Monday, April 9, 2007

Environmental History and the Paucity of Paper

One of the things I admire about environmental history is its emphasis on the embodied elements of culture, experience, and identity. Insisting that history was experienced through the body is, however, difficult to re-present on the page. Of course it can be done, and done very well, but how else might historians re-tell histories of embodiment? The always-interesting Joy Parr provides us with some possibilities right here.

What are the implications of this kind of scholarly work for the relationship between the historian and the subject? The (overly) easy answer is "nothing" but I am not so sure. Historians might be tempted to think about the use of new technologies for broadening our audiences but I hope that we also take this opportunity to cast the gaze a little more reflexively at our own individual and collective selves. Do we run a greater risk of appropriating the experiences, identities, and narratives of others as our own? How visible or audible should the historian be in such forms of representation? Blurring the lines between subject, historian, audience, and archive is an exciting possibility but also one with some daunting responsibility.

The hovering head at the top of this page might still have some useful things to say about all this.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Because the World Needed Another Blog

The title of this blog refers to two things: 1) I am trying to figure out how to "write" in the digital age, and so this blog is going to be, in part, a laboratory for some experiments in scholarly communication. This refers to content (what is "scholarly"?) but especially to form. 2) This is a site being produced by a historian who is fascinated by all things historiographical, and yet my definitions of both these things ("historian" and "historiographical") go decidedly beyond the versions. This means, for example, that I just may go on-and-on about the novels of Michael Chabon, especially since his newest is about to arrive on my doorstep.

And if you are wondering what book I am holding in the image at the top of this page, go here or here to learn a little more.