Shakespeare, Remediation and the Digital Archive

‘As an historian I find what you are doing horrifying’. This remark, directed at the paper I just gave at the Sheffield Digital Humanities Congress in 2012, is, on the face of it, not particularly encouraging. My paper, entitled ‘Art to Enchant: The Creation of a Digital Archive’ explored in detail my process and methodology in the creation of the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive (VISA). What particularly angered this member of the audience was my in-depth demonstration of the procedures I use to ‘clean up’ the images that make up the archive   and my subsequent assertion that when we digitise an historical artefact it becomes translated – adapted – into a different medium, thus creating an entirely new and original artefact. The audience member took great exception to this because it called into question his deeply held belief that we can know history as an objective fact; that the books, documents, and images we find in libraries and archives are transparent texts, that they reveal to us truths and give us direct access to their own historical eras.

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The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (2014)

Edited by Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. JHG

It is appropriate to begin our book review section with The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media for a couple of reasons. First, in light of our recent blog post about digital pedagogy, the book provides an excellent starting point for students and teachers wishing to learn more about what is loosely called ‘New Media’. Second, the very form of the book, an encyclopaedic A-Z of key terms from the field (it begins with ‘Algorithm’ and ends with ‘Writing under Constraint’) is analogous to that of the web itself. Written in fragments and concluding with a further reading section, each entry reminds us that such reference guides are hypertextual by their very nature.

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Things We Did in the Summer Part III

Higher Ground: Reflections on the AHRC Common Ground Event 
‘People, keep on learnin’, sang Stevie Wonder on his 1973 single ‘Higher Ground’ – a song that deals with themes of reincarnation and spirituality. As the opening line of the song, the words have a special relevance: they encapsulate the idea that it is through learning that we can reach the ‘higher ground’, the metaphoric space where we can become enlightened individuals, at one with both ourselves and the universe. ‘I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then / Gonna keep on tryin’ / Till I reach my highest ground’, the first chorus concludes before, pertinently enough, going into a verse that begins with the line ‘teachers, keep on teachin’.

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Things We Did in the Summer Part II

Creative Cardiff Pop-Up Hub: Making a Difference

There is a scene early on in the Richard Attenborough-recreates-Alton-Towers-but-with-dinosaurs documentary, Jurassic Park, where, on learning that the eponymous park contains a T-Rex, the palaeontologist Alan Grant collapses to the ground overcome by excitement.  It is a scene re-enacted by myself in the Wales Millennium Centre when I learnt that Rhys Jones, a fellow participant in Creative Cardiff’s Pop-Up Hub had brought into our work environment an Oculus Rift. The Rift (as it is also known – the definitive article implying a kind of break with the past) has, as long-term readers of our Twitter feed, @cardiffdiginet, will be aware, been on our ‘thing’s to have a go on’ list for quite some time now. ‘You’ve got a Rift?’, I spluttered, my mouth full of Rainbow Drops (more of which shortly), ‘Yes’, Rhys said. ‘Come and give it a go’. Oh go on then.

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Things We Did in the Summer Part I

Digital Pedagogies: The Shock of the (K)New

As summer is drawing to a (rainy) end and August is traditionally a quiet month within the University, it is a good moment to use this island of time in the ocean of conferences, meetings, symposiums and events that has characterised the Digital Cultures Network thus far, to update you with our recent activities over the summer. To paraphrase Mungo Jerry’s classic ‘In the Summertime’, have a drink, have a read…

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