BH and DH: Book History and Digital Humanities
Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture
University of Wisconsin-Madison
September 22-24, 2017 | Madison, Wisconsin
Call for Individual Papers and Complete/Partial Panels
Proposals due to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2017
Decision Notification by May 15, 2017
Organizers: Jonathan Senchyne, Heather Wacha, Mark Vareschi
Questions to: email@example.com
Keynote Lecture: Matthew Kirschenbaum, Professor of English at the University of Maryland and author of Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination and Track Changes A Literary History of Word Processing.
Often celebrated and criticized as the next big thing in humanist research and teaching, “the digital humanities” get a lot of press for shaking up the way things are done. But is “dh” a continuation of some of the most “traditional” scholarly work in the humanities: bibliography, textual criticism, and book history? This conference, convened by the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aims to study how digital humanities grows out book history, how “bh” and “dh” continue to be mutually informative and generative, and how also they contradict each other.
In Mechanisms (MIT 2008), Matthew Kirschenbaum brings together the methods of digital forensics and book history, noting that his study of the inscription of data on hard drives “draws heavily from bibliography and textual criticism, which are scholarly fields dedicated to the study of books as physical objects and the reconstruction and representation of texts from multiple versions and witnesses.” D.F. McKenzie, Kirschenbaum reminds us, similarly emphasized the continuities rather than the ruptures between studying manuscript, print, and electronic media, remarking in his Panizzi lectures: “I define ‘texts’ to include verbal, visual, oral, and numeric data in the form of maps, prints, and music, of archives of recorded sound, of films, videos, and any computer-stored information.” Criticizing the politics of the field in the digital pages of the LA Review of Books, Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia argued that “to understand the politics of the Digital Humanities, it is necessary to understand the context from which it emerged. One crucial point of origin, rarely remarked in discussions of the subject, is in the literary studies subfield known as ‘textual studies’ …. [in] two broadly defined forms…. ‘book history’….[and] ‘textual criticism.’”
This conference is an occasion to think broadly and provocatively about fields and formats – to trace these genealogies and debate their meaning, to think about what difference it makes to position the hand written or printed word on a continuum with digital inscription rather than insisting the latter is a clean break from the former, and to broaden views about whose labor – intellectual and physical – makes all kinds of reading, writing, and scholarship possible.
The organizers welcome proposals for papers, entire panels, partial panels (to be filled in with individual paper submissions), posters, or other forms of presentation from scholars and practitioners in all fields that have claim to these questions: literature, history, religious studies, librarianship, information studies, area and ethnic studies, computer science, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, digital studies, library and information science, art history, preservation, forensics, curation, archival practice, and more.
Topics may include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Book as technology
- The relationships between and among librarians, technologists, and humanities faculty and students
- The making of digital bibliographies, catalogs, and archives out of analog ones (and librarian, largely women information laborers)
- Histories of digitization (and/or of microfilm, other storage and transmission media)
- What happens to the “traditional humanities” vs. “digital humanities” antagonism when we see the latter as a continuation or inheritor of book history?
- Critical Race Studies in BH and DH and the critiques of both from African American studies, postcolonial studies, and Native American studies
- digital remediation of manuscript, print, and books
- Histories of particular institutions that connect BH and DH such as the American Library Association, the UVA English Dept, the William Blake Archive.
- Printing history and digital humanities (e.g. understanding circumstances of production key to OCR, etc)
- Importance of labor to create metadata, reference books, accumulate information – what kind of labor is acceptable, privileged, valuable?
- Quantitative methods in Book History (esp. Annales school, French/Continental tradition) and continuity with digital humanities methods
- Bibliographical methods in Book History and continuity with digital humanities methods
- How has DH dealt with/expanded what “reading” means and how is this connected to book history’s approach to history of reading?
- BH and DH methods for studying group reading, collaborative reading and writing, institutions of reading, reading “against the grain”, readers as writers, etc.
- Encoding the physical book – how to make computers understand and display what book historians care about
- DH and BH and the collecting/accumulating/”cabinet of curiosities” tradition; media archaeology
- history of information organization/data collection as part of history of science, book history and digital humanities, structures of digital and pre-digital information
- web archiving and preservation of information about readers and texts in the present
- And more. We welcome an expansive, capacious, and argumentative field for this conference!
Other relevant details:
Affordable (below market) accommodations are available in a reserved block of rooms at an on-campus hotel on a first-come first-served basis. We offer a reasonable registration fee on a sliding scale, especially to keep fees very low for graduate students and adjuncts. Information about accommodations and registration will circulate with panel/paper acceptances.
While on campus, attendees will be able to experiment in the CHPDC’s “Text Technologies Press,” a full service hands on letterpress shop, and the iSchool’s “RADD: Recovering Analogue and Digital Data” center, a media archaeology lab for personal archiving of endangered media formats. In the past, conference goers have made productive research use of materials in the Special Collections department in Memorial Library and the vast holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society while on campus.
Participants will be invited to submit edited and expanded papers for possible inclusion in a volume within our series at the UW Press.
Coordinator, Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture