1 Jun 2024 08:45–17:00 SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP Book Now


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‘Hello World!’ is how all computer programmers begin, and it’s how Mark C. Marino opens his manifesto for critical code studies. This elementary exercise in coding, accompanied by the instruction PRINT, demonstrates that “code exists not for machines but for humans who need to communicate with the machine and with other humans.” The code we write enables us to interface with the machine, sitting somewhere between human language and the calculations performed by the computer.

Here, we take up ‘conversation’ as a means of interrogating the performative, cultural, and functional nature of code. The discipline of critical code studies extrapolates outward from close readings of chunks of computer code to capture the broader phenomena at work behind them: the users, communities, engineers, teachers, critics, routers, servers, compilers, computers, chargers, and utility networks. The framework of the conversation places code into continuous mutual negotiation with these resources; compiling is only the beginning of the process.

However, critical code studies is frustrated by the increased preponderance of deep neural networks, which abstract code processes further from what is intelligible through language; human critique and understanding hinges on our ability to read and speak back to code. How do these conversations falter when language is obstructed, and how can we develop methodologies to keep understanding obfuscated code?

This one-day conference on the dynamic field of critical code studies will expand on these questions and on the conversations begun by the Cultural Politics of Code reading group at Cambridge Digital Humanities. The keynote will be delivered by David Berry, Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex.


Claire Carroll and Orla Delaney

Keynote Speaker

David Berry (Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex)

Further information

How to register, fees, access

How to register

As an attendee:

Please register through the University of Cambridge e-sales page. Select ‘standard’ or ‘subsidised’ and complete the questionnaire and payment information. Registration will become active once full payment is received.

University of Cambridge staff or students whose cost centre or grant is covering their registration will be charged the appropriate fee, but should select ‘UoC Staff/Student registration (£0)’ initially to register and trigger the internal charging process. A cost centre is required for students or staff in CRASSH to complete the registration process. An approved Purchase Order is necessary if you are from another department. Kindly liaise with your finance team to obtain an approved Purchase Order or a valid Cost Centre before registering.

As a speaker:

All panellists will be emailed with specific registration instructions. If you have not received an email by 5 April, please get in touch.

When and where?

The conference will be held in person in Cambridge on Saturday 1 June 2024. Sessions will take place between 9am and 5pm in Room SG1 of the Alison Richard Building on the Sidgwick Site. Refreshments will be served in the Atrium of the building, which is directly outside SG1.

All participants will need to arrange and pay for their own travel and accommodation for the conference if required. Tea, coffee, water and a sandwich lunch will be provided on the day.


  • Standard registration (employed): £20
  • Subsidised registration (unemployed/student): £10
  • Speakers: no fee

This fee covers catering, administrative, and other organisational costs.

There are limited bursary places for individuals who are not able to afford the cost of the conference and can demonstrate how attending the conference will be beneficial for their work or study. If you wish to be considered for a bursary, please contact CodeAsConversation@cdh.cam.ac.uk as soon as possible.

The deadline for registration and payment is 23:00 BST on Saturday 25 May, one week before the start of the conference.


This conference will be held in person in the Alison Richard Building on the Sidgwick Site at the University of Cambridge. Please find accessibility information here.

Participants should make their dietary and access requirements known on the e-sales form. Should you wish to discuss any specifics, please get in touch via CodeAsConversation@cdh.cam.ac.uk. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.

Wifi is available on the university premises.



08:45 – 09:15

Welcome and Introduction
Orla Delaney and Claire Carroll

09:15 – 09:30


Panel 1

9:30 – 10:45

Jonathan Blaney

‘tragical-comical-historical-pastoral’: Org Babel and Hacky Code

Roberto Laghi

The Poet as the Coder: the Conversation between Text and Code in the Techno-poetic Work of Fabrizio Venerandi

Koundinya Dhulipala

Vernacular Computing as Encoded Aesthetics for Decolonial Code Intervention

Ida Marie S. Lassen

A Critical Examination of a Computational Approach to Literary Quality


10:45 – 11:00

Panel 2

11:00 – 12:15

Eamonn Bell

Reading CD Readers

Titaÿna Kauffmann-Will

How Today’s Obvious Was Conceptualized – Interpreting the Apple Lisa Source Code as an Historical Source

Teresa Pelinski

The Dialectics of Resistance and Accommodation in Debugging

Richard A. Carter

Alien Media: Writing/Coding After the Human


12:15 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:30

Keynote: David M. Berry Chair: Alan Blackwell

Critiquing Code Alignment: Tracing “Forward Alignment” and “Backward Alignment” in Critical Code Studies

Micro Panel 3

14:30 – 15:15

Juliet van Rosendaal

Pipeline Exquis

Tech and Power Collective

Code Review as Sociotechnical Pedagogy


15:15 – 15:40

Panel 4

15:40 – 16:55

Daniella Gáti

Code’s Identities: Categorical Logic and the Erasure of Queer In-Betweenness

Angela Kölling

Tuvalu 2.0 – a Terra Nullius Translation Game

Christoffer Koch Andersen

Lost in Translation and Living Between the Coded Lines: Binary Code and the Incommensurability of Transness

Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk