Four New Projects Selected for Brown University Digital Publications 

The University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, together with the Digital Publications Faculty Advisory Committee, are pleased to announce the selection of the next four scholarly works to be developed by Brown University Digital Publications.

Rebecca Louise Carter

Going through the Motions: Animations of Black Being in the Breaks by Rebecca Louise Carter, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies, is a meditation on Black death and its transformation, exploring the shift to Black aliveness in both scholarly work and everyday practice. A project of Black Study inspired by ethnohistoric and ethnographic fieldwork in New Orleans, this short-form digital publication will consist of several connected essays accompanied by a series of visual and moving portraits of Black people who grapple with conditions of precarity and death but also find ways to conceptualize and embody Black aliveness as an aesthetic, orientation, or other mode of being. The animated scenes are crafted from interview recordings, archival materials, photographs, and sound, set in motion through new drawing, painting, collage, and stop motion photography. Together with the essays, the book presents a narrative arc and multimodal experience through which readers/viewers/listeners can witness and follow Black ways of being, knowing, and doing. 

John Cayley

In Networked and Programmable Media: Language Art with Personal Computation by John Cayley, Professor of Literary Arts, will feature over fifty of the pioneering author’s works in “language art with computation,” dating from the late 1970s — when personal computing began to be possible — down to the present time. More than just a digital anthology, the project will be integrated with an original theoretically informed commentary, offering critical, discursive pathways around and about the selections themselves. The constituent works will be published digitally, as far as possible in the manner that they were conceived to be read. Saying as much will further establish this publication as another first because Cayley’s writing, his language art work, was composed to be dynamic and time-based, sometimes generative and self-modifying, not necessarily the same “text” each time the work is encountered. In Networked and Programmable Media will bring early and recent programmed language art to what are now both crucial and everyday real-world networks for both readers and scholars.

Christopher Grasso

The Chisolm Massacre: Reconstruction and the Politics of Violence by Christopher Grasso, Professor of History, is a case study at a hinge moment in American history: 1877, when the nation backed away from its first great experiment in racial justice. In a small town in Kemper County, Mississippi in the spring of that year, a political mob murdered five people, including Republican Judge William Wallace Chisolm, former state senator J. P. Gilmer, and two of Chisolm’s children. To ask why the “Chisolm Massacre” occurred is to plunge into a complex web of local, regional, and national causes and effects, motives, and consequences. National press coverage and two quickly produced books demonstrated that the meaning of the event was and is embedded in the larger moral history of Reconstruction. Politics was violent and violence was political in ways that linked this small place to the nation. Grasso’s historical narrative is based in part on an extensive private archive of Chisolm family papers. The digital publication will feature thematic document clusters, enabling readers to explore a variety of primary sources, surfacing epistemological issues and the practice of historical interpretation.

Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg

Grounds for Reclamation: Fascism and Postfascism in the Marshes by Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian Studies, focuses on the reclamation of the Pontine Marshes south of Rome during two phases of its existence: first, under the fascist regime; second, in the content of recent populist phenomena in the Italian political and cultural landscape. Through an interdisciplinary lens (critical geography, ecology, landscape architecture, urbanism, architectural history, media studies, literary theory), Stewart-Steinberg considers “grounds” in wide terms, as they are invoked both literally as the making of a physical space and metaphorically as the making of a political or intellectual argument. “Reclamation” as a project and a concept becomes a useful conceptual tool to understand the many ways in which fascism has surfaced and continues to return in Italy today. The digital publication will be organized around the concept of the “grid,” and will feature excerpts from fascist films and documentaries on the region.

A collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, generously launched with support from the Mellon Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Brown University Digital Publications creates exciting new conditions for the production and sharing of knowledge. Widely recognized as accessible, intentional, and inclusive, Brown’s novel, university-based approach to digital content development is helping to set the standards for the future of scholarship in the digital age.

Projects that are selected by the program’s Faculty Advisory Committee are developed as enhanced digital works that draw on 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.

The program’s first born-digital monograph, 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 (University of Virginia Press, 2020) was recently awarded the 2022 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History by the American Historical Association. The second and third faculty-authored digital monographs were published earlier this year to wide acclaim and already enjoy a global readership: Shadow Plays: Virtual Realities in an Analog World by Massimo Riva, Professor of Italian Studies (Stanford University Press, 2022); and A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures by Shahzad Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Professor of History (MIT Press, 2022).

Other digital works currently under development include: 

  • 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; 
  • Standing Still Moving: Arts of Gesture in Lateral Time by Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Modern Culture and Media; 
  • Chika Sagawa, Japanese Modernist Poet by Sawako Nakayasu, Assistant Professor of Literary Arts;
  • Travels in Search of the Slave Past: Monuments, Memorials, Sites of Slavery by Renée Ater, Provost’s Visiting Professor of Africana Studies.
  • Imperial Unsettling: Indigenous and Immigrant Activism Toward Collective Liberation by Kevin Escudero, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies;
  • Art, Secrecy, and Invisibility in Ancient Egypt by Laurel Bestock, Associate Professor of Archaeology and the Ancient World & Egyptology and Assyriology;
  • Trojan Women in Performance by Avery Willis Hoffman, Inaugural Artistic Director, Brown Arts Institute, Professor of the Practice of Arts and Classics
  • The Ruin Archive: Art and War at the Ends of Empire by Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar, Associate Professor of History; and
  • Border Assemblages: Re-collecting Moria by Yannis Hamilakis, Joukowsky Family Professor of Archaeology and Professor of Modern Greek Studies.

In addition to developing the Mellon humanities portfolio, Brown University Digital Publications produces university projects such as the revised and expanded edition of Brown’s Slavery and Justice Report and the 13-volume Race &…in America digital series. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Brown University Library has established a training institute, Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing: Resources and Roadmaps, designed for scholars who wish to develop innovative born-digital publications but may lack the necessary resources and capacity at their home institutions.

To learn more about Brown University Digital Publications, contact Director Allison Levy ([email protected]).