Announcement: Digital Humanities Project, “The End of Austin,” Seeks Contributors

An end of Austin

Last year, we featured a fascinating digital humanities project, “The End of Austin,” that emerged from a graduate seminar led by Dr. Randy Lewis. This week, we’re pleased to share the news that a small editorial collective will be continuing the project and broadening their call for content to the community at large. Randy offers this call for contributions:

We are moving forward on the second issue of The End of Austin, a digital humanities project that explores the idea of endings in our fair city. We would love to have a contribution from you–a bit of writing, photos, video, art, a song, anything that somehow explores this idea that things are dying, ending, expiring, collapsing in the midst of our growth-obsessed sunbelt burg.

If you are curious, here is an article about the original project, and here is the first installment of the project.

We hope to do something bigger and wilder for issue number two. Our goal is to assemble something interesting, beautiful, meaningful, and disconcerting for release in early 2013. If you would like to contribute something, that’s wonderful. But also think about sharing this with friends, students, and colleagues who might be good at exploring this nexus of art, documentary and cultural geography broadly conceived.

If you have questions, comments, or a submission for the project, get in touch with the board at endofaustin (at) gmail (dot) com. And, again, the first installment can be found here.

Faculty Research: Dr. Randy Lewis on Unplugging at Flow

Plug
Dr. Randy Lewis has a new piece over at Flow that questions why it is so difficult to imagine unplugging from the constant buzz of electronics that characterizes modern life:

Yet… are we not curious about how it would feel to experience the “great unplugging”? Would we relish the ensuing silence as we restore the old ways of communicating and connecting with one another? Or would we lapse into a languorous funk without Google and HBOAvatar and Annoying Orange? Would we feel permanently stuck in the isolation tank of our own boredom, marooned with the hideousness of our own organic thoughts? Would we start sketching the “Real Housewives” on the walls of our condos in crayon, breathlessly narrating their erotic adventures like an ancient bards singing the tale Odysseus and the sirens? Would we pine for our iPhones, laptops, and flatscreen TVs like postmodern amputees cursing the loss of our cyborg appendages? Would we grieve for our machines?

Probably. But what fascinates me is how loathe we are to even imagine this scenario. We are increasingly unwilling to contemplate the absence of the various screens that convey so much of our entertainment, sociality, and labor. Like Francis Fukuyama’s Cold War “End of History” argument in which capitalism’s apparent triumph over socialism foreclosed any discussion of alternatives, the new media juggernaut is so powerful that it has blotted out our ability to imagine anything else. We are all hopeless screenagers now.

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List: 7 Films from 2011 that American Studies Scholars Should See

Somehow, it’s already December, and you know what that means: a million year-end lists of the best (and worst) 2011 had to offer. So we’re throwing our collective hat in the ring with this list of the best movies from 2011 that are of particular interest to American Studies scholars of all stripes. We can’t vouch for the  quality of all these, of course, but they at least provide some fodder for folks to potentially research and write about.

Quick note: there are a ton of worthwhile documentary films that were released this year that are worth a look, but this list only highlights fictional films. Have fun!

Drive

Ryan Gosling stars in this intense homage to a very gritty Los Angeles. He plays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, but a botched heist leaves him with a contract on his head. Though the film’s storyline is predominantly a tale of the unnamed driver dealing with a variety of folks who try to kill him, Drive also offers a fascinating and dark portrayal of the city. Visually and musically, it’s 1980s-style noir at its best (but caveat emptor: the violence is sporadic but incredibly graphic).

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