eHistory and the Discipline: New Perspectives and New Challenges—Russia and Beyond
eHistory and the Discipline: New Perspectives and New Challenges
Historians deliberately appropriate and apply analytical tools and theoretical constructs of other disciplines, and thereby enrich the depth and scope of historical research. Less deliberate, but perhaps more widely experienced is the evolution of the discipline in response to technical change in the instruments of communication and management of information. Historical information available on the internet changes and expands daily. Websites appear and disappear. Search engines shape and misshape historical inquiry, and wiki vehicles offer opportunities for participatory reconstruction with live commentary on the past. Widespread access to the internet exposes new audiences to history in novel contexts, such as electronic games with counterfactual presentations of the past, and you-tube videos of large-scale historical reenactments. The proposed panel addresses how innovations in information technology bring changes in the applications of the historical discipline to visual imagery, canonical texts, literary translation, and popular entertainment. The panelists use the context of Russia to explore the issues. The topic of the panel should be of interest to a broad audience of historians considering these questions in their own work, and interacting with students adept at multi-tasking on the internet (even during class time).
In the first paper, Boris Dralyuk examines representations of Russia as a historical cultural entity in electronic media, and considers how the media shape the experience of readers of literature in translation. In the second paper, Christopher Stolarski reminds us that photographs presented malleable visual images even before the days of Photoshop. He discusses the history of photography in Russia and the significance of visual editing as the technology to alter photographs has changed. Jeffrey Brooks argues in the final paper that literary and cultural genres of historical reconstruction have deep roots in Russia, and expanded greatly with sequential technical change; in the printing industry in the nineteenth century, in film in the twentieth, and in electronic gaming in the twenty-first.
The papers will be available in advance of the panel, as will summary remarks of the commentator. During the session presenters will take seven minutes to summarize key conclusions of the papers. Nikolay Koposov, the session chair and commentator, will encourage the audience and participants to consider the implications for professional historians of the shift from print to photography, film, and finally to the digital historical experience of our online era. He will also pose questions to the presenters and participants, drawing on issues that emerge in common from the three different papers. The remaining time will be devoted to discussion in which the presenters serve as panelists and interact with the audience. Participants will be invited to submit questions in advance to the chair for inclusion in the discussion period.