Announcement | Renée Ater Appointed Provost’s Visiting Professor

headshot of Renée Ater
Renée Ater

The Brown University Library, together with the Office of the Provost and the Department of Africana Studies, is delighted to announce the appointment of Renée Ater as a Provost’s Visiting Professor for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Professor Ater, Associate Professor Emerita of American Art at the University of Maryland, is highly regarded for her pathbreaking research on the intersection of race, public art, and national identity. She is currently working on a born-digital scholarly publication, Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past: Race, Memorialization, Public Space, and Civic Engagement, for which she has received fellowship support from the Smithsonian, NEH-Mellon, and the Getty Research Institute. Professor Ater received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Maryland.

A self-described “public art historian,” Professor Ater is curious about the ways in which politics imbue monuments with shifting meaning over time, and she is passionate about sharing her observations and insights with a broad audience. Her innovative scholarship has had an impact on both scholarly dialogues and community conversations. Professor Ater visited Brown last spring and provided a clear demonstration of the kinds of distinctive contributions and cross-disciplinary connection-building that she will bring to the University under the Provost’s Visiting Professor Program. In particular, she will make significant contributions to campus interests in slavery and justice, digital scholarship, and mentorship of students and younger faculty from Historically Underrepresented Groups in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. 

MASS Design Group, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, dedicated April 2018, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, Alabama  (Photograph: Renée Ater)

Professor Ater’s work, located at the intersection of politics, biography, and critical art theory, aligns closely with that of scholars in Brown’s Africana Studies Department, with their established interdisciplinary interests in critical Africana theory, black feminism, cultural studies, and performance, through the Department’s Rites and Reason Theatre. She will also provide significant support and mentorship for graduate students working on varied themes in contemporary popular culture, the civil rights movement, and the resistance to racism, particularly in the contemporary period. Her academic constituency on campus will also extend to the History of Art and Archaeology, History, and American Studies departments, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. The University Library will support Professor Ater’s current research focus on developing a digital publication. The Library is home to a pioneering Digital Publications Initiative supported by the Mellon Foundation and the Center for Digital Scholarship, which provides essential staff expertise and technology infrastructure for faculty digital projects.  

Additional Information:

Website:  https://www.reneeater.com/

Current Project Description:  https://www.reneeater.com/slavery-monuments

Presentation at Brown:  https://blogs.brown.edu/libnews/renee-ater/

Announcement | Brown Library’s Digital Publications Initiative’s First Born-Digital Scholarly Monograph Published by University of Virginia Press

The pathbreaking multimodal digital book — Furnace and Fugue — was developed with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Brown University’s Center for Digital Scholarship, based at the University Library, announces the publication of the first born-digital scholarly monograph under the Digital Publications Initiative, a collaboration between the Library and the Dean of the Faculty. Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, edited by Professor of History Tara Nummedal and Independent Scholar Donna Bilak, brings to life in digital form an enigmatic seventeenth-century text, Michael Maier’s alchemical emblem book Atalanta fugiens. This intriguing and complex text reinterprets Ovid’s legend of Atalanta as an alchemical allegory in a series of fifty emblems, each of which contains text, image, and a musical score for three voices. 

Published by University of Virginia Press as part of the distinguished academic series Studies in Early Modern German History, Furnace and Fugue re-renders Maier’s multimedia masterpiece as an enhanced and interactive digital scholarly work that allows contemporary readers to hear, see, manipulate, and investigate Atalanta fugiens in ways that were perhaps imagined when it was composed but were simply impossible to realize in full before now. “We saw an opportunity to bring Maier’s 1618 vision to life in a completely novel way,” said Tara Nummedal. ”The interactive digital format allows us to reach multiple audiences at once: not only fellow scholars and students, but also singers, practicing alchemists, and visual artists.” The Press will publish Furnace and Fugue on an open access basis, making it available immediately, for free, to anyone. “UVA Press is delighted to collaborate with Brown University in bringing out this cutting-edge digital publication. Furnace and Fugue presents the best in innovative and creative publishing, combining rigorously reviewed and edited scholarship with a multi-sensory presentation of Maier’s seventeenth-century music and text,” explained Nadine Zimmerli, Editor of History and Social Sciences at University of Virginia Press. “We hope that this digital monograph will inspire and enrich all readers and listeners.” The development of Furnace and Fugue through the Digital Publications Initiative was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Social Science Research Institute at Brown University.

screenshot from Furnace and Fugue featuring an emblem of a lion, sheet music, and option to play musical recording
Screenshot from Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary

Brown is at the vanguard of digital monograph publishing, facilitating the creation and validation of new scholarly forms that demonstrate a range of ways in which the digital environment is necessary for articulating and advancing scholarly argument beyond the capabilities of print. “Furnace and Fugue is a wonderful example of Brown’s Mellon-supported Digital Publications Initiative, which attempts to develop technically diverse and innovative digital publications demonstrating the unique opportunities of digital platforms,” said Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin, co-principal investigator for the Initiative. “We are delighted to be able to support the outstanding scholarship of Brown faculty by leveraging this opportunity.” With oversight from Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy and drawing upon the expertise of the Center for Digital Scholarship, faculty selected for this opportunity are enabled to develop their scholarship in ways that take advantage of emerging digital methods and formats. These pathbreaking scholarly works are then submitted to leading university presses that have corresponding academic interests and the infrastructure for peer review and digital publication. 

“Brown University, and the University Library in particular, has a long history of pioneering work in digital scholarship,” said Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel, co-principal investigator for the Initiative. “Leading the way in models and practices for first-rate digital scholarly monographs is making a significant and much-needed contribution.” Five additional born-digital publications covering a range of humanistic fields are currently in various stages of development under the Digital Publications Initiative. One is forthcoming with Stanford University Press in 2021. Over the next six years, thanks to renewed support from the Mellon Foundation, the Initiative plans to add four to five new projects to its portfolio. 

The University of Virginia Press will host a virtual book launch for Furnace and Fugue on August 25 at 1:00 pm EST. 

Media inquiries: Jennifer Braga at (401) 863-6913 or Jennifer_Braga@brown.edu.

Events | Love Data Week 2020

What is Love Data Week?

Love Data Week is an international celebration of data, aiming to raise awareness and build a community to engage on topics related to research data management, sharing, preservation, reuse, and library-based research data services.

#LoveData20

Join us and register for Brown’s Inaugural Love Data Week February 10 – 14, 2020!

Brown’s Love Data Week is sponsored by the Office of Vice President for Research (OVPR) and the University Library. 

What is the theme for 2020?

The theme of Love Data Week 2020 is get to know the data specialists at your institution, the kinds of work they do, and the data and associated issues with which these data specialists engage.

Who should I contact to learn more?

To participate or get more information, email data_management@brown.edu.

Announcement | Digitization of Historic Campus Speeches with CLIR Grant

Speeches by Civil Rights leaders and other renowned public intellectuals will be preserved and made available for scholarship.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded the Brown University Library $23,215 from its Recordings at Risk program. One of 13 projects selected out of 34 to receive grants from the program, the Library’s proposal, “Brown University Archives Audio-Visual Collection: Global Perspectives from Campus Speeches,” will allow us to digitize and make available to the public a large selection of audio and video recordings of speeches by leading public figures invited to Brown between 1950 and 1995. 

Brown University students on the College Green, 1969

103 cassette tapes, 198 film reels, and 44 VHS tapes–345 items total–will be digitized through use of the funding. This substantial set of materials document changing intellectual and social currents across the United States and the world on topics including social justice, politics, education, and the media–all of which still resonate today. There is a particularly fascinating set of recordings from Civil Rights leaders, notably Ralph Abernathy, Shirley Chisholm, Martin Luther King, Jr., and A. Philip Randolph. 

Over the next nine months, outside vendor George Blood LP will convert the media into digital files. A team of Special Collections staff and students will review the digitized files and create accurate and complete descriptive information. The final content will be uploaded into the Brown Digital Repository, where it will be available for research in October 2020.

Event | Scott Rettberg on Electronic Literature: Threads of Practice and Literary Genre in Digital Writing

On Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 3:30 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Scott Rettburg, Professor of Digital Culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, will give a talk entitled, “Electronic Literature: Threads of Practice and Literary Genre in Digital Writing.” The talk is free and open to the public.

Electronic Literature

In the talk, Professor Rettberg will discuss his new book, Electronic Literature, in which he places the most significant genres of electronic literature in historical, technological, and cultural contexts. These include combinatory poetics, hypertext fiction, interactive fiction (and other game-based digital literary work), kinetic and interactive poetry, and networked writing based on our collective experience of the Internet. He argues that electronic literature demands to be read both through the lens of experimental literary practices dating back to the early twentieth century and through the specificities of the technology and software used to produce the work.

Rettberg will give a brief presentation of the methods and themes of the book, which will be followed by a discussion between Rettberg and Cayley.

Scott Rettberg

Scott Rettberg is Professor of Digital Culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Rettberg is the author or coauthor of novel-length works of electronic literature, combinatory poetry, and films including The Unknown, Kind of Blue, Implementation, Frequency, The Catastrophe Trilogy, Three Rails Live, Toxi•City, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project and others. His creative work has been exhibited both online and at art venues including the Venice Biennale, Inova Gallery, Rom 8, the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum, Palazzo dell Arti Napoli and elsewhere.  Rettberg is the author of Electronic Literature (Polity, 2019), the first comprehensive study of the histories and genres of electronic literature and winner of the 2019 N. Katherine Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature.

Date: Thursday, December 5, 2019
Time: 3:30 p.m.
LocationPatrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Constructing the Sacred: Visibility and Ritual Landscape at the Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara

On Friday, November 8, 2019 at 3 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Elaine Sullivan, Associate Professor of History at UC Santa Cruz, will give a talk entitled, “Constructing the Sacred: Visibility and Ritual Landscape at the Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara.”

This event is free and open to the public.

Constructing the sacred: Visibility and ritual landscape at the Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara

This talk will discuss Sullivan’s forthcoming born digital publication which utilizes a 3D reconstruction model to examine the importance of visibility and landscape change at the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara. The project will be published as an online only monograph by Stanford University Press in winter 2020 and includes a dynamic 3D GIS model as part of the publication.  

Elaine Sullivan

Dr. Sullivan is an Egyptologist and a Digital Humanist. Her work focuses on applying new technologies to ancient cultural materials. She acts as the project coordinator of the Digital Karnak Project, a multi-phased 3D virtual reality model of the famous ancient Egyptian temple complex of Karnak.  She is project director of 3D Saqqara, which harnesses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies and 3D modeling to explore the ritual and natural landscape of the famous cemetery of Saqqara through both space and time. 

Her field experience in Egypt includes five seasons of excavation with Johns Hopkins University at the temple of the goddess Mut (Luxor), as well as four seasons in the field with a UCLA project in the Egyptian Fayum, at the Greco-Roman town of Karanis.

Because of a broad interest in the history and material culture of the larger ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds, she has also excavated at sites in Syria, Italy and Israel. Dr. Sullivan received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Egyptian Art and Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University. Her B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in History is from Duke University.

Date: Friday, November 8, 2019
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Two New Projects Selected for Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative

The University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, together with the Digital Publications Advisory Board, are pleased to announce the selection of the next two long-form scholarly works to be developed as part of Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative.

At a Standstill, Moving: Gesture, Temporality and the Interval in Performance

Rebecca Schneider

At a Standstill, Moving: Gesture, Temporality and the Interval in Performance by Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, situates the importance of gesture within a wide range of performances. From the vibrancy of opera to the seeming standstill of stone, Schneider’s project offers a non-linear reading experience while focusing on the significance of the interval in order to explore multiple and intersecting temporalities.

The Past and Future of Chika Sagawa, Japanese Modernist Poet

Sawako Nakayasu. Photo by Mitsuo Okamoto

The Past and Future of Chika Sagawa, Japanese Modernist Poet by Sawako Nakayasu, Assistant Professor of Literary Arts, draws attention to an influential but largely overlooked female poet from early-twentieth-century Japan. Nakayasu’s project proposes an innovative use of interwoven media to illuminate the complex poetry of Chika Sagawa as well as to broaden the scope of literary translation.

With continued support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative seeks to advance humanities scholarship by providing a university-based approach to the development, evaluation, and publication of born-digital scholarly monographs. With oversight from Brown’s Digital Scholarship Editor, projects that are selected by the Initiative’s Digital Publications Advisory Board are developed as digital works that draw upon the capabilities of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship. These scholarly works are then submitted to leading university presses that have corresponding academic interests and the infrastructure for peer review and digital publication.

In addition to Nakayasu and Schneider’s projects, digital works currently under development include: Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, co-edited by Tara Nummedal, Professor of History, and Independent Scholar Donna Bilak (forthcoming with University of Virginia Press); Italian Shadows: A Curious History of Virtual Reality by Massimo Riva, Professor and Chair of Italian Studies; The Sensory Monastery: Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, co-authored by Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Professor of Archaeology, and Clark Maines, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Wesleyan University; Islamic Pasts and Futures: Gazing at Horizons of Time by Shahzad Bashir, Director of Middle East Studies, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities, and Professor of Religious Studies; and Nicholas Brown and The Roman Revolution of 1848–1849 by David Kertzer, Paul R. Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Professor of Italian Studies.

To learn more about Brown’s digital scholarly publication program, contact Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy (allison_levy@brown.edu).

Announcement | Mellon Grant Continues Support of Digital Publications Initiative at Brown

With $775,000 from The Mellon Foundation, the Brown University Library, together with the Dean of the Faculty, extends its work with born-digital scholarly monographs.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Brown University has received a $775,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a second phase of its Digital Publications Initiative, launched in 2015 with an initial grant of $1.3 million. The Initiative, a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, has established a novel, university-based approach to the development, evaluation, and publication of born-digital scholarly monographs.   

Following a successful initial phase, a second grant allows the University to consolidate its Initiative while continuing to advance the role of digital scholarship in the academy. From employing interactive simulations to nonlinear reading opportunities, these publications demonstrate how the digital environment is necessary for articulating and advancing scholarly argument beyond the capabilities of print. With oversight from Allison Levy, Brown’s Digital Scholarship Editor, projects that are selected by the Initiative’s faculty advisory board are developed as digital works that draw upon the capabilities of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship. These digital scholarly works are then submitted to leading university presses that have corresponding academic interests and the infrastructure for peer review and digital publication.

“When Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin, former University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi, and I were developing the initial proposal for Mellon, we were sailing into uncharted waters,” said Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel, co-principal investigator for the Initiative. “But the Initiative has succeeded even beyond what we hoped for at the time. Mellon’s commitment to continued funding to help us consolidate these early successes and make the Initiative sustainable is a significant recognition of what we have managed to achieve. Our guiding principles have been to focus on scholarly excellence and to put the faculty’s vision for their work first.”

To date, five faculty publication projects in a range of humanities fields have been selected and are under development for the Initiative’s first phase, with a sixth project yet to be chosen from the most recent round of proposals. The first two projects are nearing publication. Over the next six years, with support from the new Mellon grant, the Initiative plans to add 4-5 new projects.

Furnace and Fugue screenshot

The first of the Initiative’s two pilot projects, Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, will be published by the University of Virginia Press. Co-authored by Tara Nummedal, Professor of History, and independent scholar Donna Bilak, Furnace and Fugue revolves around a seventeenth-century German alchemical book. The second pilot project, Italian Shadows: A Journey into the New World and Other Tales of Imaginary and Forgotten Media by Massimo Riva, Professor and Chair of Italian Studies, takes as its focus the genealogy of virtual reality in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italy.

A part of the Initiative from the earliest stages, Riva expresses the significance of working on Italian Shadows in the digital realm: “My project involves a rich and diverse set of visual and multimedia sources, as well as interactive models and simulations of historical artifacts, and could only have been conceived and implemented in a digital environment. Working with this exceptionally talented team of designers, editors, and librarians has opened new horizons to my scholarship and inspired me to explore new ways to share it with my peers, my students, and the public at large.”

The third project, The Sensory Monastery: Saint-Jean-des-Vignes by Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, and Clark Maines, Professor of Art History Emeritus at Wesleyan, explores the sensory experience of monasticism in medieval and early modern France. The fourth, Islamic Pasts and Futures: Gazing at Horizons of Time by Shahzad Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Director of Brown’s Middle East Studies program, rethinks the conjunction between Islam and temporality, spanning the centuries and regions where Islam has been a significant presence. The fifth, Nicholas Brown and the Roman Revolution of 1848–1849, by David Kertzer, Paul R. Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Professor of Italian Studies, re-examines the politics of nineteenth-century Italy via a trove of recently rediscovered correspondence.

Having arrived at a model of developing long-form digital scholarship, seeing growing interest in this effort on campus, and finding that leading academic publishers are receptive to the Initiative’s projects and approach, Brown is on a path to facilitating the creation and validation of new scholarly forms and helping to broker their dissemination through the most suitable venues for digital publication.

“With this renewed support from The Mellon Foundation, Brown will be able to continue to produce innovative digital publications that open new possibilities for the presentation and dissemination of scholarship by our faculty that is of the highest quality,” said Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin, co-principal investigator for the Initiative. “Each one of these digital publications creates new conditions for the production and circulation of humanist scholarship.”

Family Weekend Forum | Furnace & Fugue

Allison Levy headshot
Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor

On Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 11 a.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, join Allison Levy of the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative for an engaging look at the changing face of 21st-century scholarship.

Free and open to the public.

A Q&A period will conclude the program.

Furnace & Fugue

Demoing the Initiative’s pilot project, Furnace and Fugue, alongside Atalanta fugiens, the rare and elegantly illustrated alchemical book that inspired it, Levy will show how Brown Professor of History Tara Nummedal has turned to innovative digital tools to create new and more dynamic scholarly experiences.

Screen capture of an interactive page from Furnace & Fugue

Re-rendering a multimedia 17th-century text as an online publication, Furnace and Fugue allows readers to hear, see, manipulate, and investigate a work in ways that were perhaps imagined when it was composed but were simply impossible to realize in full before now. Whether through interactive visualizations of modern notation or a multifunctional space that allows users to curate, save, and share their own selection and arrangement of alchemical emblems, Furnace and Fugue makes possible the capabilities implied by this early modern book with digital tools and features that also clarify and/or advance the arguments of the eight scholarly essays included in the work.

Allison Levy

Allison Levy is Digital Scholarship Editor at Brown University Library. An art historian educated at Bryn Mawr College, she has taught in the US, Italy, and the UK. Allison has published widely on the visual culture of early modern Italy and serves as General Editor of the book series Visual and Material Culture, 1300–1700, published by Amsterdam University Press.

Date: Saturday, October 19, 2019
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, Providence, RI

Event | Dr. Lindsey Jones: A database project on the education and incarceration of black girls in Jim Crow Virginia

On Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Lindsey Jones will give a talk about the database she is creating about the education and incarceration of black girls in Virginia during Jim Crow.

This event is free and open to the public. A Q&A and reception will follow the talk.

Dr. Jones is collecting information about the girls who were committed to the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls, the state of Virginia’s reformatory for black girls, operational between 1915 and the 1950s, after the courts across the state labeled them “delinquent.” The reformatory was designed by a statewide network of black women activists to protect and educate troubled black girls rather than punishing them for adolescent misbehaviors.

Lindsey Jones

Dr. Lindsey Jones, Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Education at Brown, is working on a book project that explores the education and incarceration of black girls in Jim Crow Virginia, focusing specifically upon the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls. As part of this project, Dr. Jones is designing a relational database to collect information about the individual girls who were committed to this reformatory.

This event is part of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship dSalon series.

Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St, Providence