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“Games Without Frontiers” is a multi-faceted initiative sponsored by the Program Committee of the Librarians Association of UC Davis. It includes a comprehensive Library Exhibit, curated by Roberto Delgadillo, and other supporting materials, including Roberto’s comprehensive bibliography of the growing and increasingly significant “military-entertainment complex,” where gaming technology meets increasingly digitized means of waging war. On Thursday April 16th the Program Committee also hosted a symposium of invited speakers addressing various aspects of this topic. (For a response to and review reporting on and assessing the events of the symposium, see the recent review by Stephanie Maroney of the Davis Humanities Institute.) Interested parties should be sure to read the excellent and provocative introductory essay written especially for the occasion by Chris Hables Gray, one of the Symposium’s speakers.
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.
After Alfred Andersch and Hans Werner Richter were captured in Italy toward the end of the Second World War, they were sent to a prison camp in Rhode Island, where they worked on a publication directed at the “re-education” of German prisoners of war. When they returned to Germany in 1946, they revived it as Der Ruf – unabhängige Blätter der jungen Generation (same title with a different subtitle, reflecting their much broader literary ambitions). Shields Library is fortunate enough to own most of the issues of this publication, shelved at AP30 .R95 (the library has Volume 1, number 1 to Volume 3, number 18, 1946-1948). For additional details, see the entries for Andersch and Richter in the Neue deutsche Biographie, shelved in Shields, Humanities/Social Sciences Reference, DD85 .N4; and the entry for Richter in The Encyclopedia of Contermporary German Culture, shelved nearby at DD290.26 .E53 1999.
Although this publication was extremely successful, it was published only under the official imprimatur and license of the U.S. Military Authority, under terms established during the Occupation during the early period just after the war. Not long after the launch, the U.S. authority–dissatisfied with the editors’ political orientations–abruptly cancelled the publication’s license, thus terminating it. Andersch and Richter became, in connection with Der Ruf, very well-known, but they eventually became even better-known as founding spirits of the “Gruppe 47,” a powerful organization of postwar German writers.
The MLA International Bibliography has just announced a new video tutorial series on different ways of searching the bibliography. New tutorials will be released every few months. Click here for links to the currently available tutorials. The tutorials cover both the ProQuest and the EBSCO interfaces.
This recent 77 minute documentary by the pioneering ethnographer’s great grandson explores Malinowski’s checkered legacy, both in terms of his relationships with the peoples he studied and in terms of his relationships to members of his own family. Check The UC Davis Harvest library catalog record for further information. Click here for a trailer.
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.
As the information environment shifts, and new publishing opportunities are presented to researchers, librarians and scholars planning on how to move forward need to reflect on the relationship between the research library, the scholar/author, and the functions of the academic press.
Having sheparded to publication some of the most remarkable academic books of recent years, Ken Wissoker, the editorial director at Duke University Press, is in a good position to explain the added-value the academic press provides to this relationship. And in an insightful blog post, he does just that, focusing on the work behind the scenes that has helped to make Duke University Press as successfull as it has become.
In a world a-buzz over the technologies of self-publishing and research data repositories, Wissoker reminds us of the importance peer review and editorial guidance have on the shape of the humanities and qualitative social sciences. Questioning arguments which herald the demise of university press book, he articulates a key difference between a report on one’s research and the proper work of the book.
Publication in the humanities and social sciences isn’t the reporting of research. It’s the production of a compelling argument, based on a combination of research and interpretation.”
By drawing our attention to this process, Wissoker contributes to a wider critique of an industry that too often sees knowledge as the direct result of the exchange of information, and libraries and publishers simply as the machinery of information transfer. By opening up the labor of the editorial and review process, he reveals the social form of the book. Rather than seeing it simply as a physical or digital vessel for content, one that serves as an obstacle between the reader and her or his access to pure research, the book is reimagined as dialogue between facts, interpretations and critical arguments, a conversation that is aided by the work of external reviewers and editors. In this light, the best books in the humanities and social sciences, not only transport facts, but take the reader through the construction of those facts by unfolding both the research process and the relationships which affect its trajectory.
Wissoker’s argument in favor of a broader recognition of the social relationships of knowledge production may positively influence the way we imagine libraries too. It may help us to better organize the information environment of tomorrow by bringing into focus one the library’s most essential roles, its function as a generator and facillitator of compelling arguments.
See Ken Wissoker’s article posted on Scholarly Kitchen here:
For more of Ken Wissoker’s thoughts, see the interviews Adeline Koh has conducted with him for the Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning with “On Monographs, Libraries and Blogging”. See:
Why was an entire academic philosophy department moved to draft and circulate a critique of one of the latest trends to hit academia? Now that you’ve read David Michalski’s previous post on the promise of “slow research,” for those looking beyond the murky hype surrounding online education, read this incisive and thought-provoking analysis of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from The Stanford Daily. (Stanford University is the home of Coursera, one of the earlier attempts to develop a MOOC curriculum).