The members of the Closeness Project are interested in exploring the idea of "closeness" as a field of inquiry in the humanities.
Our project has no a priori definition of closeness. Our plan is to proceed inductively -- to collect as many accounts and versions of closeness as we can -- and then look for patterns. This can mean, inter alia, interpersonal closeness, spiritual closeness, closeness to nature, to animals, and of course to art and literature. While in Silicon Valley (where we live and work) notions of closeness often involve virtuality and robust forms of digital mediation, we're interested in how technology can help us to preserve, nurture, and even better define what it is that we mean when we speak of the experience of closeness when we read, write, engage art, dance, translate texts, play music, and most importantly, when we share stories.
Our plan is to have several authors contribute micro-stories (i.e., very short stories) that focus on the question of closeness in some way. Once we have a large enough corpus, we'd like to develop different ways of visualizing the broader picture of closeness that emerges from these stories: patterns, themes, rhythms, and the like. What will emerge, we hope, is a rich, human(istic) picture of closeness.
Our current team is Vincent Barletta (faculty chair), Jaih Hunter-Hill, Friederike Knuepling, and Tom Winterbottom. We exist thanks to a generous grant from the Research Unit of Stanford's Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.