Tuesday 4 December 2012 – Jason M. Kelly – An Ecology for Digital Scholarship

Digital History Seminar, Institute for Historical Research

Bedford Room G37, Senate house, South block, Ground floor, 5:15 pm (GMT)

In 1969, Marshall McLuhan wrote that ‘the literati find the new electronic environment far more threatening than do those less committed to literacy as a way of life. When an individual or social group feels that its whole identity is jeopardized by social or psychic change, its natural reaction is to lash out in defensive fury. But for all their lamentations, the revolution has already taken place.’  This talk takes McLuhan’s comments as its starting point to frame a discussion of digital history as both an intellectual discipline and a socially embedded practice. Kelly argues that the ‘digital turn’ demands that historians reconstitute their discipline—not simply because of its methodological challenges, but because digital history exposes fundamental weak points in the academic system. Kelly focuses on the intersection of technology, cultural capital, institutional knowledge, and systems of social power to critique historical scholarship—both in its analogue and digital forms.


Jason M. Kelly is the Director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute (IAHI) and Associate Professor of British History at IUPUI.  He is the author of The Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment (Yale University Press and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2010) and has published articles on the history of eighteenth-century masculinity, art, and the Grand Tour in the Journal of British Studies, the Walpole Society, and the British Art Journal.  He is the webmaster for the North American Conference on British Studies and a co-editor of H-Albion. With Tim Hitchcock, he edits History Working Papers.  He current research includes the Rivers of the Anthropocene project, an comparative environmental study of international rivers systems since 1750, and a study of the early history of civil rights movements in the Transatlantic world.

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