Spring 2016

Filed Under Negro: Documenting Black Students at the University of Wisconsin, 1875-1940
Harvey Long
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tuesday, February 23, 12 p.m., Bunge Room, 4207 HC White Hall

SLIS MA student Harvey Long discusses his research on race and university archives via the process of searching for and discovering the records of students of color at the University of Wisconsin before 1940.

The Memory Exchange: Public Mourning at the National 9/11 Memorial Museum
Sarah Senk
University of Hartford

Watch the recording HERE

Thursday, March 10, 12 p.m. in 4191 Helen C. White Hall (inside the SLIS Library)

Implicit in the design of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum is the notion that its commemorative space affirms a pluralist collective of individuals who, despite their varying degrees of spatial or temporal proximity to “Ground Zero,” are encouraged to bear witness here and now. By radically broadening the notion of what constitutes a witness, the museum displaces a sense of unified historical time with the time of the individual subject, implying to visitors that the time that matters most is that of their own personal experience of “9/11,” even if that experience happens fifteen years later in the museum, and has no firsthand experiential antecedent. In this lecture, I examine how the museum produces an ostensibly all-inclusive notion of witness – a configuration whose inclusivity belies the ways in which it is premised upon the replication of the self-identical. If the traditional archive represents the past in isolation, the 9/11 Museum gestures to a fundamental re-articulation of what we think of as the there and then, constituting a new form of personal memory that is no longer based on proximal witnessing, but nevertheless comes to constitute historical knowledge.


Fall 2015 Schedule

2015 James P. Danky Fellowship Lecture: Radical Manifest Destiny: Urban Renewal, Colonialism, and Transnational American Identity in the Urban Spatial Politics of the Postwar Left
Kera Lovell, Purdue University

Watch a recording HERE

Thursday, October 15 at 4 p.m.
4191 Helen C. White Hall (inside the SLIS Library)

In this presentation, Kera Lovell will present a portion of her dissertation on the "People's Park" movement, titled "Radical Manifest Destiny: Urban Renewal, Colonialism, and Transnational American Identity in the Urban Spatial Politics of the Postwar Left." Beginning with Berkeley's People Park in 1969, coalitions of activists and students throughout the United States and abroad protested by permanently occupying vacant lots and converting them into shared socialist green spaces.  Ms. Lovell has documented more than three-dozen People’s Parks from Berkeley to South Africa, with nearly a dozen concentrated in the Midwest.  In her presentation Ms. Lovell will shed light on a few key case studies in an effort to understand the visual and rhetorical strategies activists used to equate their peaceful occupancies with territorial reclamations.  Ms. Lovell will conclude by presenting her preliminary findings on Madison's own activist-created park, James Rector's People's Park, and situate this site within a transnational movement of spatial and environmental protest.  

The Making of “Jack Kennedy Fans,” 1960
Kathryn Cramer Brownell
Assistant Professor of History, Purdue University

Thursday, November 12 at 4 p.m.
4191 Helen C. White Hall (inside the SLIS Library)

With his handsome looks and television savvy, John F. Kennedy is overwhelmingly remembered as the first “celebrity president.”  And yet, Kennedy’s celebrity status came from more than his successful performances on television.  The Massachusetts senator capitalized on a “showbiz” style rooted in California politics and the Hollywood studio system. The son of a former studio executive, Kennedy deployed a political version of the “Hollywood Dream Machine” to transform voters into “Jack Kennedy fans.”  On the primary trail, his campaign team used advertisements and announcements in the print media to stir interest in the senator’s personality and generate enthusiasm for his upcoming television appearances.  Just as Hollywood publicists saturated magazines and newspapers with information about a new star to promote forthcoming feature films, so too did Kennedy’s campaign plant stories and press announcements about the senator to turn out voters.  To assert his political credibility, Kennedy capitalized on these connections between visual and print culture, and his successful presidential bid convinced subsequent presidential contenders—from Nixon to Reagan to Obama—to do the same, ultimately making the Hollywood star system to become an integral component of modern American political life.  

Spring 2015 Schedule

CHPDC Annual Lecture
Mental Feasts: Practicing Abolitionism in Antebellum America

Dr. Mary Kelley
University of Michigan

Wednesday, April 29 at 4 p.m.

Over the course of her distinguished career, Professor Mary Kelley has been a pioneering figure in American women’s history and the history of the book in America. Her many books include Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford, 1984), Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life (UNC, 2006), and (as editor) An Extensive Republic: Print, Culture, and Society in the New Nation, the History of the Book in America Vol II. (UNC, 2010). In 2014, Professor Kelley was elected to the membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her research has been supported by the American Antiquarian Society, the Huntington Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation.

The Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture’s Distinguished Annual Lecture features leading researchers in book history, print culture, and digital culture. Past lecturers include Adrian Johns, Joan Shelley Rubin, Wayne Wiegand, and Lisa Gitelman.

Development of a Scale for Measuring Digitized Archival Document Trustworthiness Perception

Watch a recording HERE!

Brown Bag on Digital Curation
Mr. Devan Ray Donaldson
PhD Candidate at University of Michigan iSchool

Tuesday, February 3
12:00 to 1:15 p.m.
4191F Helen C White  Hall (4th floor, in SLIS Library)

How do people assess the trustworthiness of documents in archival repositories?  In this talk Donaldson will provide an overview of his project to develop instruments that can be used to measure the trustworthiness of digital documents from an end user perspective based on work with the Washington State Archives.

Devan majored in history at the College of William and Mary and went on to earn a master’s in library science at the University of North Carolina. He then entered the doctoral program at the University of Michigan School of Information, where he has built upon the foundation of his previous degrees by conducting research in digital preservation, digital curation, preservation management, preservation repositories, and the trustworthiness of curated data.


Fall 2014 Schedule

2014 Danky Fellowship Lecture

A Revolutionary Has No Gender: Black Women, the Radical Black Press, and Gender Roles in the Black Power Movement

Tuesday, October 21, 12-1 p.m.

Room 7191
7th Floor, Helen C. White Hall

Ashley Farmer
Duke University

The radical black press played an important role in developing and sustaining the black power movement through its pervasive challenge to American racism. These publications were also responsible for shaping male-centered perceptions of black power in the public sphere. This talk examines African American women’s use of the radical black press to challenge patriarchal conceptions of the black power activist. I argue that black women radicals debated, contested, and transformed the meaning of the black revolutionary figure through print culture, using letters, speeches, political tracts, and satirical drawings. Through an analysis of their contributions across the political spectrum, I show how African American women rhetorically and imagistically constructed a gendered revolutionary figure, while arguing for the primacy of black women in black power activism and ideology. Ultimately I show how black power print culture became a space for African American women to engage with black power ideals and reveal the importance of print culture to the gender politics of the black power movement.

Spring 2014 Schedule

Object as Interface: Our Changing Engagement with Texts

View the recording here.

Tuesday, February 25, 12-1 p.m.

Carrie Roy
Coordinator, Humanities Research Bridge
Postdoc, Living Environments Laboratory

The traditional form and function of books and texts, from Medieval manuscripts to modern printed pages, continues to excerpt heavy influence over common techniques for representing information and data.  This talk with present several projects and tools, developed by researchers across the UW Madison campus, that break with this convention to explore new methods of artistic and technology-driven representations and explorations of texts and data.  From the digital to the physical, these projects are essentially turning texts and data into objects, to shape new modes of engagement with and understanding of texts.

Fall 2013 Schedule

View a recording of What Became of Borders? here

Thursday, September 26, 4-5 p.m.

What Became of Borders?

Daniel Raff
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania


This talk concerns the Borders bookstore chain, discussing its origins as a used book store and, from 1971, an unusually broadly merchandised new book store on the periphery of the campus of a major Midwestern research university, its development into a national chain with at peak more than five hundred establishments, bringing broad merchandising of books to parts of America which had never before enjoyed such opportunities, and the company’s long slide into the bankruptcy which came in 2011.  The larger subject is the modern history, present, and future of the retail trade in books in the United States.


Tuesday, October 15, 12-1 p.m.

Danky Fellowship Lecture: Sex and Comix

View a recording of Sex and Comix here

Ian Blechschmidt
School of Communication
Northwestern University


Part of the underground publishing scene that helped to fuel the countercultural revolution, underground comix gained a following in the late sixties and early seventies with their scathing critiques of American culture and their depictions of violence, drugs, and especially sex. Many comix scholars point to the role that boundary-pushing depictions of sex played in breaking down taboos and creating new possibilities for artistic expression; this talk, however, investigates the reception rather than the production of these comix and how the use of raucous and graphic depictions of sex appealed to their audiences. In particular, it will examine how the comix’ use of explicit sex could have provided readers with resources for imagining alternative gender subjectivities to middle-class, nuclear-family-oriented ones being enforced by the period’s dominant culture. It will also propose additional avenues for investigating how actual readers related to and through comix and how this can contribute to a better understanding of the role of print culture in American countercultural movements.

Tuesday, November 5, 4-5 p.m.

On Main Street/ Outside the Main Stream:  Perspectives on Libraries in the History of Print Culture

Louise Robbins
Professor Emeritus
School of Library and Information Studies

Professor Emerita Louise Robbins, co-editor of Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth Century America, will present an overview of the latest publication of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture. Bracketed by Wayne Wiegand’s take on small town libraries from 1876 to 1956 and Janice Radway’s examination of girl zines and zine librarians, the volume explores the research use of libraries’ own records in innovative ways and delineates “itineraries” of print culture that tend to be bottom up rather than top down.

Spring 2013 Schedule

Tuesday, February 12, 12-1 p.m.

Co-opting Theory: How Feminist Ryan Gosling Saved my Academic Life

Danielle Henderson
Gender and Women's Studies



Danielle Henderson, creator of Feminist Ryan Gosling, speaks about the intersections of feminism, race, and popular culture. She will also discuss her non-traditional path to academia (a twelve-year absence, traveling, working various jobs), and how digital media helped her to combine her non-traditional interests with traditional academic projects.


Tuesday, March 19, 12-1 p.m.

Beyond Ephemerality: Kids, Comics, and History

Carol L. Tilley
Assistant Professor
The Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Once, reading comics was as ubiquitous a pastime for young people as playing video games is today. In the 1940s and 50s in the United States, young people read, collected, and traded comics. They integrated comics into their play, used comics to understand the world, and found inspiration in comics that fueled lifelong avocations. More so than video game playing, comics reading crossed gender, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Comics inspired as much adult ire as today's video games.  Adults feared that by engaging with this medium, young people would grow up degraded, illiterate, and violent.
Although comics were never intended only for child audiences, this medium is often stereotyped in this way. Comics have also attracted other negative stereotypes as being cheap, commercial, and inconsequential. Certainly the economic success of comics-based superhero films and television shows during the past three decades help improve this negative image. A steadily burgeoning scholarship on comics is moving this medium from the periphery toward the center. Still, negative stereotypes, together with the lingering effects of the historical disapprobation, encourage some people to dismiss comics and their readership as ephemeral at best, and harmful at worst.

This presentation will provide an overview of young people’s historical engagement with comics, focusing on the decades of the 1940s and 50s. It will provide specific examples of how these young readers integrated comics in their lives and responded to the mediums’ critics. By giving a voice to these impassioned readers, this research extends the current debates in unexpected and fascinating ways.

2013 Annual Lecture

Tuesday, April 9, 4-5 p.m.

Amateurs and Their Discontents, 1870-2000

Lisa Gitelman
English and Media, Culture and Communication
New York University

Lisa Gitelman (English, NYU) is a media historian whose research concerns American print culture, techniques of inscription, and the new media of yesterday and today. She is particularly concerned with tracing the patterns according to which new media become meaningful within and against the contexts of older media. Her most recent book is entitled Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture and was published by the MIT Press in 2006. Current projects include a monograph, "Making Knowledge with Paper," and an edited collection, "'Raw Data' Is an Oxymoron." She holds a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University and is a former editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University. She has taught at the Catholic University of American and at Harvard University.

Monday, April 22, Noon-1 p.m.

Microphotography: A Pre-Digital History of Digitization

Mary Murrell

A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Anthropology

This talk will explore the thoughts and activities of a few notable librarians, scientists, bureaucrats, and utopians who, from the turn of the twentieth century through World War II, viewed the book and its institutions as inadequate, and even detrimental, to the intellectual needs of modernity. I specifically attend to how these men sought resolution, through microphotographic means, to four specific problems: library growth; the inadequacy of the book and the library for twentieth-century science; the limits that print publication exercised on circulation and thus accessibility; and the perishability of modern paper. By focusing on the period before the digital computer, and by pursuing this “analog” history of mass book digitization, I seek in this talk to establish a broader historical terrain for understanding mass book digitization not just as a newer practice of photographic reproduction but also as a ongoing critique of the book.

Mary Murrell is an A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-14) at the UWM's Center for the Humanities and a lecturer in UWM's Department of Anthropology. She is currently turning her 2012 dissertation from the University of California, Berkeley, entitled "The Open Book: Digital Form in the Making," into a book.