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Medieval manuscripts are our shared inheritance, and today they are more accessible than ever—thanks to digital copies online. Yet for all that widespread digitization has fundamentally transformed how we connect with the medieval past, we understand very little about what these digital objects really are. We rarely consider how they are made or who makes them. This case study-rich book demystifies digitization, revealing what it's like to remake medieval books online and connecting modern digital manuscripts to their much longer media history, from print, to photography, to the rise of the internet. Examining classic late-1990s projects like Digital Scriptorium 1.0 alongside late-2010s initiatives like Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis, and world-famous projects created by the British Library, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, Stanford University, and the Walters Art Museum against in-house digitizations performed in lesser-studied libraries, Whearty tells never-before-published narratives about globally important digital manuscript archives. Drawing together medieval literature, manuscript studies, digital humanities, and imaging sciences, Whearty shines a spotlight on the hidden expert labor responsible for today's revolutionary digital access to medieval culture. Ultimately, this book argues that centering the modern labor and laborers at the heart of digital cultural heritage fosters a more just and more rigorous future for medieval, manuscript, and media studies.
Across the humanities and social sciences, scholars increasingly use quantitative methods to study textual data. Considered together, this research represents an extraordinary event in the long history of textuality. More or less all at once, the corpus has emerged as a major genre of cultural and scientific knowledge. In Literary Mathematics, Michael Gavin grapples with this development, describing how quantitative methods for the study of textual data offer powerful tools for historical inquiry and sometimes unexpected perspectives on theoretical issues of concern to literary studies. Student-friendly and accessible, the book advances this argument through case studies drawn from the Early English Books Online corpus. Gavin shows how a copublication network of printers and authors reveals an uncannily accurate picture of historical periodization; that a vector-space semantic model parses historical concepts in incredibly fine detail; and that a geospatial analysis of early modern discourse offers a surprising panoramic glimpse into the period's notion of world geography. Across these case studies, Gavin challenges readers to consider why corpus-based methods work so effectively and asks whether the successes of formal modeling ought to inspire humanists to reconsider fundamental theoretical assumptions about textuality and meaning. As Gavin reveals, by embracing the expressive power of mathematics, scholars can add new dimensions to digital humanities research and find new connections with the social sciences.
Shadow Plays explores popular forms of entertainment used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to transport viewers to a new world, foreshadowing present-day virtual, augmented, and extended reality experiences (VR, AR, and XR). Typically studied as part of the prehistory of cinema or the archaeology of media, analog technologies such as the mondo nuovo or cosmorama, the magic lantern, the moving panorama, and the stereoscope evoked shadow copies of our world long before the advent of digital technologies and exercised a powerful pull on minds and imaginations. Through six case histories and eight interactive simulations, Massimo Riva explores themes of virtual travel, social surveillance, and utopian imagination, shedding light on illustrious or, in some instances, forgotten figures and inventions from Italy's past. Arguing for the continuity of experience and imagination, Riva adopts the term virtual realism, an experience marked by the virtualization of the real and the realization of the virtual. At a time when the gap between simulations and "real" experiences is getting ever smaller, a cultural-historical exploration of the prehistory of virtual reality can help us better understand the present in light of the past while exploring the past using the tools forged in the present.
A series of intellectual provocations that investigate the creative process across the human-nonhuman spectrum. Is it possible that creative artists have more in common with machines than we might think? Employing an improvisational call-and-response writing performance coauthored with an AI text generator, remix artist and scholar Mark Amerika, interrogates how his own "psychic automatism" is itself a nonhuman function strategically designed to reveal the poetic attributes of programmable worlds still unimagined. Through a series of intellectual provocations that investigate the creative process across the human-nonhuman spectrum, Amerika critically reflects on whether creativity itself is, at root, a nonhuman information behavior that emerges from an onto-operational presence experiencing an otherworldly aesthetic sensibility. Amerika engages with his cyberpunk imagination to simultaneously embrace and problematize human-machine collaborations. He draws from jazz performance, beatnik poetry, Buddhist thought, and surrealism to suggest that his own artificial creative intelligence operates as a finely tuned remix engine continuously training itself to build on the history of avant-garde art and writing. Playful and provocative, My Life as an Artificial Creative Intelligence flips the script on contemporary AI research that attempts to build systems that perform more like humans, instead self-reflexively making a very nontraditional argument about AI's impact on society and its relationship to the cosmos.
For some, automation will usher in a labor-free utopia; for others, it signals a disastrous age-to-come. Yet whether seen as dream or nightmare, automation, argues Munn, is ultimately a fable that rests on a set of triple fictions. There is the myth of full autonomy, claiming that machines will take over production and supplant humans. But far from being self-acting, technical solutions are piecemeal; their support and maintenance reveals the immense human labor behind "autonomous" processes. There is the myth of universal automation, with technologies framed as a desituated force sweeping the globe. But this fiction ignores the social, cultural, and geographical forces that shape technologies at a local level. And, there is the myth of automating everyone, the generic figure of "the human" at the heart of automation claims. But labor is socially stratified and so automation's fallout will be highly uneven, falling heavier on some (immigrants, people of color, women) than others. Munn moves from machine minders in China to warehouse pickers in the United States to explore the ways that new technologies do (and don't) reconfigure labor. Combining this rich array of human stories with insights from media and cultural studies, Munn points to a more nuanced, localized, and racialized understanding of the "future of work."
Medieval books that survive today have been through a lot: singed by fire, mottled by mold, eaten by insects, annotated by readers, cut into fragments, or damaged through well-intentioned preservation efforts. In this book, Michelle Warren tells the story of one such manuscript—an Arthurian romance with textual origins in twelfth-century England now diffused across the twenty-first century internet. This trajectory has been propelled by a succession of technologies—from paper manufacture to printing to computers. Together, they have made literary history itself a cultural technology indebted to colonial capitalism. Bringing to bear media theory, medieval literary studies, and book history, Warren shows how digital infrastructures change texts and books, even very old ones. In the process, she uncovers a practice of "tech medievalism" that weaves through the history of computing since the mid-twentieth century; metaphors indebted to King Arthur and the Holy Grail are integral to some of the technologies that now sustain medieval books on the internet. This infrastructural approach to book history illuminates how the meaning of literature is made by many people besides canonical authors: translators, scribes, patrons, readers, collectors, librarians, cataloguers, editors, photographers, software programmers, and many more. Situated at the intersections of the digital humanities, library sciences, literary history, and book history, Holy Digital Grail offers new ways to conceptualize authorship, canon formation, and the definition of a "book."
In Networking Print in Shakespeare's England, Blaine Greteman uses new analytical tools to examine early English print networks and the systemic changes that reshaped early modern literature, thought, and politics. In early modern England, printed books were a technology that connected people—not only readers and writers, but an increasingly expansive community of printers, publishers, and booksellers—in new ways. By pairing the methods of network analysis with newly available digital archives, Greteman aims to change the way we usually talk about authorship, publication, and print. As Greteman reveals, network analysis of the nearly 500,000 books printed in England before 1800 makes it possible to speak once again of a "print revolution," identifying a sudden tipping point at which the early modern print network became a small world where information could spread in new and powerful ways. Along with providing new insights into canonical literary figures like Milton and Shakespeare, data analysis also uncovers the hidden histories of key figures in this transformation who have been virtually ignored. Both a primer on the power of network analysis and a critical intervention in early modern studies, the book is ultimately an extended meditation on agency and the complexity of action in context.
Notework begins with a striking insight: the writer's notebook is a genre in itself. Simon Reader pursues this argument in original readings of unpublished writing by prominent Victorians, offering an expansive approach to literary formalism for the twenty-first century. Neither drafts nor diaries, the notes of Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Vernon Lee, and George Gissing record ephemeral and nonlinear experiences, revealing each author's desire to leave their fragments scattered and unused. Presenting notes in terms of genre allows Reader to suggest inventive new accounts of key Victorian texts, including The Picture of Dorian Gray, On the Origin of Species, and Hopkins's devotional lyrics, and to reinterpret these works as meditations on the ethics of compiling and using data. In this way, Notework recasts information collection as a personal and expressive activity that comes into focus against large-scale systems of knowledge organization. Finding resonance between today's digital culture and its nineteenth-century precursors, Reader honors our most disposable, improvised, and fleeting written gestures.
Every event in human history has been a more-than-human event. When hunter-gatherers burn the land, they cooperate with herbs that seed quickly and grasses that sprout after fires, attracting game. Inside us, intestinal bacteria make it possible for us to digest our food. Other things, living and nonliving, make it possible to be human. Yet powerful habits of thought over the last centuries have made this statement less than obvious. With the arrival of the idea of the Anthropocene, we move away from such thinking to reconsider how human and nonhuman histories are inextricably intertwined. Convening over one hundred researchers to trace a whole range of such intertwinements, Feral Atlas offers an original and playful approach to studying the Anthropocene. Focused on the world's feral reactions to human intervention, the editors explore the structures and qualities that lie at the heart of the feral and make the phenomenon possible. This publication features original contributions by high-profile artists, humanists and scientists such as Amitav Ghosh, Elizabeth Fenn, Simon Lewis, Mark Maslin, and many others.
Utilizing 3D technologies, Constructing the Sacred addresses ancient ritual landscape from a unique perspective to examine development at the complex, long-lived archaeological site of Saqqara, Egypt. Sullivan focuses on how changes in the built and natural environment affected burial rituals at the temple due to changes in visibility. Flipping the top-down view prevalent in archeology to a more human-centered perspective puts the focus on the dynamic evolution of an ancient site that is typically viewed as static. Sullivan considers not just individual buildings, but re-contextualizes built spaces within the larger ancient landscape, engaging in materially-focused investigations of how monuments shape community memories and a culturally-specific sense of place, thus incorporating the qualitative aspects of human perception. 3D models promise to have great potential for research in a broad range of artifact- and object-based research, yet current technology does not allow for a robust environment of engaging with complex objects that change over time. This publication is among the first to push the boundaries to include interactive 3D models that can be navigated both spatially and temporally.
The Romantic poet's intense yearning to share thoughts and feelings often finds expression in a style that thwarts a connection with readers. Yohei Igarashi addresses this paradox by reimagining Romantic poetry as a response to the beginnings of the information age. Data collection, rampant connectivity, and efficient communication became powerful social norms during this period. The Connected Condition argues that poets responded to these developments by probing the underlying fantasy: the perfect transfer of thoughts, feelings, and information, along with media that might make such communication possible. This book radically reframes major poets and canonical poems. Igarashi considers Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a stenographer, William Wordsworth as a bureaucrat, Percy Shelley amid social networks, and John Keats in relation to telegraphy, revealing a shared attraction and skepticism toward the dream of communication. Bringing to bear a singular combination of media studies, the history of communication, sociology, rhetoric, and literary history, The Connected Condition proposes new accounts of literary difficulty and Romanticism. Above all, this book shows that the Romantic poets have much to teach us about living with the connected condition and the fortunes of literature in it.
The field of text technologies is a capacious analytical framework that focuses on all textual records throughout human history, from the earliest periods of traceable communication—perhaps as early as 60,000 BCE—to the present day. At its core, it examines the material history of communication: what constitutes a text, the purposes for which it is intended, how it functions, and the social ends that it serves. This coursebook can be used to support any pedagogical or research activities in text technologies, the history of the book, the history of information, and textually based work in the digital humanities. Through careful explanations of the field, examinations of terminology and themes, and illustrated case studies of diverse texts—from the Cyrus cylinder to the Eagles' "Hotel California"—Elaine Treharne and Claude Willan offer a clear yet nuanced overview of how humans convey meaning. Text Technologies will enable students and teachers to generate multiple lines of inquiry into how communication—its production, form and materiality, and reception—is crucial to any interpretation of culture, history, and society.
Black Quotidian explores everyday lives of African Americans in the twentieth century. Drawing on an archive of digitized African-American newspapers, Matthew F. Delmont guides readers through a wealth of primary resources that reveal how the Black press popularized African-American history and valued the lives of both famous and ordinary Black people. Claiming the right of Black people to experience and enjoy the mundane aspects of daily life has taken on a renewed resonance in the era of Black Lives Matter, an era marked by quotidian violence, fear, and mourning. Framed by introductory chapters on the history of Black newspapers, a trove of short posts on individual newspaper stories brings the rich archive of African-American newspapers to life, giving readers access to a variety of media objects, including videos, photographs, and music. By presenting this layer as a blog with 365 daily entries, the author offers a critique of Black History Month as a limiting initiative and emphasizes the need to explore beyond the iconic figures and moments that have come to stand in for the complexity of African-American history. Themes highlighted include, among others, civil rights, arts, sports, politics, and women's lives. As a work of digital history, Black Quotidian models an innovative approach to research exploration and scholarly communication. As a teaching resource, it fosters self-driven exploration of primary resources within and beyond the curriculum.
In the past decade alone, more than ten million corpses have been exhumed and reburied across the Chinese landscape. The campaign has transformed China's graveyards into sites of acute personal, social, political, and economic contestation. In this digital volume, three historians of China, Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke, Christian Henriot, and Thomas S. Mullaney, chart out the history of China's rapidly shifting deathscape. Each essay grapples with a different dimension of grave relocation and burial reform in China over the past three centuries: from the phenomenon of "baby towers" in the Lower Yangzi region of late imperial China, to the histories of death in the city of Shanghai, and finally to the history of grave relocation during the contemporary period, examined by Mullaney, when both its scale and tempo increased dramatically. Rounding off these historical analyses, a colophon by platform developers David McClure and Glen Worthey speaks to new reading methodologies emerging from a format in which text and map move in concert to advance historical argumentation.
Filming Revolution investigates documentary and independent filmmaking in Egypt since the Egyptian Revolution began in 2011. It brings together the collective wisdom and creative strategies of thirty filmmakers, artists, activists, and archivists who share their thoughts and experiences of filmmaking in those heady times. Rather than merely building an archive of video interviews, Alisa Lebow constructs a collaborative project, joining her interviewees in conversation to investigate questions about the evolving forms of political filmmaking. The interviews can be explored via their connections to each other, across parameters such as themes, projects, or people. Each constellation of material allows users to engage in a curated conversation that creates a dialogue between filmmakers operating in the same space but who may not necessarily know of each other's work or ideas. Topics highlighted range from the role of activism in filming to the limits of representation or the impact of practical considerations of production and distribution. The innovative constellatory design of Filming Revolution makes an aesthetic commentary about the experience of the revolution, its fragmented development, and its shifting meanings, thereby advancing arguments about political documentary via both content and form, simultaneously re-imagining formats of political documentary and scholarly communication.
The Mahra people of the southern Arabian Peninsula have no written language but instead possess a rich oral tradition. Samuel Liebhaber takes readers on a tour through their poetry, collected by the author in audio and video recordings over the course of several years. Based on this material, Liebhaber developed a systematic approach to Mahri poetry that challenges genre-based categorizations of oral poetry from the Arabian Peninsula. By taking into account all Mahri poetic expressions—the majority of which don't belong to any of the known genres of Arabian poetry—Liebhaber creates a blueprint for understanding how oral poetry is conceived and composed by native practitioners. Each poem is embedded in a conceptual framework that highlights formal similarities between them and recapitulates how Mahri poets craft poems and how their audiences are primed to receive them. The web-based medium allows users not only to delve into the classification system to explore the diversity and complexity of the Mahra's poetic expressions, but also to experience the formation of a poem in the moment. Through a series of questions designed to define the social context in which a poem is being created, the reader is taken on an experiential tour through the corpus that highlights the embeddedness of poetry in the Mahras' everyday practices.
Every year, a staggering five million visitors flock to the Grand Canyon to view its sweeping vistas. One of the most remarkable wonders of the natural world, the Grand Canyon has become a symbol of the American West—its Indian heritage, its pioneer spirit, its sublime beauty. It is one of the most photographed landmarks in America, and one of its earliest photographers was Henry G. Peabody. In 1879, Peabody, a member of both the Chicago Electrical Society and the Chicago Photographic Society, was the first to use electricity to project lantern slides, becoming a father of the modern slideshow. Recognizing an opportunity to promote migration and tourism, western railroads and postcard companies hired Peabody to document the natural beauty of the American frontier. Awed by its exotic landscape, Peabody turned his collection of photographs into an audio-visual slideshow that enabled thousands of people from Boston to Chicago and beyond to experience a mode of vicarious travel through electricity, sound, and photography. Peabody's original slideshow was possible only through advances in 19th-century technology, so it is a particularly fitting subject for this groundbreaking 21st-century digital-born, interactive scholarly publication. Originating from the Spatial History Project within the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford, Nicholas Bauch's Enchanting the Desert is a careful examination of Henry Peabody's early-twentieth-century slideshow of the Grand Canyon. By placing this study within the spatial framework of the Canyon itself, and embellishing Peabody's slideshow with rich overlays created through GIS mapping and virtual recreations of the canyon topography, Bauch has created a digital prototype for studying historical and cultural geography. Enchanting the Desert also includes 80 essays on human geographical aspects of the Canyon, ranging from Native American habitation and names, through the physical hurdles overcome by Peabody as he created the slideshow, to the consequences of the image choices Peabody made on future access and tourism within the canyon. The result of deep archival research in the Huntington Library, employing the traditional tools of the historian and geographer, Bauch raises and answers questions only a born-digital project could make possible, and reveals a previously hidden geography of a landmark that has come to define the American West.