I am traveling for over a month this summer, so it is challenging to get much work done. The main concern now is to make some progress on urban renewal site for Myeong. We had an event for invited guests to hear about the project before the public rollout of the site, but there are still some basic data issues to fix. I also have to start working on a description of the project to publish on the university scholarship archive.
Made it through the semester! After putting together my presentation on the Sarajevo analysis, I realized that the project was a failure in some ways. Part of this is just that the whole thing happened before Twitter began, but also the issues discussed by Americans about the issues of library destruction did not really get at what they think the purpose of libraries might be. I have to rethink the whole project. It might not include Sarajevo, which would be a shame. I still think it is a topic that lets me discuss the importance of libraries, but maybe not what librarians think. Anyway, my goal for the summer is to turn that analysis into something I can present at a conference with a substantial rewrite that needs some thought.
I keep reworking my basic project, but experience with putting together some proposals and generally looking at what people are funding has made me think more about urban space and national myth-making. So, once again totally reworked everything. I am going to try to think about why people thought that they needed and why big academic institutions were the place to have them. The Cultural Studies angle on all of this is still not clear, but thinking about my classes this semester and the requirements that are left has also worked to shape what the chapter structure might look like. I don’t like being wasteful. I gave my presentation on urban renewal for the JMU conference. Everything went fine. The group was very international and much smaller than it could have been and larger than I feared. Not many people from JMU or Virginia were interested. I had the most interesting, concrete topic, but that did not lead to a lot of questions. Have to work on that. I am giving a presentation on the same paper for the iConference in Beijing at the end of the month. It is really looming and I just don’t have time to think about it. I am working on my Twitter project from last semester. I continue to have problems getting the archive search to work, so my attention has been sucked into the presentation I am giving on it for cultural studies in April. Very bad news for me. But I did get all of my deployment issues fixed by moving everything to the slow process of the Mason website and giving up on github and all of its hangers on.
I thought that I had a good idea developed for a proposal for HathiTrust, but they did not think that it worked for them. I had started thinking on how it could fit into my disseration. Now I am at a loss, truthfully, Does this mean I should rethink my dissertation substantially, or just forget the whole thing. Part of the problem is that it connects to my expertise finding stuff in digital archives but almost nothing else that I have studied. I keep cutting back the number of my case studies. If my focus is libraries, academia, and American power, it is hard to leave out ethnographic studies. Maybe it should be something on the power of the book. How we only respect cultures that produce books.
Each chapter is basically an aritcle and two panel papers.
Culture, collecting, scholarship, and power/Specific efforts to preserve US/Modern ramifications
The struggle continues, but I think that I have turned a corner in actually looking at more libraries and more issues. That will free me up to talk about specific cultural studies ideas and apply them to specific examples. I run the risk of just having a series of case studies. But I think that this will help to keep it interesting. One thing I would like to track is opposition to Communism across the whole century. That way I can talk about Nicaragua and Armenia without it being too forced. Also, I won’t be locked in to archival study too badly.
Really struggling with the whole concept of my disseration. Once again. Everything that I come up with just seems like more of the same from everyone these days. I want to say something that is from my own self. I want it to not be taken from the air, but something unique. Though maybe saying that universities are hypocrites is not really being all that deep to begin with.
If I did not work at the library and did not want to talk about American history, what would I be willing to talk about for ten years? I still like the idea of nationalism, medievalism, and conflict. I was really excited about the notion of working with a body of manuscript sources, but I ran ideas on where to find things. Maybe I should think about American sources of European tragedies.
Had a bit of trouble finishing up my work on the urban renewal short paper this weekend, but luckily at the last minute they pushed back the deadline, so I can try to make it a real piece of scholarship still. This is after giving up on getting my own paper ready for that conference. I think I am going to just try to have my social media project actually be something worth proposing. This will bring me down to four projects to work on this semester.
I think I am getting closer. My ideas only really work if I think about it as a habilitation that is going to be huge. What I want to do is interweave JHU, Princeton, Hoover, and UCLA with Armenia, Korea, Nicaragua, and Poland. These will come together more tightly in my final four chapters on access and community. For Poland I am currently focusing on Posnan but I don’t know if that will work for Poland, let alone to look at an individual town for the other three countries.
Once again, I am questioning my direction on the dissertation. The two biggest issues are that it always seems like I am just picking up on topics that are in the air, not being very original and that I have not found anything that will interest me for the years it takes to finish. Whether I really want to come anywhere near Woodrow Wilson is part of the complication on that score. If I wanted to do something completely different, what would that be? I don’t think that anyone really cares about Wilson in any interesting way.
I have long been interested in Americans buying up medieval texts in the twentieth century. That fits in well with current projects on tracking book sales, but they leave me feeling that I will look like I am following trends and don’t have anything to add.
What would be new topics? Medieval texts in refugee camps. Positive nationalism. Returning texts. Destroying medieval libraries. Digital nationalism. Comparing Yugoslavia with Ethiopia. 100 Years of Americans: Yugoslavia, Palestine, Tanzania, Namibia, Samoa. 100 years of Americans: American Samoa, Germany, Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, Korea, Vietnam, Haiti. Special Collections and American Power: Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Texas.
I have decided to make the main point of my iconference paper on sussing out the multiple publics that use a digital humanities project. Qualitative data makes it a CAS project, but the final product can be considered a DH project. Or at least a DH resource. So, what we need to know is why is it important to consider multiple publics, how do we determine their needs, how do we meet their needs. The Data with a Human Face project is really computer science and it uses archives, so I need to decide if I really want to make the digital humanities aspect a big part of the paper.
I have put together a list of what I need to accomplish for this semester. Things are still pretty messed up with Covid-19 and some other hiccups at the start of the semester, so it still feels like we are struggling to deal with the pandemic and with gettings school to work. The main thing right now is to get a ton of reading done on computer stuff so that I can try to get a paper together for the iconference in Beijing.