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Thursday, May 28 • 3:45pm - 5:15pm
Social Praxis and the Digital Archive

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A combination session fo a panel and a demonstration:

Social Facts and Crime Fiction: Digital Archives and the "Third Space"
Todd Hughes, Federico Pagello, Michael Pierse, Owen Fenton and Megan Myers

One of the inaccuracies of the role of a digital archive is that it serves as a mere catalogue or inventory of data or tangible objects; organized for ease of access by a visitor. This notion is incorrect, as there are mediating factors between the creator and the items in the archive. These mediating factors are multiple. As a result, the digital archive serves as an interesting “third space,” existing between its creator and items in the inventory. 

This panel is the result of collaboration between Vanderbilt University (Nashville) and Queen’s University (Belfast). We will consider a variety of archiving projects and this “third space,” that exists between the creator and the digital inventory. Manifestations of this “third space” can include: identity formation, the creation of new narratives, and issues related to access. 

We will consider digital archives from five different points of view. Todd Hughes (Vanderbilt) will discuss the “Who Speaks for the Negro” archive, which presents materials related to Robert Penn Warren’s book of the same name. He will discuss the background related to the creation of the archive and the specific goals of the project. 

Federico Pagello (Queen’s Belfast) will present the details of an international, collaborative project devoted to archiving a collection crime fiction preserved in the only public library specialised in this genre: the Bibliothèque de Littérature Policières in Paris. Despite its obvious relevance for our understanding of modern popular culture and society, institutions such as libraries and universities have underestimated the task of archiving and making works of crime fiction available to the scholarly community, as well as the general public. 

Michael Pierse (Queen’s Belfast) will discuss two projects. The first is “Working-Class Cultures and Conflict in Northern Ireland Since 1945.” The goal of the former is to construct new narratives of shared histories across sectarian lines, reviewing archives of working-class histories held by a range of individuals and groups, facilitating a community-facing research network that will link academics, local historians and community activists. The second project, “'From Dark Tourism to Phoenix Tourism: The Ethics of Cultural Translation in Urban Festivals,” will archive a number of initiatives around the history of Belfast’s renowned community festival “Féile an Phobail.” 

Owen Fenton (HASTAC Scholar, Queen’s Belfast) will present how a digital archive serves to promote identity formation during the transition of a society in conflict to a post-conflict society, focusing on media representations of identity formation. His consideration of Northern Irish identity takes the form of a longitudinal narrative study, which utilizes determined large-scale content analysis examining traditional media in Northern Ireland. 

Megan Myers (HASTAC Scholar, Vanderbilt/Humanities Tennessee) will discuss her work in creating a digital archive called “Nashville’s New Faces,” which presents sound bytes of interviews conducted with recent immigrants to the Nashville region.

FORTEPAN and FORTEPAN IOWA: Building a movement of democratic digital photo archives
Sergey Golitsynskiy, Bettina Fabos, and Leisl Carr Childers

This project demo features FORTEPAN IOWA - an open source web-based archive of amateur photos of Iowan life, taken over the past century.

FORTEPAN IOWA is the first sister site of FORTEPAN, an online photo archive of amateur photos taken in Hungary, 1900-1990, established by two Hungarians committed to public archiving and the beauty and merit of amateur photos. Launching in 2009, FORTEPAN quickly became an important contribution to Hungary’s cultural heritage, growing from 3000 to 40,000 images in just five years, and boasting 180,000 visitors a day from all over the world. Nothing like FORTEPAN exists outside of Europe, and certainly no photo chronology comes close to it in the United States.

FORTEPAN IOWA is currently undergoing testing, and will be made public in December 2014. The website has at least three significant features for anyone interested in digital media education. First, in addition to being searchable by a variety of meta-data criteria, photos can be browsed through a sliding interactive timeline. Because they are arranged chronologically, the photos are given immediate historical context, and take a visitor, image by image, through Iowa's history. Second, every photo has been taken by amateurs. Thus, the images tell the story of Iowa from the bottom up, revealing an unofficial and diverse representation of our state. Third, every photo has been scanned at the University of Northern Iowa and is available for downloading in very high resolution, licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public license. This means that anyone, including scholars, teachers, and students, can incorporate the archive’s many high resolution photographs into their creative digital projects without fear of copyright violation.

FORTEPAN IOWA was built using the Python programming language and the Django framework. In addition to the features of the original FORTEPAN, we have added a more comprehensive set of searching and browsing tools; we enable users to personalize their experience by tagging photos, organizing them into their own sets and collections, and sharing them through social media. In addition to photos, the content of the archive includes oral history (audio) components.

Beyond building the system, our goal is to use it mindfully in our own academic institutions and throughout Iowa schools, museums, and other institutions while the archive steadily builds in size and reputation. We are working on creating a shareable toolkit documenting not only the system and how to configure a new installation; but also how to identify and work with donors; how to digitize, curate, and tag archival photos; how to train volunteers and students (who help digitize and enter data); and how to incorporate the archive into University and K-12 curricula, museums, and public life. Our main goal will ultimately be to disseminate the FORTEPAN public archive concept across other U.S. states. In making FORTEPAN IOWA as successful as the original Hungarian FORTEPAN, we can easily envision the power of multiple FORTEPAN sites, and the impact of a FORTEPAN movement in preserving valuable public memories and bringing them into our public discourse.

avatar for Brandon Locke

Brandon Locke

Michigan State University

avatar for Bettina Fabos

Bettina Fabos

Professor of Interactive Digital Studies, University of Northern Iowa
Bettina Fabos is a Professor of Interactive Digital Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Both a scholar and producer of digital culture, her written and creative work revolve around digital culture, digital photo archiving, digital visualization, and the Creative Commons. She... Read More →
avatar for Owen Fenton

Owen Fenton

PhD Student, Queen's University Belfast
I am a 2nd year PhD candidate in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast researching how a national identity’s ontological structure operates within the confines of a post-conflict society. My thesis utilises the national identity... Read More →
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Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa

Megan Myers

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That Other Person

Software Engineer, Galaxy Project, Johns Hopkins University

Designated Tweeters
avatar for Caitlin Christian-Lamb

Caitlin Christian-Lamb

Ph.D. Candidate / Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, University of Maryland / Louisiana State University
Caitlin is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Louisiana State University’s School of Library & Information Science, a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland’s iSchool, and a Review Editor for dh+lib. Her dissertation research is on social and reparative justice initiatives in academic archival settings, particularly in terms of gaps between published theory and practice, universities as racialized organizations, and the role of the individual archivist within a larger organization... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Shook

Jennifer Shook

Jen Shook is a University of Iowa PhD candidate in English and Graduate Certificate student in book history and book arts at the Center for the Book, as well as Co-Director of Imagining America’s PAGE (Publicly Active Graduate Engagement) Fellow Program, and social media correspondent... Read More →

Thursday May 28, 2015 3:45pm - 5:15pm EDT
Room 103 Kellogg Center

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