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Uncommon Sense

By oieahc · June 20, 2018

Critical Archives Plenary at #OIAnnual2018: The Afterlife of Conferences

digital projects 6 min read

The Omohundro Institute thanks the many scholars who made #OIAnnual2018 such a success. If you have a blog post, bibliography, or other materials related to the conference that you would like to share please contact Martha Howard.

by Karin Wulf

The OI’s 24th annual conference this past weekend, in honor of our 75th anniversary, will get its own round-up blog posts. Suffice to say, the scholarly exchange was intense and rewarding, the plenary sessions were engaging and provocative, and the receptions let us show off the best of Williamsburg and William & Mary. A special thanks to our friends at Historic Jamestown for a spectacular Saturday evening of music, food and drink along the river, and tours of the extraordinary research they’re doing.

But this is a quick post to note that conferences have long afterlives. Conversations turn into collaborations, presentations spark new research or teaching strategies, plenaries can provoke debates with long and productive consequences. We have played with different ways to reflect that and with our new website will be launching some pages that allow us to highlight conference work for future reference.

For now, we wanted to get to you quickly a bibliography of work referenced in Sunday’s closing plenary session on “Critical Archival Turns in Vast Early America.”

The panel—Sharon Block (“The Digital Turn: Archives, Method, and Scale”), Ryan Kashanipour, and Elizabeth Losh (“Little Data and Vast Early America”)—offered distinctive but complementary perspectives on the ways that some of the most important questions and lines of inquiry about how we know what we know, about knowledge production, and in particular about how “archives” are made. How is the evidence of the past made the evidence of the past? By what alchemy does material—text, object, image—come to be regarded as evidence? These questions about what we know, why we think we know it, and why we have been able to—or prodded to—know or not know it, reverberated through the conference.

The speakers referenced the following scholarship on archives, methodology, digital humanities, and questions about “data” (big, little, meta, material, tabular):

Sharon Block, “Doing More with Digitization: An Introduction to Topic Modeling of Early American Sources,” Common-Place (January, 2006).

Sharon Block and David J. Newman, “Probalistic Decomposition of an Eighteenth-Century American Newspaper,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (April, 2006).

Francis X. Blouin Jr. and William G. Rosenberg, Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives (2011).

Christine Borgman, Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015).

Antoinette Burton, ed., Archive Stories: Facts, Fiction, and the Writing of History (2006).

Jacques Derrida and Eric Prenowitz, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (1998).

Arlette Farge, The Allure of the Archives (2013).

Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge: & the Discourse on Language (1972).

Marisa Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence and the Archive (2016).

Lisa Gitelman, ed. Raw Data is an Oxymoron (2013).

The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Jessica Marie Johnson,” by Melissa Dinsman, Los Angeles Review of Books (July 23, 2016).

Elizabeth Losh, “Reading Room(s): Building a National Archive in Digital Spaces and Physical Places,” Literary and Linguistic Computing (September, 2004).

Safiya Noble, Algorithims of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (2018).

Bethany Nowviskie, “Reconstitute the World“.

Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (2009).

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995).

The speakers referenced the following archives, digital humanities projects, and digital scholarship:

Archivio General de la Nacion

Digital Aponte

Georgetown Slavery Archive

Papers of the War Department

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project

The Washington Papers






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