Department Blog

H/SS & Gov Info Services

How Objects Speak

August 13th, 2014 by David Michalski

Some of the more interesting classes that draw upon the rich collections of Shields Library over the years are those that study material culture. Professors in American Studies, Community Development, Sociology, Anthropology,  the History of Science, and University Writing frequently send their students to library resources to trace the changing interaction between objects and society. Student’s examining technologies of everyday life, such as eyeglasses, cell phone’s, or hair dryers draw upon the library’s primary and secondary literatures to reconstruct the social worlds through which these objects pass. The term papers the students write testify to the complex relations that surround things, and in the process of writing, students often find that it is in the social gathering that the object comes to life.

Peter Miller, in his recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “How Objects Speak” traces the rise of interest in study of material culture and examines its contemporary appeal.

Milk Jar
From Miller’s article “How Objects Speak” Chronicle of Higher Education. 8/11/2014
Item: milk can
Material: Aluminum
Size: Diameter 32 cm, height of the main part 51 cm, and the upper part 15 cm.
Date: 1940?
Location: Warsaw, Poland.

Peter Miller has also gathered recent writing on material culture studies in his new edited book:
Cultural histories of the material world Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2013. See: Shields Library HM621 .C848 2013. It’s a good place to start, if one is interested in engaging the archaeology of the present.

Formal ontologies in the Digital Humanities

June 27th, 2014 by Michael Winter

For an excellent–and remarkably clear–discussion of how formal hierarchical semantic modelling can be applied to the subject domain of philosophy, interested readers should take a look at a recent paper by Colin Allen and the InPho group at Indiana University: “Cross-Cutting Categorization Schemes in the Digital Humanities,” ISIS 104, 3 (September 2013): 573-583; DOI: 10.1086/673276. For a sense of what a sample end-product model might look like, see  especially Fig. 1 on p. 582, which presents a representational map that depicts the similarities and differences in how the German philosopher Immanuel Kant is treated in two different domain-specific encyclopedias.

Ebook Sales Growth Slowing Greatly

June 26th, 2014 by Michael Winter

From a recent article: “Say goodbye to the go-go years of fast-paced ebook growth — at least for now. Ebook growth, once in the triple and double digits, with no signs of abating, has slowed to a crawl in 2013,” writes Jeremy Greenfield in the trade publication dbw/Digital Book World. Nonetheless,  Greenfield added, ebooks, while not currently hot commodities, are still warm; and according to the same article–based on numbers from the Association of American Publishers–”now account for a larger percentage of overall publisher revenues than they ever have.” Ebooks now account for about 27% of adult trade sales.  The same phenomenon has also recently been noted by industry standard, PW/Publishers Weekly.

Intellectual Property Dispute Over the Marx and Engels Corpus

May 5th, 2014 by Michael Winter

According to a recent stories in Bloomberg News and the New York Times, one of the copyright holders of the standard English-language edition of the collected works of Marx and Engels (the U.K. based publisher Lawrence & Wishart) has issued a takedown order to the Marxists Internet Archive; and according to a notice on its site, the Archive has complied by removing any materials published Lawrence & Wishart.

Seeking New Paths to Open Access in the Humanities

February 21st, 2014 by David Michalski

Earlier this week, I attended webinar, called “Open Access in the Humanities” led by Rupert Gatti. Dr. Gatti is a Fellow in Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge and Co-Founder and Director of Open Book Publishers. The presentation outlined the landscape and the challenges of Open Access in the humanities.

One point that resonated with me, given the centrality of monographs to the humanities, was a statistic that showed the relative dearth of new open access academic books in relation to new journal titles. Clearly there are combinations of reasons preventing a more robust move to open access in the humanities, both economic (the problem of financial capital: books (e or print) are more labor intensive) and sociocultural (the problem of cultural capital: in that humanities books are awarded status and prestige through publishing houses). Gatti’s presentation took on these challenges by seeking a sustainable ways to address these conditions, showing some exciting options moving forward.

The bulk of his presentation was spent on Open Books Publishers, a new publishing project for peer-reviewed open access monographs, which he directs. (See Open Books Publishers:

http://www.openbookpublishers.com/section/25/1/faqs ) This outfit has only published a few books to date, but their economic model, which includes a mixture of revenue from big name supporters, hard-copy and alternative format sales, and voluntary author-generated publication grant funding makes them an interesting new player in field.

Gatti also outlined other important initiatives. One of these was Knowledge Unlatched, (See: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/ ) a project which seeks long-term cost savings for institutions by sharing the costs of making HSS monographs available on a Creative Commons license. UC Libraries is part in one of their pilot projects. Another was Unglue It, ( https://unglue.it/about/) a project designed to help individuals and institutions join together to liberate specific ebooks “crowd-funding ” payments to authors and publishers so they they will relicense their works under Creative Commons licenses.” 

It is exciting to see these different economic models being tried. While I can’t say they will all achieve the sustainability they desire, it is clear that their aim is to create cooperatives to address real costs.

This webinar was sponsored by UKSG, a group formally that United Kingdom Serials Group. UKSG has evolved into a network that encourages “the exchange of ideas on scholarly communication…spanning the wide range of interests and activities across the scholarly information community of librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors. More about their activities can be found here: http://www.uksg.org/

Behold the Editor, increasingly important, yet undervalued says Alan Rauch

January 22nd, 2014 by David Michalski

Ecce Emendator: The Cost of Knowledge for Scholarly Editors.  

“…How is it that the role of editor has seemed to have disappeared? And how is it that the tremendous labor performed by editors has essentially been erased or degraded by the very system that depends on us?…”

Alan Rauch, past president of president of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ), and founding editor of Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology writes about the place of academic journal Editors in the new political economy of knowledge.
https://chroniclevitae.com/news/285-ecce-emendator-the-cost-of-knowledge-for-scholarly-editors

Gallica: Bibliothèque Numérique

December 12th, 2013 by Michael Winter

Formerly Gallica Classique. One of the world’s most advanced digital library collections, Gallica provides online access to millions of books, periodicals, images, videos, maps, sound files, manuscripts, and scores. Searchable in basic or advanced modes, and browsable by publication type. Originally an attempt to provide coverage of the  Bibliothèque Nationale‘s vast holdings in French literature from the Middle Ages to the present, it now has digital access partnerships with a number of other major library collections substantially increasing its offerings. Includes links to other relevant sites.

National Library of the Netherlands/Koniklijke Bibliotheek

December 11th, 2013 by Michael Winter

The website of the National Library of the Netherlands offers an amazing array of content from and about the Netherlands, the Low Countries, Europe, and the world at large. Website available in both English and Dutch.

Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) Performing Arts

October 3rd, 2013 by Michael Winter

Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) Performing Arts provides digital resources related to music, dance, theater, radio, film, television, and performance. AHDS is part of the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow. AHDS supports researchers, teachers, and students in the collection and creation of digital materials.

NYT: Professor Says He Has Solved a Mystery Over a Slave’s Novel

September 19th, 2013 by David Michalski

In this New York Times article, Gregg Hecimovich, chairman of the English department at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, is reported to have solved a literary and cultural mystery by identifying the author of The Bondswoman’s Narrative: Hannah Bond, and naming her literary influences by researching wills, diaries, handwritten almanacs and public records.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/19/books/professor-says-he-has-solved-a-mystery-over-a-slaves-novel.html

See also–
Crafts, Hannah.
bondwoman’s narrative / Hannah Crafts ; edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
New York : Warner Books, c2002.
Shields Library PS1449.C673 B66 2002 Regular Loan

In search of Hannah Crafts : critical essays on The bondwoman’s narrative / Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Hollis Robbins, eds.
New York : BasicCivitas, c2004.
Shields Library PS1449.C673 B6634 2004 Regular Loan

Hecimovich, Gregg A.Searching for Hannah Crafts in Eastern North Carolina. North Carolina Literary Review 16 (2007): 43-54.

Williams, Adebayo. “Of Human Bondage and Literary Triumphs: Hannah Crafts and the Morphology of the Slave Narrative.” Research in African Literatures 34.1 (Spring 2003): 137ff