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.

Janet Napolitano on Online Courses in Higher Ed

July 30th, 2014 by Michael Winter

For some thoughtful and very incisive observations on onine education in the research university, read about or watch UC President Janet Napolitano’s recent policy address on this issue.

Why Bother to Learn Foreign Languages?

July 24th, 2014 by Michael Winter

As the fashionable cant of the day has it, who needs foreign languages?–the kind of sentiments by which we know and love such towering intellects as Lawrence Summers and too many others to mention. All the essentially insightful counterarguments to the contrary–national security, globalization, improving diplomatic relations, working with crucial trading partners, etc–a recent article on the subject kind of hit the nail on the head by observing that “Maybe it’s less about knowing how to conjugate verbs, and more about just not being an asshole.”

New Resources – More!

July 2nd, 2014 by Marcia Meister

The following new resources or databases were recently added. They will be included in the list of databases, the Harvest Catalog, and our Subject Guides.

British Periodicals (Proquest; late 17th Century to early 20th Century)

Trench Journals and Unit Magazines (Proquest) WWI Journals

Congressional Research Digital Collection – Congressional Research Service Reports (Proquest; CRS Reports 2004-2010)

Colonial State Papers (Chadwyck-Healy/Proquest)

Twentieth Century Parliamentary Papers

New Resources & Databases!

July 1st, 2014 by Marcia Meister

The following new resources have been licensed for UC or UC Davis users.  They will be added to our Subject Guides, the Harvest Catalog and to our list of Databases.

Gale Archival Collections:

Adam Matthew:

Oxford:
Oxford  Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine

Oxford Handbooks Online – New or renewed

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.

Google Translate Gets Big Laughs

June 25th, 2014 by Michael Winter

Google Translate can prove useful–but watch out for hilarious, unintentionally absurd renderings.Try out a few phrases and see what you think.  For example, I entered a German language sentence containing the name of a friend—Hanno Kaiser–and it gave me “Hanno Emperor.”  And by way of Englishing the well-known French language phrase “Tu sais meme pas a quoi s’en tenir,” it gives “You know what has not even stick.”

New Book on Georges Canguilhem

June 24th, 2014 by Michael Winter

Nowdays Canguilhem is probably better known as Michel Foucault’s mentor, but in his day he was a major French philosopher and historian of science, as this collection of articles reveals. For the basic bibliographic description and more information about the library’s copy, check the Harvest library catalog record.  The cover art is a reproduction of a painting by Maurice Matieu that is based on some lines from Henri Michaux.

Richard N. Schwab Papers

June 22nd, 2014 by Michael Winter

Richard N. Schwab taught in the history department at UC, Davis. The two linear feet of papers he donated to the Shields Library Department of Special Collections relate specifically to his lifelong work on the French Encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert–or, as it is more formally known, Encyclopedie, ou Dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts et des metiers, which appeared in fascicles and then eventually as bound volumes between 1751 and 1765. Special Collections also owns an original 17 volume edition of this work, along with the numerous supplementary volumes of engraved illustrations/plates accompanying the text, as well as  other supplementary material issued along with the original text and plates.

Schwab’s contributions to the study of the Encyclopedie and indeed the study of the Enlightenment more generally are much too numerous to mention here, though it should be noted that he produced the English translation of the Preliminary discourse to the Encyclopedia contributed by D’Alembert.  A number of years ago Professor Schwab also began a fruitful collaboration with the University of Chicago and the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and participated in the eventual issue of a digital version of this landmark reference work.