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H/SS & Gov Info Services
H-Net, a humanities research information network, carried recently an announcement of great interest to scholars working on occupied France and the French during World War II: EGO 39-45 – War and occupation writings (1939-1945). Sponsored by the French government’s national research agency, the first phase of the project is a catalog of first person accounts, memoirs, autobiographical narratives, notebooks, and private journals kept by a wide variety of persons during the occupation. Database records include standard bibliographic descriptions along with fields identifying the libraries where items are held, and where available call numbers or indications of shelf-location. Future plans include links to the fulltext versions of the documents, as they are digitized and added to the online collection.
If you’ve every wondered how it could be that “being” and “nothingness” are actually two different words for the same thing–however opposite they may seem–you can shed light on this and many other puzzles by watching a You Tube clip about the work behind the Oxford English Dictionary. (Hint: it’s clearly illustrated by the concept of a doughnut hole). And for links to a number of additional clips offering behind-the-scenes looks at how the OED is produced, click here.
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.
From Miller’s article “How Objects Speak” Chronicle of Higher Education. 8/11/2014
Item: milk can
Size: Diameter 32 cm, height of the main part 51 cm, and the upper part 15 cm.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.