Professorial Lecture Series
This public lecture marks the culmination of our Professorial Lecture Series this year, a captivating series of four presentations, all dedicated to honouring our distinguished academics while highlighting their profound contributions to research and education.
About the event
Ambitious claims are often made today for big data analytics as the preeminent tool for understanding and predicting human behaviour. In this talk, Professor Benjamin Penny will 'zoom in' to consider the value of a micro- rather than a macro-perspective, focusing on the utility of the specific, the local, and the individual for analysing human society.
A famous aphorism, variously attributed to Roman Jakobson and Nietzsche, has it that philology is the art of reading slowly. It was only after Benjamin had completed many years of his education in Chinese that he realised that reading slowly had been the foundation of his disciplinary practice.
The intense focus philology has on the specific ramifications of each word as we read has been a key methodological underpinning of Benjamin's work. While 'big data' analytics undoubtedly has its value taking the specific instance seriously - a single life, one group of religious practitioners, the small data - can still be beautiful.
6-7pm Academic lecture
7-7.30pm Networking drinks & canapes
About the speaker
Benjamin Penny is a professor of Chinese history and religion in the School of Culture, History and Language at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. His research examines religious and spiritual movements in modern and contemporary China as well as in medieval times; Taiwanese religion and society, and expatriate society in the treaty ports in the nineteenth century.
Read more about Benjamin's profile here.