Michael  Kramer


SHORT BIO: Michael J. Kramer (Ph.D. University of North Carolina, 2006) is a lecturer in History and American Studies and an Undergraduate Academic Adviser in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He specializes in twentieth-century United States cultural and intellectual history, and has taught at Loyola University, Lake Forest College, and George Mason University, where he was the 2006-2007 J.N.G. Finley Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Art History. His current project, The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture, San Francisco-Vietnam, 1965-1975 (forthcoming, Oxford University Press), examines how rock music generated countercultural engagements with citizenship and public life in two crucial locales, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Vietnam War zone. Future research continues his focus in the intersection of the arts, citizenship, and public life: a biography of the writer and social critic Paul Goodman, a cultural history of the 1976 American bicentennial celebration, and a study of the history of arts criticism in the United States. He is also interested in digital history; as part of a book project about the Berkeley Folk Music Festival, he is working with students, librarians, and technologists to develop an interactive, multi-authored, multimodal platform for the archival study of American vernacular music. He maintains a blog about digital history at www.issuesindigitalhistory.net and a blog of cultural criticism at www.culturerover.com.

And I prefer the sometimes suspicious depths of Zizek to the shallows of Carr.

  • Session Proposal: Activating the Archive


    I would like to propose a session on the question of the digital archive.

    At a panel at HASTAC 2011 (see hastac2011.org/schedule/conference-program/ and scroll down to Sessions D3 (Lightning Talks) – Rackham West Conference Room), I was struck that all of our digital humanities/history projects were driven by questions of how to design, use, and produce new historical knowledge from digital repositories. Intersecting dilemmas, goals, concerns, and ideas kept arising among the presentations. These suggested to me that there is an important discussion to continue to have about how archives might be transformed for the better in the digital age. This discussion might include what past practices should be discarded, what we should (pardon the pun) preserve from analog archival traditions, and most of all how we might reimagine the archive in the digital medium.

    Here are a set of questions that might serve to shape such a session:

    • Does the digital create new possibilities for archival study? There are the obvious possibilities of wider, more democratic access to the archive. There is the opportunity for quantitatively studying “big data” of archival materials. But how else, as historians, might we reimagine the archive—and the power of the archive—for the digital age? What might the archive look like in the digital realm? What might it be able to do (or not do) as compared to the analog archive?
    • What new theoretical questions does the digital archive raise? Do we need to rethink the boundedness or porousness of the archive, the authority of it, the nature of archival materials in the virtual realm?
    • What are the new methodological issues that digital archives present? How might historians contribute to the design, interface, and tools used to arrange, access, and make use of digital repositories (a good recent book on this topic is a collaboration between an archivist and a historian, Francis X. Blouin Jr. and William G. Rosenberg’s Processing the Past: Contesting Authorities in History and the Archives)?
    • Might previously separate parts of the process of “making” history—the archive, the research workshop, the publication, and the scholarly conversation/debate that follows publication—intertwine and interact in new, productive ways?
    • Does the digital archive bring us back to core historical questions about connecting evidence to argument in compelling ways (that’s a leading question, I admit, since I think it does)?
    • In the digital medium, does the archive, typically the precinct of primary sources, provide a starting point, a launching pad, for new modes of historiography to emerge?

    Michael Kramer, ude.n1558603097retse1558603097whtro1558603097n@kjm1558603097

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