Machine Reading the Archive
The aim of the reading group sessions is to explore texts from a range of disciplines which grapple with the fundamental questions underlying the programme:
- What is an archive?
- Who makes archives?
- How are archives used?
- Are archives in the digital age different to their predecessors?
Each session is structured around a theme, for which we have proposed a set of key readings, however we will be asking participants to submit their own suggestions for additional readings for each theme in order to build up a programme reading-list. Add your suggestions on the Etherpad here
Reading group sessions take place in Room 5, History Faculty
A sandwich lunch will be provided, so please book online for each session to help us cater accurately
Session 1: Tuesday 21 February 12-1.30pm
Archives as infrastructure
Convened by: Lukas Engelmann and Anne Alexander
Archives are infrastructures in more ways than one: they require both organisation and physical facilities to operate, and are often integrated into larger infrastructures of the state, of cultural heritage and educational institutions or of corporations. Our readings for this session invite reflection on the infrastructural qualities of the archive in the digital age. What changes when the archive is no longer a building or a room preserving and providing access to paper documents or other media on site, but a node in a network which can be accessed remotely?
Hilary Jenkinson, 1922, A manual of archive administration including the problems of war archives and archive making, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, pp1-22
Moss, M. S. 2008, ‘Opening Pandora’s Box - What Is an Archive in the Digital Environment?’ In What Are Archives? Cultural and Theoretical Perspectives: A Reader, edited by L. Craven, 71-89. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Session 2: Tuesday 28 February 12-1.30pm
Archives in practice
Convened by: Lukas Engelmann
A visit to the archives is an essential rite of passage en route to becoming a professional historian, Carolyn Steedman observes in her essay ‘After the Archive’. Our readings this session focus on the practices associated with the different professions associated with the archive, and ask how these have changed with the creation of digital collections.
Steedman, Carolyn, 2011, ‘After the Archive’, Comparative Critical Studies, 8, pp321-340, http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/ccs.2011.0026
Huc-Hepher, Saskia. "Big Web Data, Small Focus: An Ethnosemiotic Approach to Culturally Themed Selective Web Archiving." Big Data & Society 2, no. 2 (December 27, 2015): 2053951715595823. doi:10.1177/2053951715595823.
Session 3: Tuesday 14 March 12-1.30pm
Archives as collections
Convened by: Anne Alexander
Our final session will investigate the changing nature of the archive from the perspective of its contents. We will examine the concept of the document and the record, analyse the status of files and folders, and explore the relationship between the collection and the archive. We will ask whether digital archives remain merely simulators of their paper equivalents, or whether something fundamental has changed when they are partially constituted by decisions enshrined in computer code?
Manoff, Marlene, 2010, ‘Archive and Database as Metaphor: Theorizing the Historical Record’ Libraries and the Academy 10 (4): 385–98, https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/71216/Manoff10.4.pdf?sequence=1
Gitelman, Lisa, 2014, ‘Near print and beyond paper. Knowing by *.pdf’, Paper Knowledge: towards a media history of documents, pp111- 135, Duke University Press, (online access available via the UL, log-in with Raven to view).
Further readings and links
Bowker, Geoffrey C., Susan Leigh Star, Sorting Things Out. Classification and Its Consequences. Inside Technology. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1999.
Daston, Lorraine. "The Sciences of the Archive." Osiris 27, no. 1 (January 1, 2012): 156–87. doi:10.1086/667826.
Ogilvie, Brian. "Scientific Archives in the Age of Digitization." Isis 107, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 77–85. doi:10.1086/686075.
Issue Number Six: The Total Archive
Craven, Louise. What Are Archives?: Cultural and Theoretical Perspectives: A Reader. Routledge, 2016. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qPSNCwAAQBAJ