and undeniably altered the lithosphere from which it emerged, the noösphere transforms the biosphere via the gathering and application of attention. While many contemporary designers and engineers seek to "evolve" designs and programs through evolutionary processes, an expanded model of evolution integrating sexual selection and symbiogenesis ( mutualism in evolution) is likely to be even more fruitful for the development, integration and transformation of information technologies.

Paula Moya 
Associate Professor of English, Stanford University
Putting the "Lone Genius" to Rest: Producing Collaborative Knowledge Through Humanities Research Networks
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Over the past five years, Paula M. L. Moya has been a leader in the development of The Future of Minority Studies project (FMS), an inter-institutional, interdisciplinary, and multigenerational research project facilitating focused and productive discussions about the democratizing role of minority identity and participation in a multicultural society. Since its inception, FMS has sponsored dozens of scholarly events and several ongoing research projects involving hundreds of scholars (ranging from undergraduate students to presidents and provosts) who hail from a wide variety of academic institutions all over the world. The most recent publication to emerge from the project, Identity Politics Reconsidered, is forthcoming from Palgrave. In her talk, Moya will discuss the vision behind the project as well as how the rapidly evolving social software available to humanities scholars- email, web-based discussion fora, web pages, text, audio and video chat, shared server space, weblogs, and wiki pages-have shaped and facilitated the growth of this unique collaborative endeavor.

About the Speaker
Paula M. L. Moya is Associate Professor of English at Stanford University, where she recently completed a term as Director of the Undergraduate Program of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), and Chair of the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CSRE) major. Her publications include essays on feminist theory, multicultural pedagogy, race and emotion, and Latina/o and Chicana/o literature and identity. She is the author of Learning from Experience: Minority Identities, Multicultural Struggles (UC Press 2002) and co-editor (with Michael Hames-García) of Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism (UC Press 2000). Another edited volume, Identity Politics Reconsidered, is forthcoming from Palgrave in 2006.

Doug Greenberg
Shoah Foundation
Henry's Harmonica: Memory and History in a Genocidal World
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

This lecture uses the video testimony of one survivor of the Holocaust to explore the interpretive and intellectual issues raised by the archive of the Shoah Foundation, which is electronically available at Rice. The lecture uses video testimony (and its availability in searchable, digital format) to examine genocide and mass murder in comparative context. Comparing the generalizations of scholars with the memories of survivors, the lecture attempts to mediate between history and memory and to expose some of the implications of digital video libraries.

About the Speaker
Douglas Greenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. The Foundation has collected almost 52,000 testimonies of eyewitnesses to the Holocaust in 56 countries and in 32 languages. The Shoah Foundation is now digitizing and cataloguing the testimonies in its archive for use by scholars and educators around the world. The Foundation has also produced 10 documentary films using the testimonies in its collection and creates educational products and programs that are in use in 16 countries and 11,000 schools around the world.

Greenberg came to the Foundation in 2000 from the Chicago Historical Society, where he served as president and director for seven years. Previously he was vice president of the American Council of Learned Societies and associate dean of the faculty at Princeton University. He also taught history at Rutgers, Lawrence, and Princeton Universities and is author or editor many books and essays on the history of early America and American law, his original scholarly fields, as well as on technology, scholarship, and libraries. More recently, he has begun to write and speak about the Holocaust and genocide and their impact upon the modern world.

Greenberg was born in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University in 1969 with Highest Distinction in History. He undertook graduate study in history at Cornell University, receiving his M.A. in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1974. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. He has an honorary doctorate from Lincoln College. Dr. Greenberg has also served on the boards of many non-profit and historical organizations, including the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Latin School of Chicago, and the Research Libraries Group. Currently, he serves on the boards of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the California Council on the Humanities, and the Center for The Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College. He is a member of Editorial Board of Reviews in American History.

Arthur I. Miller
University College of London
The Aesthetic Universe
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Since the beginnings of science aesthetics has served as a guide to explore the universe. The results have been spectacular. Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity have been dramatically verified. Black holes, a figment of the scientist’s mathematical imagination were discovered. What do we mean by aesthetics in science? Why do we believe in an aesthetic or beautiful universe? Is there a relation between aesthetics in art and science? These are among today’s pressing issues I will address. As the great French polymath Henri Poincaré put it: a scientist studies “nature not because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.”

About the Speaker
Arthur I. Miller is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Science & Technology Studies, University College London. Professor Miller has lectured and written extensively on the history and philosophy of nineteenth and twentieth century science and technology, cognitive science, scientific creativity, and the relation between art and science. His latest published book, Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time and the Beauty That Causes Havoc (New York: Basic Books, 2001), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Professor Miller’s recently completed book Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes, is scheduled for publication in 2005 by Little, Brown in the UK and Houghton Mifflin in the USA.

Stephen Murray 
Columbia University
Medieval Architecture and the New Media: Representing and Creating Knowledge in Cyberspace
Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Medieval architecture, equipped with its painted sculpture and colorful stained glass, provided the three-dimensional virtual reality of the Middle Ages. Yet art historians have remained content with traditional means of representation: the printed page, the photograph, the slide shown in the classroom. For more than thirty years I have experimented with a range of ways both to bring the work of architecture to the student and to bring the student to the architecture. I will demonstrate a range of productions, from the presentation in virtual reality of ideas that were formed in an entirely traditional way, to my current project, which involves the interaction of hundreds of Romanesque churches in a fully databased medium.

About the Speaker
Stephen Murray was educated at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1986 and currently serves as Director of the Media Center for Art History, Archaeology & Historic Preservation. His publications include books on the cathedrals of Amiens, Beauvais and Troyes; his current work is on medieval sermons, story-telling in Gothic, and the Romanesque architecture of the Bourbonnais. His field of teaching includes Romanesque and Gothic art, particularly involving the integrated understanding of art and architecture within a broader framework of economic and cultural history. He is currently engaged in projecting his cathedral studies through the electronic media using a combination of three-dimensional simulation; digital imaging and video.

Edward Ayers 
University of Virginia
Processing the Past: The American Civil War as Information
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Edward Ayers has overseen the creation of a large digital archive, the Valley of the Shadow Project, which has won a number of prizes and which has appeared in several different forms: a continually evolving website, a CD-ROM, a native-digital scholarly article sponsored by a leading print journal, and a trade book to be published by W. W. Norton this spring In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863. In his talk, Ayers will reflect on what this experiment tells us about the way the content and the form of history define one another and what new directions digital history might take.

About the Speaker
Edward Ayers is the Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He was educated at the University of Tennessee and Yale University, where he received his Ph.D. in American Studies. He has written and edited seven books. Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth-Century American South (1984) won the 1986 J. Willard Hurst Prize for best book in American legal history. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction (1992), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, was named the best book on the history of American race relations and on the history of the American South. Ayers is the senior editor of the The Oxford Book of the American South (1997) and co-author of All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions (1996) and American Passages: A History of the United States (2000).

Ayers has won four teaching awards, including the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Virginia State Council of Higher Education.

Ayers’s current work is a multidimensional effort called “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.” The World Wide Web version of the project has attracted more than 3 million visitors. The web and CD ROM version published by W. W. Norton and Company in 2000 won the first annual eLincoln Prize for best digital work on the era of the American Civil War.

President Clinton appointed Ayers to the National Council on the Humanities in 2000. Ayers has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto (1999-2000) and has served as the Fulbright Commission’s John Adams Professor of American Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands (1995).

N. Katherine Hayles
University of California-Los Angeles
Literature in the Twenty-first Century: A Technological Revolution
Thursday, October 24, 2002

Technology has always played a key role in the development of the arts and humanities. Modern literature has been so deeply influenced by the printing press, for example, that it can scarcely be conceived without this technology. Now another revolution is underway as writers create literary works for digital media. The digital computer, with its ability to simulate almost everything, has already radically changed what "literature" means in an electronic context. Electronic literature, written on computers and meant to be read on them, has moved into multimedia, combining the traditional art of language with animation, graphics, images and sound. Far from being a passive delivery vehicle, the technology has actively changed the look, feel, and content of these electronic works. This conjunction between literary art and technology is apparent, for example, in works that combine natural language with code to re-imagine the past and future of human identity. This talk, richly illustrated with examples, will explore the cultural and critical issues raised by electronic literature, particularly connections between the means of representation (that is, digital technology) and what is represented.

About the Speaker
N. Katherine Hayles is a Professor of English and Design/Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles where she has been on the faculty since 1992. Her research interests are in the areas of literature and science in the twentieth century, electronic textuality, modern and postmodern American and British fiction, critical theory, and science fiction.

Dr. Hayles has won many honors for her work including the Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory, 1998-99 and the Eaton Award for the Best Book in Science Fiction Criticism and Theory, 1998-99. She is a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, has won numerous teaching awards, and was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship 1991-92. The author of several books and numerous chapters in collections, she also has written dozens of journal and magazine articles, reviews, and opinion pieces.

Hayles received a BS in Chemistry from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1966, an MS in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1969, an MA in Literature from Michigan State University in 1970, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Rochester in 1977.

Neal Lane
Rice University
Two Cultures--Plus One
Tuesday, April 2, 2002

In 1959, C.P. Snow published a small book entitled The Two Cultures in which he argued that a communications gap had formed between the scientists and humanists in England and that this gap was dangerous for society. Much has changed in five decades. The world is a great deal more complex today, in part due to the impacts of technology--and it is more crowded, noisy, and dangerous. Science, engineering and technology have become a nearly seamless enterprise. And the scientists have gone directly to the public--a "third culture"--without worrying about trying to close Lord Snow’s two-cultures gap, hence without having the benefit of perspectives from the humanists, social scientists and the broader scholarly community. In turn, most people, convinced of the value of science and technology, have welcomed the changes science and technology are making in their lives and tend to give their elected policy makers almost carte blanche to sort out the good from the bad. Unfortunately, at a time when the pace of discovery and technological innovation are accelerating, neither the public nor the policy makers know much about science and technology. This state of affairs is unsustainable. The goal of this talk is to address this "third culture"-- society at large -- and the need for a conversation involving the public, their elected policy makers, scientists, and other scholars. Fortunately, at Rice, the conversation has already begun. I will use, as examples of policy issues the public ought to care about, a few that I dealt with in Washington, e.g. global climate change, human genome (and biomedical research), and missile defense.

About The Speaker
Neal Lane, Edward A. and Hermena Hancock Kelly University Professor at Rice University, holds appointments as Senior Fellow of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, where he is engaged in matters of science and technology policy, and in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Prior to returning to Rice University in January 2001, Lane served in the Clinton Administration as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, from August 1998 to January 2001, and as Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), from October 1993 to August 1998.

Before becoming the NSF Director, Lane was Provost and Professor of Physics at Rice University in Houston, Texas, a position he had held since 1986. He first came to Rice in 1966, when he joined the Department of Physics as an assistant professor. In 1972, he became Professor of Physics and Space Physics and Astronomy. He left Rice from mid-1984 to 1986 to serve as Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. In addition, from 1979 to 1980, while on leave from Rice, he worked at the NSF as Director of the Division of Physics.

Lane has received many awards and honorary degrees and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a number of professional associations. He serves on several boards and advisory committees.

Mark C. Taylor
Williams College
Minding Bodies
Monday, October 22, 2001

Drawing on insights from complexity studies, theoretical biology, and cognitive psychology, as well as theology and philosophy, Taylor develops a theory of culture in terms of distributed information processing. As the lines separating the biological, mental, and technological dimensions of experience become increasingly obscure, it is necessary to rethink the multiple functions of cultural systems. Taylor is the author of many books in which he attempts to bring together the discourses of sciences, the arts, and humanities. "Minding Bodies" probes issues discussed at length in his forthcoming book The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture.

About the Speaker
Mark C. Taylor is the Cluett Professor of Humanities at Williams College where he is also director of the Center for Technology in the Arts and Humanities. He received a Doktorgrad (Philosophy) from the University of Copenhagen in 1981, a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1973, and a B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1968.

In 1997 Taylor cofounded the Global Education Network (GEN) with Herbert Allen. The GEN is a web-based company that strives to develop the highest quality college-level courses in the humanities, liberal arts, social sciences, and sciences, and distribute them online for an affordable price. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, was elected a member of the Soren Kierkegaard Academy, and holds memberships in many other professional organizations. Taylor has written numerous books and articles on a variety of topics, from tatoos to architecture, to theology and creating global classrooms. He has collaborated on works in a variety of media, including CD ROM and film.

Taylor has received many awards including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Wesleyan University, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching National College Professor of the Year award, and the Nots American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence.