Last week, I went to see the rhetorician and disability studies scholar Margaret Price lead a discussion about her new book, Mad at School: Rhetorics of Disability and Academic Life. I was curious for a lot of reasons. Mostly, I’ve been interested in disability studies lately, for the simple reason that I keep learning stuff that makes me say, “Huh. I never thought of it that way.” And isn’t that really what the best scholarship does?
Anyway, I took a lot away from Price’s talk, which was about finding ways to accommodate and acknowledge psychiatric difference in the academy. The concept that’s especially stuck with me is something that Price calls “kairotic space.”
I was recently doing research at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland. I was looking at documents related to the military’s venereal-disease prevention efforts during World War I. Here’s the funniest document I found:
The more I work on this subject of venereal disease prevention the more I am impressed with what seems to me to be the fact that a considerable number of women indulge in sexual intercourse for the same reasons that men do, for the pleasure and excitement that they get from it. Happily, the number of them is very much less than the number of men who do so.
That’s from a letter dated Dec. 30, 1919, from Colonel P.M. Andrews, Colonel, Medical Corps, to Dr. Charles L. Miller of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the Surgeon General’s Office General Correspondence, 1917–1927, Record Group 112, Box 421.
A lot of my research is on medical filmmaking: films that physicians and other medical professionals made for each other. It turns out that there are a lot of these. Doctors have been making movies since the invention of the medium.
I’m fascinated by a strain of thought that recurs frequently in discussions of anatomical films. Here’s an example from 1919:
The films of the Surgeon General’s Library will be available to teachers in the army and medical schools and the profession, just as the books in the Surgeon General’s Library are for study and reference.¹
I’ve been using an iPad for about six months now. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but it hasn’t been the life-changing device I’d sort of been expecting. I haven’t found that many apps that really take advantage of the specific qualities of the iPad: its shape and size, the multi-touch surface. (Some exceptions: Flipboard, for reading news, and Aweditorium, for discovering new music.)
I’ve been excited about one particular app, though, because it evinces such careful attention to the way that film scholars want to spend time with their medium. Film Study is a free iPad app that makes it easy and natural to take time-stamped notes on films as they play.
I’m excited that we have a publication date for an essay collection I’m contributing to. Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States will be published by Oxford in winter 2011. The editors are Marsha Orgeron, Devin Orgeron, and Dan Streible. From the flyer:
Learning with the Lights Off is the first collection of essays to address the phenomenon of film’s educational uses in twentieth-century America. Nontheatrical film in general and educational films in particular represent an exciting new area of inquiry in media and cultural studies. This collection illuminates a vastly influential form of filmmaking seen by millions of people around the world. The essays reveal significant insights into film’s powerful role in twentieth century American culture as a medium of instruction and guidance.
My essay is on Thomas Edison’s Red Cross Seal films, which I’ve posted about here. I really liked working with Marsha, Devin, and Dan. Their edits made my work much, much stronger. The full list of contributors:
The academics in the room started out by saying that they weren’t sure when it was appropriate to ask for assistance from a librarian. At what point, they wondered, are we impinging on the librarian’s time? Librarians responded that it sounded as though they needed to give out better information about the specific services librarians offer, like research interviews. In general, they said, they welcome any kind of consultation. “We get paid to be interrupted!” one librarian said.
Today at THATCamp Southeast I helped organize a session (with Andrew Famiglietti from Georgia Tech) called Research Hacks. We brainstormed ways to use technology to enhance research, both at the archive and when examining born-digital sources. After I proposed the session, I had a moment of panic when I realized I didn’t really have any great hacks to offer. Luckily, I had a few hours and the impetus to finally put together some techniques I’d been meaning to investigate.
Like many researchers, I use a camera to take photos of documents during archival research trips. My problem comes when I arrive home with a bunch of photos that look like this:
Ugh. What to do with all these “DSCs”? Here’s a way to convert those images into documents that are actually searchable and usable.