Unless otherwise noted, all colloquia are held in:
4207 Helen C. White Hall
600 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
Spring 2014 Schedule
Thursday, April 16, 4-5 p.m.
A Pretty Bold Thing: Collecting Civil Rights Manuscripts during 1960s
The Wisconsin Historical Society possesses one of the nation's largest archives on the civil rights movement -- tens of thousands of letters, diaries, meeting minutes, phone logs, internal memos, photographs, press releases, audio tapes, and other primary sources. Researchers often ask how this national treasure came to Wisconsin. The former WHS staff who criss-crossed the South gathering manuscripts 50 years ago are in Madison this week. At this colloquium they'll discuss how and why they put their lives on the line to save movement records, and reflect on ways that archives, history, and politics overlap.
Fall 2013 Schedule
View a recording of What Became of Borders? here
Thursday, September 26, 4-5 p.m.
What Became of Borders?
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
School of Communication
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
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
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
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
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
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.