The Cultural Politics of Code is a new reading group exploring ideas and methods from the emerging field of critical code studies.

Critical Code Studies (CCS) seeks to analyse both the functional operation of programs and the source code to interpret priorities and significance that may not be clear through either lens alone. CCS holds that the lines of code in a program are not value-neutral and can be analysed using the theoretical approaches applied to other semiotic systems, in addition to particular interpretive methods developed specifically for the discussions of programs. CCS is fundamentally interdisciplinary, taking cues from cultural studies, semiotic analysis, science and technology studies, and media archaeology.

This reading group will begin with discussion and exploration of the methods associated with CCS, moving on to collaborative codebase analyses and expansion of critical code methods to other fields in the digital humanities (e.g. digital museum studies, cultural analytics, interactive fiction studies). This term’s discussions will cover code aesthetics and poetics, black-boxing and machine learning, and explainability and accessibility of code.



Hybrid sessions will run fortnightly during Michaelmas 2023, beginning on the 11th of October. The reading list will be uploaded before the start of term and expanded upon as the term progresses. 

Sign up to our mailing list for the zoom link and further updates.


First Session: An Introduction to CCS
11 October 1700-1800

GR04, English Faculty Building, 9 West Road, Sidgwick Site

This hybrid session will explore an introduction to the discipline and cover the Introduction to Critical Code Studies by Mark C. Marino, and the updated Introduction to the field, also by Marino and Jeremy Douglass, that appeared in the most recent issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly.

Register for this event here.


Second Session: Code Aesthetics and Creative Coding
25 October 1700-1800
Third Session: Deep Learning Models
8 November 1700-1800
Fourth Session: Biases, AI, and Explainability
22 November 1700-1800


Who Should Join?

We welcome anyone working at PhD level or above with an interest in thinking critically about code. Any level of coding experience is welcome; our reading list includes optional additional readings aimed at those joining our group from a non-technical background.

If you don’t meet these criteria, but are still interested in joining the reading group, please reach out to the convenors Claire Carroll ( and Orla Delaney (


Claire Carroll ( is a second year PhD researcher in English, affiliated with Cambridge Digital Humanities. Her work explores the second person voice in interactive digital fiction and the extra/diegetic modes of embodiment and immersion it promotes in readers. Claire is a 2023-2024 CDH Methods Fellow and a member of Pembroke College.

Orla Delaney ( is a third year PhD researcher in English, and an affiliated doctoral student at Cambridge Digital Humanities. Her work examines database infrastructures in cultural heritage institutions, using ethnographic methods to understand how those infrastructures produce meaning and relations within collections. She is a member of St John’s College.

Claire Carroll

Claire Carroll

Doctoral Student

Orla Delaney

Orla Delaney

Doctoral Student; Methods Fellow

Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886