Todd Presner is Professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies at the University of California Los Angeles.  He is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies and is also the Chair of the Digital Humanities Program (undergraduate minor and graduate certificate) (http://www.digitalhumanities.ucla.edu). His research focuses on European intellectual history, the history of media, visual culture, digital humanities, and cultural geography.  He is the author or co-author of three books: The first, Mobile Modernity: Germans, Jews, Trains (Columbia University Press, 2007), maps German-Jewish intellectual history onto the development of the railway system; the second, Muscular Judaism: The Jewish Body and the Politics of Regeneration (Routledge, 2007), analyzes the aesthetic dimensions of the strong Jewish body; the third, co-authored with Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, and Jeffrey Schnapp is Digital_Humanities (MIT Press, 2012), a critical-theoretical exploration of this complex, emerging field.  A fourth book, written and designed in collaboration with David Shepard and Yoh Kawano, was just published:  HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities (Harvard UP, 2014).  The companion website is: http//thebook.hypercities.com 

Presner is the founder, director, and editor-in-chief  of HyperCities, a collaborative, digital mapping platform that explores the layered histories of city spaces.  Funded by the MacArthur Foundation as one of its first “digital media and learning” projects in 2008, HyperCities is an open-source, web-based platform for “going back in time” to analyze the cultural, urban, and social layers of city spaces.  HyperCities brings together archival objects, maps, 3D models, academic books and articles, as well as community histories in an ever-growing, hypermedia context that allows for rich interaction, collaborative authorship, and participatory learning.   To date, we host content for more than two dozen cities, including Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, and Rome, with many more cities coming on-board in the future.

Major collaborative publications realized using HyperCities include:

  • “HyperCities Los Angeles” (http://hypercities.com/LA), funded by the Haynes Foundation, with PI Phil Ethington, Jan Reiff (co-PI), and Presner (co-PI) — brings quantitative GIS and census data together with qualitative story-telling, oral histories, and neighborhood memories, focusing on LA’s Historic Filipinotown.  Realized in collaboration with Public Matters and the Pilipino Workers’ Association.
  • “Visualizing Statues in the Antique Roman Forum” (http://inscriptions.etc.ucla.edu), funded by the NEH, with Diane Favro, Chris, Johanson, and Gregor Kalas (PIs).
  • “HyperCities Now” (mapping social media from Egypt, Libya, and Sendai, Japan): http://egypt.hypercities.com, http://libya.hypercities.com, http://sendai.hypercities.com (with co-PIs David Shepard, Yoh Kawano, and Presner).
  • Holocaust Survivor Stories: Survivor stories told by undergraduate students in Presner’s German 118 Service Learning course, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (needs Google Earth plugin)

In the field of Digital Humanities, my current research focuses on the development of the geo-spatial web, digital publications, the ethics and visualization of cultural data, and social media events.  Together with Willeke Wendrich, Diane Favro, and Jan Reiff, Presner is one of the co-director’s of UCLA’s new undergraduate Keck Program in Digital Cultural Mapping.  In the summer of 2012, the HyperCities team held a three-week NEH Summer Institute on Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities (directed by Presner, with co-directors Diane Favro and Chris Johanson): “Digital Cultural Mapping: Transformative Scholarship and Teaching in the Geospatial Humanities”


BA, Duke University (1994), Literature and Philosophy; magna cum laude, with distinction in Program in Literature

MA, Stanford University (1998), Comparative Literature

PhD, Stanford University (2002), Comparative Literature

PhD, University of California, Berkeley (2003), History of Art