2013-2014: Archives


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The theme of the Modernities Working Group in 2013-2014 is Archives. Archives can be contemporary or historical, secret or public, official or insurgent, analog or digital.  What defines an archive?  By what material and conceptual means is an archive bounded, and what is the status of materials that fall beyond those boundaries? What relationships does an archive imply between past and present, social power and its opposite —  and what is our own relationship, as individual critics, scholars, and historians, to the  primary materials with which we engage?

To download a copy of the MWG poster for the fall term, please click here: 357761_poster2.

Please contact Brian Hochman (bh296@georgetown.edu) or Nathan Hensley (nh283@georgetown.edu) to be added to the distribution list.  All are welcome!

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Fall 2013 / Schedule 

Wednesday, September 18

“What is an Archive?” / Reading Group Meeting

12:30 pm / Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice / New North 408

In this first meeting of the term we will introduce ourselves and talk briefly about our own projects in relation to a set of  short readings on “the problem of the archive.” Readings are:

Walter Benjamin, “The Collector [Convolute H],” from The Arcades Project: benjamin_the collector

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”: borges_the library of babel

Thomas Osborne, “The Ordinariness of the Archive”: osborne_ordinariness of the archive

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Wednesday, October 16 //  Guest: Mark Mazzetti, New York Times

“Declassified: On Secrecy and Openness in Reporting”

12:30 pm / Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice / New North 408

Mark Mazzetti is a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times and author of The Way of the Knife: The CIA, A Secret Army, and A War at the Ends of the Earth.  This meeting will take the form of a Q&A and open discussion on the topic of  secret archives, sources, and journalistic transparency.  Short readings will be posted to the blog in advance; for a copy of Mazzetti’s book please email nh283@georgetown.edu.

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Wednesday, November 13 // Guest: Joshua Shannon, U. Maryland, College Park

“Art and Fact, 1968 and After”

  Time to be announced / Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice / New North 408

 Joshua Shannon is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Maryland, College Park and founder and director of the Potomac Center for the Study of Modernity.  This meeting will take the form of a work-in-progress workshop on a chapter of Professor Shannon’s current book manuscript, The Recording Machine: Art and Fact, 1968 (under contract, Yale University Press), which asks “why so many artists in the Cold-War West around 1968 seemed to reject art’s traditional aims of essentialist truth-telling in favor of mere presentation of unsynthesized information.”  Shannon’s first book, The Disappearance of Objects: New York Art and the Rise of the Postmodern City (Yale, 2009), was a finalist for the book prize of the Phillips Collection’s Center for the Study of Modern Art and won a General Research Board Award from the University of Maryland and a Wyeth Foundation Publication Grant from the College Art Association.  The relevant chapter draft from The Recording Machine will be emailed to group members in advance of the meeting.

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About Nathan Hensley

Nathan K. Hensley is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University; he works on nineteenth-century British literature, critical theory, and the novel.
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