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Preserve the Humanities! Special Collections as Liberal Arts Laboratory

The conference will feature three plenary panels around the theme of the role of special collections libraries in the context of larger trends in the humanities and higher education. Speakers will focus on collaborative partnerships forged amongst archivists, librarians, researchers, and teaching faculty and position libraries as laboratories for the liberal arts and sciences. We believe that, despite claims of the so-called crisis in or demise of the humanities, higher education in the liberal arts and sciences remains as sought after as ever. As stewards of cultural heritage and guardians of the historical artifacts that lie at the center of humanistic research, special collections librarians can and should play an important role in shaping liberal arts teaching and research. In addition to the plenaries, there will be many varied formats and smaller sessions in which this theme will be explored as well.

PLENARY 1: The Big Picture

The opening plenary will present broad issues in the humanities in conjunction with recent trends in higher education. It will consider how forces in both arenas affect special collections librarianship and, in particular, how they provide opportunities for special collections to shape the future of liberal arts education. Speakers will approach special collections as the raw materials of the liberal arts and sciences. They will consider the meaning and impact of special collections as they are made available in physical spaces designed to foster formal collaboration and informal exchange, and also when technological resources are leveraged to create virtual research environments where students and scholars interact with these raw materials to inform humanistic inquiry.

PLENARY 2: Special Collections Libraries as Liberal Arts Laboratories

The second plenary will take a more in-depth look at special collections as liberal arts laboratories, and special collections librarians as collaborators in humanistic scholarship. Speakers who have created wide ranging digital humanities projects and tools that rest squarely on a special collections foundation will participate in a conversation about the ways our work-and the traditional and virtual spaces we create-can enable researchers to interact with special collections as a basis for experimentation with new research methods, new lines of inquiry, and new ways of meaningfully engaging with scholarly and public audiences.

PLENARY 3: Building And Leveraging Collections to Support and Shape the Humanities

The final plenary will explore the ways we can develop collections and work collaboratively to shape humanistic inquiry. Speakers who are creating special collections outside the traditional bounds of the academic library will engage in a discussion about new and emerging partnerships and ways of building, maintaining, and providing access to special collections as a means of creating and supporting communities. With this foundation, participants will map practical, meaningful connections amongst our collections, constituencies, and service missions.

 

PLENARY ONE: THE BIG PICTURE

Speakers:

Janice Radway

Janice Radway

Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies and Director, Gender and Sexuality Program, Northwestern University

Janice Radway is Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Northwestern University. Radway is past president of the American Studies Association and former editor of the journal, American Quarterly, and is widely known for her scholarship on readers, reading, books, and the history of middlebrow culture. Currently, Radway is working on an oral history of girls, their underground publishing efforts during the 1990s, and their subsequent lives.

 

Elaine Tennant

Elaine Tennant

James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library and Professor of German, University of California, Berkeley

Elaine Tennant, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library, is Professor in the Departments of German and Scandinavian and affiliated with the Program in Medieval Studies. Her main areas of research are Habsburg court society in the early modern period, development of the German language in the late Middle Ages, and the Middle High German narrative tradition. Her current research focuses on the reception of Maximilian’s Theuerdank and early European responses to first contacts with Mexico.

 

Discussant:

Neil Safier

Neil Safier

Director and Librarian, John Carter Brown Library and Associate Professor of History, Brown University

Neil Safier is the Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library and Associate Professor of History at Brown University. His scholarship includes early modern cultural and intellectual history and the history of science. As director of the John Carter Brown Library he has focused his efforts on engaging the Library’s many constituencies and transforming the Library’s material and technological infrastructure to ensure that it remains a world-class environment for humanistic research well into the future.

PLENARY TWO: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARIES AS LIBERAL ARTS LABORATORIES

Speakers:

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Associate Professor of English Literature, Swarthmore College

Rachel Sagner Buurma is Associate Professor of English Literature at Swarthmore College, where she works on Victorian literature and culture, the novel, and book history. She is finishing a book on the material history of narrative omniscience, beginning one on the research practices of Victorian novelists, and is working on a history of English studies titled “The Teaching Archive” with Laura Heffernan (University of North Florida). Along with Jon Shaw (University of Pennsylvania Libraries), she co-directs the Early Novels Database.

 

Kimberly Christen Withey

Kimberly Christen Withey

Co-Director, Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, Director of Digital Projects, Plateau Center, Native American Programs Associate Director, Digital Technology and Culture Program, Washington State University

Kimberly Christen Withey’s work explores the intersections of cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, the ethics of openness, and the use of digital technologies in and by indigenous communities globally. She is the Director of several digital humanities projects including: the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal, Mukurtu CMS, and the Sustainable Heritage Network, and is co-Director of Local Contexts, an educational platform traditional knowledge licenses and labels. See also her website: www.kimchristen.com, or follow her on twitter @Mukurtu.

 

Discussant:

Sarah Werner

Sarah Werner

Digital Media Strategist, Folger Shakespeare Library

Sarah Werner is Digital Media Strategist at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the former director of the Folger’s Undergraduate Program. She is the editor of, and writes regularly for, the Folger’s research blog, The Collation, and has published widely on Shakespeare, performance, book history, and digital media. She is currently writing a handbook on early printed books intended for use by teachers and students working with special collections. More information about that project, and others, can be found on her blog, Wynken de Worde.

 

PLENARY THREE: BUILDING AND LEVERAGING COLLECTIONS TO SUPPORT AND SHAPE THE HUMANITIES

Speakers:

Rick Prelinger

Rick Prelinger

Co-Founder, Prelinger Library and Prelinger Archives, and Associate Professor, Film & Digital Media, University of California, Santa Cruz

Rick Prelinger is an archivist, writer, filmmaker, and outsider librarian. He founded Prelinger Archives, a collection of industrial, advertising, educational, and amateur films, later acquired by the Library of Congress, and is a board member of the Internet Archive. He and Megan Prelinger co-founded the Prelinger Library, an appropriation-friendly private research library open to the public in downtown San Francisco. His archival work currently focuses on collecting, recontextualizing, and exhibiting home movies and amateur films.

 

Gordon H. Chang

Gordon H. Chang

Professor of History and Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities, Stanford University

Gordon Chang is professor of history and the Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities at Stanford University. He is also the current director of the Center for East Asian Studies and co-director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, a multidisciplinary and international research project engaged in a comprehensive effort to recover and interpret the experiences of Chinese workers who labored on the first transcontinental line in the United States. He is the author of numerous works on Asian American history and America-East Asia relations.

 

Discussant:

Chris Bourg

Chris Bourg

Director of Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chris Bourg is Director of Libraries at MIT where she also has oversight of the MIT Press. Previously she served in a variety of leadership positions within the Stanford University Libraries where she was most recently associate university librarian for public services. She is keenly interested in issues of diversity and inclusion in higher education; and in the role libraries play in advancing social justice and democracy. She has written and spoken extensively on these topics. She blogs at Feral Librarian, and tweets from @mchris4duke.

 


Sponsors

 

University of California Berkeley Library - Sponsor Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America - Sponsor Aeon - Atlas Systems -Sponsor Brick Row Book Shop - Sponsor ccs: content conversion specialists - Sponsor William Reese Company - Sponsor