Information: Keywords

Just out from Columbia University Press Information: Keywords, edited by Michele Kennerly, Samuel Frederick, and Jonathan Abel. With chapters on algorithm, archive, cognition, index, keyword, and more, this volume has some brilliant scholars, including Katherine Hayles, Dan Rosenberg, Bernard Dionysius Geoghagen, Wolf Kittler, and several more. I wrote the chapter on “Knowledge”: In the “Unreasonable […]

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Text, Data, and the Infrastructure of Knowledge

This spring Andrew Piper and I are teaching a graduate seminar titled “Text, Data, and the Infrastructure of knowledge. Here’s the description: In this seminar, we will consider a broad range of questions concerning the preservation, circulation, reproduction, and interpretation of texts in a digital realm from what we call the historical concerns of philology. […]

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The Page Image

I’ve got a new essay out with Andrew Piper and Mohamed Cheriet titled “The Page Image: Towards a Visual History of Digital Documents.” It was published in the most recent volume of Book History. Here’s a paragraph from the introduction about what we’re trying to do: Our more immediate aim in this essay is to […]

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Permanent Crisis Out March 2021

The catalogue copy and landing page for Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age is up with the University of Chicago Press: The humanities, considered by many as irrelevant for modern careers and hopelessly devoid of funding, seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis, at the mercy of modernizing and technological forces […]

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Information Overload & the Invention of the Modern Research University

On Sunday, June 10, 2012, Helen Dragas, rector of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors, announced that President Teresa Sullivan and the board had “mutually agreed” that Sullivan would resign. Citing a “rapidly changing” higher education environment, Dragas insisted that the university had to change, and fast. In the ensuing weeks, Dragas alluded to […]

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The Scholar’s Vocation

In 1908, the first study of Germany’s ‘next generation of academics’ was published, written by the German economist Franz Eulenburg. After 200 pages of line graphs and tables, he concluded that they were neither young nor going anywhere. Although some who taught in Germany’s world-renowned universities enjoyed the freedom presumed to accompany an academic life, […]

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Christian Humanism Is a Wooden Iron

In the brief respite between total wars, most Christian intellectuals in Europe––from Catholics such as Jacques Maritain and Simon Weil to Protestants such as W. H. Auden and C. S. Lewis––professed an allegiance to humanism, as did an array of confessing and non-confessing Communists, Dada-ists, Futurists, liberals, and Marxists. But beyond a general commitment to the human, they tended to agree […]

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Introduction to “Charisma & Disenchantment: The Vocation Lectures”

Paul Reitter and I recently edited a new translation of Max Weber’s two vocation lectures by Damion Searls. NYRB Classics published them this past February. As part of this volume, Paul and I also wrote an introduction: In the summer of 1917, a group of university students in Munich invited Max Weber to launch a […]

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Weber and the Crisis of the Humanities

In the summer of 1917, a group of university students in Munich invited Max Weber to launch a lecture series on “intellectual work as a vocation” with a talk about the scholar’s work. He was, in a way, an odd choice. Fifty-three at the time, Weber hadn’t held an academic job in over a decade. […]

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