Caution: pot stirring ahead I’m coming up on my first sabbatical. It’s been six years since I first came to Carleton – terrified – to interview for a position in the history department, in this thing, ‘digital humanities’. The previous eight years had been hard, hustling for contracts, short term jobs, precarious jobs, jobs that…

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This article is part one of a four-part series on the future of quantification in history. For the thematic introduction to the series, please click here. At face value, it might appear to the casual reader of Play the Past, that the main focus of this blog is the treatment of historical experience in the…

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This will be an old-fashioned, shamelessly opinionated, 1000-word blog post. Anyone who has tried to write literary history using numbers knows that they are a double-edged sword. On the one hand they make it possible, not only to consider more examples, but often to trace subtler, looser patterns than we could trace by hand. On the…

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THIS WORK IS BASED ON a single historical document: a slideshow made by commercial photographer Henry G. Peabody between 1899-1930 at the Grand Canyon of Arizona. The project reconstructs Peabody’s slideshow in a web-based medium, allowing readers to see beyond the photographer’s presentation of his forty-three individual image-objects. Enchanting the Desert, instead, uses the photographs…

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This new essay published in Post45 is about the relationship between prizewinning novels and their economic counterparts, bestsellers. It is about the ways in which social distinction is symbolically manifested within the contemporary novel and how we read social difference through language. Not only can we observe very strong stylistic differences between bestselling and prizewinning writing,…

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If you claim computational approaches to history (“digital history”) lets historians ask new types of questions, or that they offer new historical approaches to answering or exploring old questions, you are wrong. You’re not actually wrong, but you are institutionally wrong, which is maybe worse. This is a problem, because rhetoric from practitioners (including me) is that we can…

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