Since the earliest civilizations, people have recorded their thoughts and experiences through storytelling, art, philosophy and other forms of expression. Studying these works – collectively known as the humanities – helps us understand the past and ultimately ourselves. In today’s digital age, scholars are advancing this research with tools like visual mapping and computation to better probe questions of how and why history unfolded the way it did and what makes us human.

At Stanford, this research happens through many interdisciplinary collaborations among the humanities, social sciences and technical fields. Some of that work takes places at the Stanford University Libraries, the Stanford Humanities Center and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), which is home to the Literary Lab, Spatial History Project, Humanities + Design, Poetic Media Lab and Text Technologies, among others. These stories represent some of the ways Stanford scholars are probing ancient questions through modern digital technologies.