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DepositCenturies of Black Artists’ Books

Black artists have created, modified, or otherwise treated the book as an object of aesthetic expression since at least the nineteenth century. African American artists’ production and circulation of friendship albums and scrapbooks, democratic multiples and artist publishing, accordion folds, enclosures, and fine printing editions, all work to bend and stretch the form of the codex-based book in multiple ways. However, black artists’ books are under-examined, if not wholly untreated, across several scholarly domains. Johanna Drucker’s genre-defining claim that “It would be hard to find an art movement in the 20th century which does not have some component of the artist’s book attached to it” rests on a body of critical literature that ignores the legacy of structural racism in artistic, literary and museum cultures, and in turn forecloses how black artists’ books simultaneously align to and disrupt conceptual and practical definitions of the form. Yet Drucker’s understanding of artists’ books as a “zone of activity” where artists and audiences explore questions about the nature of what constitutes the book-as-form in concert with artists’ creative and intellectual visions, the political economy of independent production and circulation of books, and activist work on the part of artists, exhibition spaces, and audiences continues to have intellectual purchase. My paper highlights examples of how black artists’ books align with and push against the over-determined modernist definition of the artist’s book which dominates existing scholarship. Black artists’ books serve as sites for what Bertram Ashe describes as post-soul aesthetics, thus contributing to understanding blackness’ complexities and nuances, and also enriches and expands the temporal and conceptual domain of the artist’s book itself. The history and present condition of black artist’s books textuality necessitates the comprehensive recovery, amplification, and criticism of this vital cultural work.

DepositIndividual vs. Collaborative Methods of Crowdsourced Transcription

While online crowdsourced text transcription projects have proliferated in the last decade, there is a need within the broader field to understand differences in project outcomes as they relate to task design, as well as to experiment with different models of online crowdsourced transcription that have not yet been explored. The experiment discussed in this paper involves the evaluation of newly-built tools on the Zooniverse.org crowdsourcing platform, attempting to answer the research question: “Does the current Zooniverse methodology of multiple independent transcribers and aggregation of results render higher-quality outcomes than allowing volunteers to see previous transcriptions and/or markings by other users? How does each methodology impact the quality and depth of analysis and participation?” To answer these questions, the Zooniverse team ran an A/B experiment on the project Anti-Slavery Manuscripts at the Boston Public Library. This paper will share results of this study, and also describe the process of designing the experiment and the metrics used to evaluate each transcription method. These include the comparison of aggregate transcription results with ground truth data; evaluation of annotation methods; the time it took for volunteers to complete transcribing each dataset; and the level of engagement with other project elements such as posting on the message board or reading supporting documentation. Particular focus will be given to the (at times) competing goals of data quality, efficiency, volunteer engagement, and user retention, all of which are of high importance for projects that focus on data from galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Ultimately, this paper aims to provide a model for impactful, intentional design and study of online crowdsourcing transcription methods, as well as shed light on the associations between project design, methodology and outcomes.

DepositLa colección Fernández Rivero de fotografía antigua

The Fernández Rivero Collection of old photography is a collection of original photographic objects of more than 45,000 pieces of different types. The CFRivero has been formed with a historicist approach so that it could cover museum and teaching purposes. About two thirds of his pieces are from the 19th century, of which most could be described as a fundamental part of the Spanish photographic heritage of this period. It is therefore a collection primarily of Spanish historical photography, although it also contains notable representative examples of photography from France, the United Kingdom and other countries, in addition to two special sections: stereoscopic photography and photography related to Malaga and its province. The owners have been developing a wide dissemination and investigation of the photographic phenomenon, especially focused on the 19th century. / La Colección Fernández Rivero de fotografía antigua es una colección de objetos fotográficos originales de más de 45000 piezas de diversa tipología. La CFRivero se ha formado con un criterio historicista de manera que pudiese cubrir fines museísticos y didácticos. Alrededor de dos tercios de sus piezas son del siglo XIX, de las cuales la mayor parte podrían describirse como parte fundamental del patrimonio fotográfico español de este periodo. Es por tanto una colección fundamentalmente de fotografía histórica española, aunque contiene también notables ejemplos representativos de fotografía de Francia, Reino Unido y otros países, además de dos secciones especiales: fotografía estereoscópica y fotografía relacionada con Málaga y su provincia. Los propietarios vienen desarrollando una amplia labor de difusión e investigación del fenómeno fotográfico, centrado especialmente en el siglo XIX.

DepositWorking Group in Digital and New Media Annual Report 2009-2010

The Working Group in Digital and New Media emerged as the result of funding awarded from the President’s call for collaborative and transdisciplinary white papers in his New Initiative funding program. The Working Group is dedicated to the support and development of digital and new media projects across the disciplines on campus. Beginning in the spring of 2009, the Working Group has created a laboratory space uniquely suited to collaborative digital and new projects developed across campus. To date these projects have brought together contributors from the departments of Art and Design, Music, History, English, and Computer Science, as well as the Chester Fritz Library and the ITSS High Performance Computing Cluster. Faculty and students have produced a dynamic and diverse group of projects ranging from video shorts, musical compositions, to online and gallery museum exhibitions and collections, and blogs. Statistically, the Working Group projects accounted for over 2500 person/hours of work, over 15 faculty and student collaborators, and close to 20 major creative and research projects. The Working Group created the intellectual and technological infrastructure necessary for over $35,000 of internal and external grants in its first year alone. In the hyper-competitive realm of non-STEM funding, the collaborative infrastructure Working Group in Digital and New Media gives faculty in the arts and humanities a significant edge. The transdisciplinary research, creative activities, and teaching of the Working Group’s members will continue to leverage the common space of the Working Group Laboratory to expand collaborative research and creative activities on campus.

DepositFaithful Infidelity: Charles Ricketts’s Illustrations for Two of Oscar Wilde’s Poems in Prose

The artist, collector, and critic Charles Ricketts (1866–1931) has often been characterised as a reactionary voice in early-twentieth-century debates about modern art. Although he responded conservatively to modern-art developments such as those embodied by the term ‘Post-Impressionism’, his work in book design and illustration exemplifies progressive strategies of decoration that reconfigure the relationship between author and illustrator as one of collaborative authorship. Ricketts’s illustrations are autonomous narratives that not only reproduce the meanings of the texts they represent, but also parody and elaborate on them. Moreover, Ricketts’ book designs and illustrations represent a complex resistance to and working out of Oscar Wilde’s views on art, language, and orality. Ricketts’ progressive strategies of design are epitomized by his unpublished illustrations for Wilde’s Poems in Prose (1894), a text which dramatises the centrality of voice to Wilde’s poetic endeavour and allows Ricketts directly to challenge Wilde’s denigration of the visual arts. By focusing on two representative examples, Ricketts’ drawings for ‘The Disciple’ and ‘The House of Judgment’, and by providing close readings of both image and text, this piece traces Ricketts’ illustrational methods and reveals their debts to Wilde’s own theories of orality, language, and visual arts, charting Ricketts’ divergences from Wilde’s texts and highlighting the critical dialogue implicit in the illustrations. Ricketts’ drawings for the Poems in Prose, currently held at the Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery in Carlisle, have never been published together as a set, and the juxtaposition of the two drawings here is a preliminary attempt to set these illustrations in conversation with each other.

DepositThrough a Glass, Darkly: Medieval Cultural Studies at the End of History

In a talk he gave in 1995 at a conference at Georgetown University, “Cultural Frictions: Medieval Cultural Studies in Post-Modern Contexts,” Paul Strohm asserted that “postmodernism is preoccupied with history, endlessly obsessed with history, and with the nature of the claims the past exerts upon us; it might almost be called a way of thinking about history and representation, provoked and endlessly refreshed by its refusal to allow final understanding.” Moreover, “Postmodern theory has always needed us—that is, needed the past—in the sense that it has never not had designs upon us.” Strohm further noted the way postmodernism fundamentally restores “the variegation, the fully contradictory variety of the historical surface”—which it does, however, by insisting on a “medieval organicism which secretly nourishes the illicit relation between most postmodern culture analysis and the idea of the social ‘totality or whole.'” Strohm urged medievalists to give back to the postmodernists “their honesty. . .by refusing to allow them to employ the Middle Ages as a kind of Jurassic Park where they stow an ideal of totality which they disavow for their own periods but still need, as an absent guarantor of the homologizing critical procedures they want to employ.” Because they know something about the complexities and messy heterogeneities of the Middle Ages, and because they possess certain anxious concerns about current affairs, the authors of this volume of essays have some hope for the formulation and practice of a medieval cultural studies where the Middle Ages can disturb and disrupt the present’s sense of itself as wholly modern, and where Fukuyama’s age of post-histoire will not become the site of the “perpetual caretaking of the [static] museum of human history,” but instead will be the place of history’s irruption as the still–to–come enclosed in the what–has–not–yet–been–thought about the past and the present.

MemberCatherine Grant

CATHERINE GRANT, Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, UK, has published widely on theories and practices of film authorship, adaptation and intertextuality, and has edited important collections of work on world cinemaLatin American cinemadigital film and media studies, and the audiovisual essay (see here and here). A relatively early and prolific adopter of the online short video form, Grant is internationally known for her pioneering and award-winning work on the audiovisual essay in film and moving image studies, especially in found-footage, first-person and essay-film forms. She has produced well over 100 videos to date, dozens of which have been published in online journals alongside her written reflections on these forms and their emergent role in film and media studies, especially in relation to theories of film spectatorship, material thinking, and psychoanalytic object relations. A leading practitioner as well as theorist in the field, her videos have screened at film festivals and film museums around the world.

MemberAnna Sagal

I have two ongoing research projects. The first, entitled Resisting Gardens: Pedagogy & Natural History in Eighteenth-Century Women’s Literature, examines a selection of works of literature and art by women that engage with scientific subjects; genres include periodicals, textbooks, paper mosaics (collages), paintings, and conduct of life works. Utilizing the framework of critical plant studies, this project makes the argument for a radical tradition of women’s naturalist labor that challenges prevailing models of human-nature dynamics. I have also begun preliminary research on a second project, Flora Abroad: Eighteenth-Century Women and Colonial Botany. While still in its early conceptual stages, this project traces the intellectual and artistic productions of women who studied the natural world in the Caribbean, America, Canada, and other European colonies.