“Greenscreeners: Locating the Literary History of Word Processing”
Who: Matt Kirschenbaum
When: Monday, March 20, 4pm
Where: Brooks Hall Commons
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and Associate Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH, an applied thinktank for the digital humanities). He is also an affiliated faculty member with the College of Information Studies at Maryland, and a member of the teaching faculty at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School.
His most recent book, Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing (Harvard UP, 2016), examines how the interests and ideals of creative authorship came to coexist with the computer revolution. It balances the stories of individual writers with a consideration of how the seemingly ineffable act of writing is always grounded in particular instruments and media, from quills to keyboards. Along the way, we discover the candidates for the first novel written on a word processor, explore the surprisingly varied reasons why writers of both popular and serious literature adopted the technology, trace the spread of new metaphors and ideas from word processing in fiction and poetry, and consider the fate of literary scholarship and memory in an era when the final remnants of authorship may consist of folders on a hard drive or documents in the cloud.
With Pat Harrigan, he has also co-edited the Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming for the MIT Press, a volume containing nearly seventy contributions (2016). In 2010 he co-authored (with Richard Ovenden and Gabriela Redwine) Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, a report published by the Council on Library and Information Resources and recognized with a commendation from the Society of American Archivists. His first book, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, was published by the MIT Press in 2008 and won the 2009 Richard J. Finneran Award from the Society for Textual Scholarship (STS), the 2009 George A. and Jean S. DeLong Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP), and the 16th annual Prize for a First Book from the Modern Language Association (MLA). Kirschenbaum speaks and writes often on topics in the digital humanities and new media; his work has received coverage in the Atlantic, Slate, New York Times, The Guardian, National Public Radio, Wired, Boing Boing, Slashdot, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. See http://www.mkirschenbaum.net for more.
And so, I think, we’re gradually moving toward a future where more and more writing is collaborative, where you have a human author but that person’s work is being informed keystroke by keystroke.