DepositThe Problem with the Peace Cross

In June 2019, in the case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that a World War I memorial cross could remain on public land without violating the Establishment Clause. This brief essay reflects on the implications of the Court’s decision, which was rooted in a history of the cross as a generalized symbol of the war, emptied of particular religious significance. This decision reveals ignorance of the pervasiveness of religious nationalism throughout World War I, and furthermore provides an example of the Supreme Court’s underexplored role as an arbiter of societal memory. Through examination of the role of religion in World War I, this paper argues that the Court has drastically misrepresented the impetus for construction of the Peace Cross in a manner which constitutes a harmful cheapening of the cross as a symbol of great significance to many Christians. The American Legion decision also signals cause for concern over the Court’s role as an authoritative source of American social memory. The Court interprets law through history, and the precedent the Court establishes has the capacity to shape the record of American history, and thus American memory. The Court’s recasting of the war memorial cross as a secular symbol threatens to alter the nation’s memory of this particular symbol with very real consequences for the application of the Establishment Clause.

DepositContent and Correlational Analysis of a Corpus of MTV-Promoted Music Videos Aired Between 1990 and 1999

From 1990 to 1999 MTV promoted a series of 288 music videos called “Buzz Clips”, designed to highlight emerging artists and genres. Such promotion had a measurable impact on an artists’ earnings and record sales. To date, the kinds of musical and visual practices MTV promoted have not been quantitatively analyzed. Just what made some videos Buzzworthy, and others not? We applied two phases of content analysis to this corpus to determine the most common sonic and visual signifiers in Buzz Clips, then processed the results of that content analysis using polychoric correlations. Our findings show high degrees of shared variance between certain pairs of musical and visual elements observed in the sample music videos. We interpret a number of these relationships in terms of their relevance to a performer’s perceived ethnicity and gender, showing how certain audiovisual features regularly accompany white men (e.g., electric guitar) while others regularly accompany women and performers of color (e.g. drum machines).

DepositRe-collecting Jim. Discovering a name and a slave narrative’s continuing truth

In a follow-up installment in 1839 to the anonymously authored Recollections of Slavery by a Runaway Slave, the narrator testifies that a Charleston slave speculator known as “Major Ross” had sold his brother. The narrator notes that Ross lives in “a nice little white house, on the right hand side of King street as you go in from the country towards the market.” The right-hand side? Was that level of precision necessary? Because people challenged the veracity of slave narratives at the time they were published, details mattered very much. But the level of specificity in this instance caught my eye. The facts were borne out: property records in the Charleston County Register Mesne Conveyance Deeds office show that in 1831, a James L. Ross, known also as “Major Ross,” purchased a house situated on the west side of King Street, just a few blocks north of the market. If you were entering the city of Charleston from the country, Ross’ house would indeed have been on the right-hand side (fig 1). And so it comes down to that. In order to prove his own humanity, the truth about the human capacity for cruelty, and the very reputation of abolitionist crusaders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, this survivor made his story unassailable by giving the correct location for the speculator’s house on King Street in Charleston.

Deposit“Strange beasts of the sea”: Captain Cook, the sea otter and the creation of a transoceanic American empire

On 12 July 1776, Captain James Cook and his crew left England in search of the famed Northwest Passage. Spanish, French, and Russian explorers before him had set out to find this Arctic waterway, which was thought to link the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and promised to open up a new, more direct trading route with Asia. After seven months of sailing up and down the North American Pacific Coast, however, Cook was forced to conclude that such a passage did not exist. His voyage nonetheless transformed the trade relations between Europe, the USA and Asia. By detailing the rich natural resources the crew encountered in the North Pacific, the published records of Cook’s last voyage alerted a vast reading public, both in Europe and the young USA, to the commercial opportunities emerging from the exploitation of these resources. Using the example of the sea otter, this article explores how new knowledge about the natural world in the Pacific and its dissemination through print culture not only sparked intense rivalries between European colonial powers, but also helped the newly independent USA establish itself as a transoceanic empire.

DepositThe Human Trace in Google Books

The controversial decision by Google to digitise every book ever published has been applauded in some quarters but has also resulted in numerous lawsuits from publishers and authors’ guilds. Google has agreed to pay enormous settlements while still proceeding with its digitization project. The discourse around the legal debate is illuminating. Additionally, human traces are observable in the digital archive. Marginalia that records a single reader’s or multiple readers’ responses to the text and in some ways opens a dialogue with the book, or accounts for the ownership of the book or constitutes a gift note, marks the transition from material to immaterial form, punctuated with traces of the text’s prior physical and communal life. Numerous scanning errors have been uncovered in the database, including the visible trace of human fingers upon the pages of the scanned editions. These ghostly remains, too, impact on the way we consider the digital copy of a material book. These human traces affect how we read and relate to the texts contained in the digital database, and cast the shadow of the books’ material forms over the digital reading experience

DepositSinging in silence

Singing had a crucial role in workers daily life until recent times. Most people who worked in factories, textile mills, etc., were used to sing. It was a general form to communicate news, tell stories or expressing identity or feelings over a circumstance or event: in short, it was a way to create spaces of sociability and to draw the limits of the community’s reality; and all of that has to be seen as a remain of the rural society, and which clashed against the new ruling capitalism and working time and socialization that factories did represent. Despite of this fact, however, there was an intense singing activity into the factories and workshops, activity that was even increased with the popularization of recorded music systems like radio or discs, which provided new musical matter through which new songs could be created. In this paper, we explore the conflict between worker’s necessity to sing within the industrial environment despite the prohibitions, and the diverse ways to do it, sometimes just singing laugher and others, singing in silence; and also the estrategies developed by owners and bosses to try to avoid all this musical activity in order to assure the new productivity concept that the factory and the economic capitalist system required.

DepositDigitally reconstructing the Great Parchment Book: 3D recovery of fire-damaged historical documents

The Great Parchment Book of the Honourable the Irish Society is a major surviving historical record of the estates of the county of Londonderry (in modern day Northern Ireland). It contains key data about landholding and population in the Irish province of Ulster and the city of Londonderry and its environs in the mid-17th century, at a time of social, religious, and political upheaval. Compiled in 1639, it was severely damaged in a fire in 1786, and due to the fragile state of the parchment, its contents have been mostly inaccessible since. We describe here a long-term, interdisciplinary, international partnership involving conservators, archivists, computer scientists, and digital humanists that developed a low-cost pipeline for conserving, digitizing, 3D-reconstructing, and virtually flattening the fire-damaged, buckled parchment, enabling new readings and understanding of the text to be created. For the first time, this article presents a complete overview of the project, detailing the conservation, digital acquisition, and digital reconstruction methods used, resulting in a new transcription and digital edition of the text in time for the 400th anniversary celebrations of the building of Londonderry’s city walls in 2013. We concentrate on the digital reconstruction pipeline that will be of interest to custodians of similarly fire-damaged historical parchment, whilst highlighting how working together on this project has produced an online resource that has focussed community reflection upon an important, but previously inaccessible, historical text.

DepositA Case Study of a Digital Image Collection Belonging to a Charity

This case study aims to increase knowledge of working with digital image collections, including issues related to information organisation, information behaviour, digital asset management and user experience. The research begins by reviewing the academic and professional literature, which in turn informs the way in which particular issues are explored. In the initial exploratory phase, the researcher carries out interviews with some of the main users of the collection and analyses logs generated by the Digital Asset Management System (DAM). And in the second phase, the researcher investigates indexing policy and management of the collection through analysis of metadata, interviews and an indexing task completed by participants. A few key findings are made. Firstly, the collection is important for promoting and keeping a record of the charity’s work. Secondly, the rapid growth of the collection makes metadata increasingly important for the discoverability of files. Thirdly, DAM software can support information organisation, information retrieval, information seeking and digital asset management in many ways. Fourthly, the case shows the importance of training for helping staff to use the system and manage the metadata schema and folders. Finally, although time and staffing for organising and managing the collection are limited, the help that good quality metadata and well-organised folders can bring are worth it in the opinion of the researcher. The research results also include specific recommendations for managing the collection and indexing it. It is hoped that these findings will be applicable to other, similar cases.

DepositThree views of the ‘musical work’. A study of conceptualisations in philosophical, bibliographical and editorial contexts within the Domain of Music.

The author examines a choice of the conceptualisations of the ‘musical work’ within the domain of music in the context of bibliographical control and information retrieval. The study uses the principles of domain analysis proposed by Hjorland (Hjorland 2002) as a framework. The scope is wide and does not claim to be comprehensive. The philosophical and performance related conceptualisations of the musical work are examined with the method of discourse analysis of major writings on the topic. Each analysis is followed by an assessment of its relevance in the context of information organisation and user’s tasks. The phenomenological approach to the mode of being of musical work is examined with its particular applicability to modelling of the bibliographical entities in the domain of music. This is followed by further exploration of the bibliographical control of music and recent developments in FRBR/FRAD framework. The activity of editing music is presented in the context of its relevance to the practice of cataloguing music resources. In the conclusion the author points to the similarities of the activities of editors and information professionals in the context of critically informed choices they need to make when preparing either the text for the purpose of study or performance, or the catalogue record for the purpose of information retrieval. The shift in information organisation towards linked resources and the entities formulated as points of reference (including the main subject of this study – the ‘work’) beyond the library systems into the related resources on the world wide web is highlighted and the possibilities for further research in the context of the ‘work’ are suggested.

DepositPoetry Audio/Video Library Phase 2

The University of Arizona Poetry Center currently provides patrons access to its unparalleled collection of poetry recordings-thousands of hours of audio and video material dating from the 1960s forward-using a proprietary database and storage system. When this application-the Audio/Video Library (AVL)-was begun in 2006, its first phase involved basic data entry and a desktop-only interface. Its second phase, beginning in March 2010, will add a Web 2.0 component to make the entire collection available to the general public. This Level II grant would fund this phase, which has three goals: 1)Develop a web-accessible interface, giving scholars, students, and the public direct on-line access to the collection from anywhere in the world; 2)Enhance the application’s search tools so to increase the collections’s value to scholars; 3)Develop a user-comment module to allow poets, scholars Poetry Center staff, and the public to share and store their knowledge about the collection’s contents.