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  • SN-0040 Keywords for American Cultural Studies -- Website and Collaboratories

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Keywords for American Cultural Studies -- Website and Collaboratories

Collection Date: 5 January 2009
Scholar #1 Info:

  • Name: Bruce Burgett
  • Email: burgett@u.washington.edu
  • Title: Professor
  • Institution/Organization: University of Washington Bothell
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: American Studies, Cultural Studies

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Bruce Burgett
  • Email: burgett@u.washington.edu
  • Title: Professor
  • Institution/Organization: University of Washington Bothell

Scholar #2 Info:

  • Name: Glenn Hendler
  • Email: ghendler@fordham.edu
  • Title: Associate Professor and Director of American Studies
  • Institution/Organization: Fordham University 
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: English, American Studies

Scholar #3 Info:

  • Name: Deborah Kimmey
  • Email: dkimmey@u.washington.edu
  • Title: PhD Candidate
  • Institution/Organization: University of Washington
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: English, American Studies, Queer Studies

Notes on Methodology:

Collaborative in design and execution, Keywords for American Cultural Studies collects sixty-four new essays from interdisciplinary scholars, each on a single term such as "America," "body," "ethnicity," and "religion." Alongside "community," "immigration," "queer," and many others, these words are the nodal points in many of today's most dynamic and vexed discussions of political and social life, both inside and outside of the academy.  This digital project supplements and continues the discussions begun in the print volume, published by New York University Press in 2007 and co-edited by Bruce Burgett (Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell and Glenn Hendler (American Studies and English, Fordham University). 

Coordinated by Deborah Kimmey (PhC, English, University of Washingon Seattle), the website is a partnership between NYU Press and the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities.  Using the same platform as wikipedia, the site contains a main page designed to introduce users to the book and the site (http://keywords.nyupress.org/), a blog where discussions of related conference panels and other events occur (http://depts.washington.edu/keywords/forums/);, and collaboratories where classes and working groups may develop keywords projects of their own (http://depts.washington.edu/keywords/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page).

As co-editors of Keywords for American Cultural Studies, Burgett and Hendler had several reasons for developing the website.  As they stress in the introduction to the book, keyword projects do more than map existing fields of knowledge (or tag knowledge networks).  They also invite and encourage future work.  The trouble with books is that they tend to be read as summaries of knowledge made by their authors, not as provocations to further research and reflection.  The advantage of interactive websites like this one is that they can house, archive, and inspire new inquiries and collaborations.  This insight is critical to the cultural studies methodology the book and website deploy. 

This methodological emphasis on the importance of ongoing reflection and collaboration is the reason Raymond Williams included blank pages at the back of his Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, the earlier book from which Keywords for American Cultural Studies drew its title and inspiration.  Williams thought of those blank pages as a sign to readers that the inquiry contained in his book remained open.  The website is a technologically updated version of those pages.

Scope

  1. There are different levels of participation in this project. Viewers can browse the site or blog; participants can log in to take part in keywords projects; teachers and working group leaders can host and assess projects on the site; individual or collaborative authors of projects can publish their completed projects to the site.  
  2. The website is intended to invite and encourage collaboration across different courses, campuses, and working groups.
  3. Undergraduate and graduate students, educated lay readers, and specialized scholars in the arts, humanities, and social ad natural sciences.
  4. To date, the website has hosted projects developed at Fordham University, the University of Washington, and UCLA, among others.
  5. To date, the website has been the topic of sessions at meetings of the Cultural Studies Association (U.S.) the International Association for Cultural Studies, and the American Studies Association.

Keywords

Please provide some keywords that will allow us to group or cluster related stories--or aspects of stories.

1. Was this story collected for a particular Bamboo working group?  If so, please include, as keywords, the appropriate group(s).

  • Stories

2. Suggested keywords: Does this story contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones and briefly describe the mapping.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

3. Please list additional keywords here:

This is an odd prompt in this context, but we would add: collaboratory, genealogy, knowledge creation, cultural studies, American studies

4. Related Stories: Are there parts of the story that relate to other collected stories? Please provide title(s) and link to the story page. 

Story   

When most people hear the term "keyword," they think of databases or google searches.  In a book titled Keywords for American Cultural Studies (NYU Press 2007), co-editors Bruce Burgett (Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell) and Glenn Hendler (American Studies and English, Fordham University) take the term in a different direction. 

Extending the influential work of British cultural studies scholar Raymond Williams and his Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976), Burgett and Hendler consider a keyword as much more than a term providing access to existing sources of information. Instead their volume focuses on the ways in which the historical and contemporary uses of specific words create nodal points in many of today's most critical debates about political and social life, revealing often overlooked connections among different kinds of cultural research, both inside and outside of the academy.   

Collaboration is the keyword of these efforts.  The volume and the website that accompanies it engage readers and participants as makers of meaning, asking them to revise, reject, and respond to the entries that do and do not appear in the volume.  The point is that the discussions presented in the volume need to remain open to further elaboration and amendment. That's essential to any problem-based understanding of how research is conducted and how knowledge is made, either inside or outside academic settings.  The ultimate goal is for readers to move through critique by adding or making something new. That thing can be as minor as a new conversation or classroom assignment or as major as an edited volume, digital archive, or public initiative. 

Using embedded wiki technology, the keywords collaboratories are the centerpiece of the website.  They allow groups of users to compose and revise their keywords entries as part of a class assignment or working group project.  Sample assignments are available on the site and rhe resulting entries may be submitted to Burgett and Hendler for publication there.  These types of assignments - ones with a meaningful publication that circulates beyond the walls of the classroom - ups the ante for students and participants, who tend to learn more and to produce much better work as a consequence.

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