Monday, October 24, 2005

I don't seem to have mentioned it here before, but Fr. Ong was concerned with issues of race from at least the mid-1950s. I've come across a number of both letters and public letters/talks in which he discusses racism, both overt and subtle, though he seems to have focused more on subtle racism, especially racism through language. One example he liked to cite was a priest, while addressing his mixed-race congregation, said something like "We need to better accept our colored brethren into the community." What, Fr. Ong asked, were the African-American members of the congregation supposed to make of this use of "we" which clearly excluded them, people supposedly already members of the community.

His most poignant example, I think, comes from an incident which took place at the Kansas City bus station in (I believe) the early 1960s. He was in line waiting to buy a ticket back to St. Louis and in line before him was an African-American woman with a young child. They were running late and the bus they wanted was about to leave. The ticket seller asked if someone would go to the bus and ask the driver to wait, and Fr. Ong did, telling the bus driver that a woman and her child were on their way. A few minutes later, the driver came up to the ticket booth and asked the ticket seller where the woman and child were. "They got on your bus already" she told him. "They did?" he asked. "Yes, that colored woman and child," she said. The bus driver then turned to Ong and said "Why didn't you tell me they were colored?"

With this as preface, I can now push Ong's interest in race back to the mid-1940s. In the Oct. 1946 issue of Interracial Review, he published a review of Richard I. McKinney's Religion in Higher Education Among Negroes.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin offers the site Teaching Gutenberg. In all, an excellent site which focuses on two themes, "The Invention" and " Books Before and After the Gutenberg Bible."

The Invention
Just what did Johann Gutenberg invent? What need in society was he addressing with this invention? How did he adapt existing technology for a new use?

This theme focuses on what is known about how Gutenberg printed the Bible, why he chose a Bible for his first large-scale printing project, what the book looked like when first printed, and what is unique about the Ransom Center's copy.
Books Before and After the Gutenberg Bible
When and where did writing begin? What were the tools and materials that ancient and medieval writers used? What were the innovations in reading and writing? What changed with printing?

This theme focuses on the technology and materials of writing from 3000 BCE to 1450 CE, from cuneiform tablets to medieval illuminated manuscripts. It then traces the social and cultural impact of printing technology upon the late medieval European world.
The site also offers a number of learning activities for K-12 students.

via Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

Cross-posted to Machina Memorialis.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Via the Digital Medievalist Community mailing list. Please note that I am not affiliated with the conference. Please see their web site for contact information.

The 7th Computers, Literature and Philology (CLiP) conference:
'Literatures, Languages and Cultural Heritage in a digital world'

Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London, UK
Thursday 29 June - Saturday 1 July 2006

The international Computers, Literature and Philology (CLiP) conference has taken place at a variety of European universities since the first conference in 1998. The initiative for the first seminar was taken by literary scholars who were not only aware of the importance of new technologies for the humanities, but also of what the humanities had contributed to the creation of digital culture in general and to the content of the Internet in particular.

The discussions at CLiP conferences focus on the integration of Philology and Information Technology. In this context, 'Literature' and 'Philology' are to be understood in more general terms. 'Literature' means all sorts of texts (spoken, written, hypertext etc.), which may also contain images, sound materials, graphs etc. 'Philology' means the scholarship devoted to these texts from diverse perspectives. The theoretical and practical questions posed by the creation of digital materials and the integration of Philology and media technologies are debated. The implications for research and teaching are examined and current projects in the field are presented.

This conference can best be seen as a three-day seminar, in that there are no parallel sessions, there is as coherent an academic focus as possible and the participation of young scholars is actively encouraged. One of the key objectives of CLiP is to open an independent humanities computing space specifically - although not exclusively - dedicated to the emerging humanities computing communities in the fields of study that are relevant to the Romance languages areas.

CLiP conferences approach these issues from a multicultural European perspective and aim to foment international collaboration in research and teaching as a result. These discussions are part of the international debate about the discipline of Humanities Computing which is happening at the interface between the Humanities and Information Technology. The participants are also interested in the exchange of ideas, methods and techniques with scholars from outside Europe.

We welcome submissions that discuss any aspect of the interface between languages, literature, cultural heritage and Information Technology.

Suitable topics for proposals might include:

  • literary and linguistic research including:

    • text encoding systems;

    • digital publishing;

    • digital editions;

    • digital philology;

    • text analysis;

    • text corpora;

    • linguistics, particularly corpus linguistics;

    • new media approaches to the field

  • multingualism and multiculturalism

    • access of cultural heritage in a multilingual environment;

    • theoretical and practical treatment of issues related to multilingualism and multiculturalism;

    • the development of standards/guidelines and generic digital approaches, particularly those appropriate to multilingual and multicultural contexts

  • education and training

    • the impact of computing on education and training from a multilingual and multicultural perspective;

    • the specific role of technology in languages

  • humanities computing as a field

    • critical evaluation of the role and impact of new technologies on the humanities and its wider social significance;

    • the role of humanities computing in fomenting interdisciplinarity;

    • international policies for humanities computing;

    • humanities computing from a global perspective

Submissions may be of two types:
  1. Papers. Abstract submissions should be of 500-1000 words. The duration of each paper will be 20 minutes. Submissions are peer-reviewed.

  2. Posters/demonstrations. These will consist of poster presentations or demonstrations of software and will also be peer-reviewed. They will typically be appropriate for those seeking to demonstrate current projects and other work in progress. Posters will be displayed throughout the conference in a central area to ensure maximum opportunity for feedback/discussion with other delegates. Proposals for posters/software demonstrations should be submitted as short abstracts of no more than 250 words.

A prize will be awarded to the best poster.

We anticipate that a limited number of bursaries will be available for young scholars who have their paper or poster submission accepted. The deadlines for application for bursaries is January 30, 2006.

Submissions may be in Spanish, Italian, German, French or English.

Presentations may be given in the language of the accepted abstract. If the language is not English we strongly recommend the use of slides in English to facilitate comprehension. If the language is English, we strongly recommend the use of slides in one of the other languages named above.

The deadline for paper and poster submissions is December 8, 2005. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by February 27, 2006

The conference website is at:

Please see website for versions of Call for papers in other languages.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

From Fr. Ong's MLA 1984 presentation on literacy studies, given in the panel "What is Literacy Theory," which exists as a 5 page double-spaced typescript (handwritten revisions are blue):
It is certainly crucial that the study of literacy, and of orality-literacy contrasts, be familiar to those working in the history and theories of education, cognitive-development psychology, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, rhetoric and--most especially--logic and metaphysics, theology and biblical studies, general semantics, communications, and political socialization, not to mention technological development in Third World countries as well as marketing in these countries (James Hauf has recently delivered an important paper at an international convention on the misapprehensions all too evident in the high-technology marketing in oral cultures.). But, perhaps most urgently of all, teachers of basic writing need knowledge of literacy or orality-literacy studies. They need them to understand many of their students' present difficulties but also to understand themselves and the work that they are [page break] engaged in." (2-3)
For a while now, I've been working under the assumption that literacy studies and orality-literacy studies are not the same thing, and that the "orality-literacy" wars of the mid-1980s were the result of assuming that these two closely related and overlapping fields were in fact one field.

It seems, from the handwritten revisions, that Ong wanted to make this point too, though as the orality-literacy wars weren't in full swing yet, it's not a point that gets foregrounded. Maybe he would have foregrounded it more if he'd known what was on the horizon. Maybe he was too much in the mix and its the 20 years of distance that lets me make this observation. Either way, he appears not to be comfortable with just literacy or just orality-literacy contrasts but seems to suggest that both exist together but separate from each other. Something I'll want to come back to when I work on my "The Orality-Literacy Debate and Academic Error" project.

Also worth pointing out in this short paper is this comment on how writing restructures thought. I'm fairly certain that most people who object to this notion don't understand what Ong means by it:
The ultimate depth at which writing affects thought has been suggested by Eric A. Havelock's recent monograph, "The Linguistic Task of the Presocratics," in Language and Thought in Early Greek Philosophy, edited by Kevin Robb (LaSalle, Ill.: Monist Library of Philosophy for the Hegeler Institute, 1983), 3-89. Although he does not put it in exactly these terms, Havelock here shows that writing separated being from time in human consciousness, providing metaphysic not only its strategic instrument--writing is the strategic instrument of all formal science--but also its quarry, being itself, isolated from the knower and purportedly from time. Heidegger's rejoining of being and time in his Sein und Zeit is one more indication that we are beyond the old-style textuality, although Heideggar remains a writer, so that, as has been said, his efforts are less than fully successful. (4)

The typescript is in Scholarship: Personal Bibliography: Texts of Talks: Folder 22.

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Dennis G. Jerz has already linked to and quoted my favorite passage from Matthew Kirschenbaum's "Lost and Found in Cyberspace," so let me quote from another passage:
In terms of challenges to future historians, Donadio cites Steven Kellman who has just written a new biography of Henry Roth; he suggests, rather indisputably, that “Our understanding of the Constitution . . . would be quite different if the thoughts about it exchanged by Jefferson, Madison and Monroe had vanished into the electronic ether.” True enough. But there’s nothing inherent in the technology that makes email especially susceptible to vanishing into the electronic ether. On the contrary, as Oliver North and other malefactors have found out, the stuff is remarkably pesky and hard to expunge. A single email message may leave traces of itself inscribed on a dozen different servers as it makes its way across the network, a potential for proliferation that is further exacerbated by backup services at each site. While I don’t mean to minimize the very real technical challenges in the realm of digital preservation, it’s worth remembering that email and other textual forms have it easier than with other media since often we’re dealing with ASCII and XML rather than binaries and proprietary formats.
Kirschenbaum is one of my favorite scholars of the materiality of digital texts and well worth keeping an eye on.

Cross-posted to Machina Memorialis.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

I've come across two accounts by Fr. Ong of Saint Louis University in the late 1930s and early 1940s, which covers the time he was here as an M.A. student studying under Marshall McLuhan and as a Jesuit scholastic. They are:

-"Reminiscences concerned with Saint Louis University in the Late 1930's and Early 1940's" which Fr. Ong dictated in 1966 at Fr. Faherty's request

-"Recollections and Reflections on Marshall McLuhan and Related Matters" which is the transcript of an interview of Fr. Ong by James Costigan in 1969.

Both are in the following folder:

Scholarship: Personal Biblography: Texts of Various Talks, Papers, Etc.:
folder 17

which will eventually have a unique call number that reflects the above information: that it's in folder 17 of the sub-subseries "Texts of Various Talks, Papers, Etc." which is part of the subseries "Personal Bibliography" which is part of the series

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