Please join us Tuesday, April 5th at 12:15 PM in the CTLR Lounge for a lunchtime discussion with Kevin Ferguson on some playful and interdisciplinary approaches to digital scholarship that use technologies developed in other fields (like the medical imaging software ImageJ) to answer humanistic questions. Lunch will be served, so please RSVP here. He also has some free time during the day on Wednesday, so if you’d like to learn more about ImageJ or chat with him email Alicia Peaker with your availability.
Most digital humanities approaches pursue traditional forms of scholarship by extracting a single variable from cultural texts that is already legible to scholars. Instead, this talk advocates a mostly-ignored “digital-surrealism” that uses computer-based methods to transform film texts in radical ways not previously possible. The return to a surrealist and avant-garde tradition requires a unique kind of research, which is newly possible now that humanists have made the digital turn. I take a surrealist view of the hidden in order to imagine what aspects of media texts are literally impossible to see without special computer-assisted techniques. What in the archive is in plain sight but still invisible? What in the cinema is so buried that our naked eyes are unable to see it? Here I present one such method, using the z-projection function of the scientific image analysis software ImageJ, to sum film frames in order to create new composite images. I examine four corpora of what would normally be considered rather different types of film: (1) the animated features produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, (2) a representative selection of the western genre (including American and Italian “spaghetti” westerns), (3) a group of gialli (stylish horror films originating from Italy that influenced American slasher films), and (4) the series of popular Japanese Zatoichi films, following the adventures of the titular blind masseuse and swordsman living in 1830s Japan.
Kevin Ferguson is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of Writing at Queens College (CUNY). He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on college writing, contemporary literature, and film adaptation.
Noticed that an ebook you’ve previously seen no longer appears available? There are several possible reasons, but the most likely one right now is that it was removed from our collection because of its cost. The Library has many sources for ebooks, and the largest one is a company called Ebook Library (EBL). We have some 200,000 EBL records in our catalog, of which we own only .6%. The rest are there for access as needed, and we don’t pay for them until they’re actually used. This is a recently developed program called Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA). A vastly oversimplified description is that for the first four uses, the library pays a percentage of the full purchase price, and the fifth use triggers an automatic purchase. DDA lets us offer a tremendous range of ebooks at a small fraction of the full purchase price. Over the last four years, we’ve paid less than $500,000 for access to more than $8 million worth of books.
However, in the last two years, many publishers have decided they weren’t making enough money, so they dramatically hiked their fees for those first four uses, which has sent our library’s costs skyrocketing. We’ve shifted some funds from print purchasing to cover the additional ebook costs, but the only way to moderate expenditures for the longer term is to remove the most expensive titles, along with titles from the most expensive publishers.
What to do? If you’re not finding something you’d previously seen, or if you come across a catalog link that doesn’t work (removing the catalog records tends to lag behind the actual ebook access), email us right away, and we might be able to get it back. If we can’t, we’ll work on finding another way to lay hands on the material for you.