The Centre for
Centre for 21st Century Humanities

About us

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities is focussed on three key themes of e-research, impact, and crossing disciplines. Our vision is that by 2020 the University of Newcastle will be known for a significant concentration of excellence in the humanities to complement its distinction in science, engineering and medicine.

The humanities focus on the context for human activity at the widest level. They have a particular contribution to make to advancing the study of humanity and its cultures in partnership with the social and natural sciences, and with engineering and biomedicine. The Centre for 21st Century Humanities brings together emerging areas of the humanities where the University of Newcastle has significant strength, namely:

  • Digital humanities, where humanities scholarship engages directly with digital technologies
  • The history of violence, which initiates a new field (Violence Studies) and offers exceptional opportunities for working across disciplines;
  • Social research services in the areas of primary industry development; generational health issues in rural areas; risk and engagement for major projects; and local government shared learning frameworks;
  • The materialist history of the book and of women's writing; and
  • Language theory, documentation and application, focusing on endangered languages in our region.


Our expertise in this area includes work in online research collections, language analysis and digital mapping. We believe the combination of the deep understanding of culture in the humanities combined with digital tools and materials has applications outside academic disciplines. We are interested in developing partnerships with agencies and businesses in tourism, defence, and publishing, with Indigenous corporations and Land Councils, and with anyone who needs to deal with large amounts of written material.

Within the academy, we are pursuing new opportunities including applying methods from computational stylistics to analyse large collections of historical documents. Network analysis has applications across all our fields, from Napoleon to Stalin, and from 16th century English women writers to the 21st century workplace. Geographic Information Systems, helping see data in spatial terms, applies across the board. Visualisation through statistics and new presentation techniques can bring striking new insights in all corners of the humanities.


People everywhere are interested in history, in language, in ideology. This is where the humanities have scale and impact.  The humanities can contribute to Newcastle as a creative city, adding an element of historical and cultural knowledge to the mix, through events and displays and through entrepreneurship.

These pathways will link the work of the 21st Century Humanities to the wider public and thence to policy debates and government initiatives.

Cross disciplines

There are exciting opportunities for new insights through deep collaborations between the humanities and disciplines from health, bio-medicine, science and engineering. Centre members already have projects of this kind underway and the Centre is providing funding to incubate new ventures.