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Jeffrey Schnapp (metaLAB(at)Harvard, Harvard University)

Jeffrey Schnapp

Jeffrey Schnapp
Image Credit: Piaggio Fast Forward

Fellow in Research Area 2: "Travelling Matters"

May 2022

Temporal Communities at Scale

To embrace a global perspective is, by its very nature, to step outside of the conventional boundaries of interpretive and historiographical practice that have long characterised the field of literary studies. As one scales the move to the “global” beyond the confines of such historically grounded disciplinary frameworks as “Weltliteratur” (Goethe, Wieland) or “Allgemeine” or “Vergleichende Literatur” (Wellek, Szondi) or, even, the more recent iterations of Global Literature (David Damrosch’s work, for instance), one approaches the domain of networks: networks that are synchronous and rely upon communications infrastructures ranging from postal systems to electronic media; but also networks that are asynchronous and bind together people, languages, places, artistic media and epochs, often in unexpected, unpredictable, non-linear manners. Temporal Communities at Scale builds on two decades of experimentation carried out at the Stanford Humanities Lab and metaLAB (at) Harvard with the extraction of knowledge, storytelling possibilities and new embodiments of knowledge, across media, from the ever-expanding expression of network culture that are databases. It explores the transformation of abstract data, cultural databases and digital textual repositories into storytelling machines that are capable both of producing new knowledge as well as translating this knowledge into meaningful objects of experience — sometimes even multisensorial objects of experience.

Jeffrey Schnapp is the founder/faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He holds the Carl A. Pescosolido Chair in Romance Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and is on the teaching faculty in the Department of Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Originally trained as a medievalist, his recent publications concern the modern and contemporary eras with a focus on media, architecture, design, mobility and the history of the book. They include The Electric Information Age Book ([Princeton Architectural Press 2012]); an anthology of essays on 20th century Italian art, literature, design, and architecture entitled Modernitalia (Peter Lang 2012); The Library Beyond the Book (Harvard University Press 2014), co-authored with Matthew Battles; and Blueprint for Counter Education — Expanded Reprint, a critical edition of Maurice Stein and Larry Miller’s 1970 work of radical pedagogy, and FuturPiaggio. Six Italian Lessons on Mobility and Modern Life, (Rizzoli International 2017). Moto Guzzi 100 Years, his edited book celebrating the centenary of the marque from Mandello del Lario, appeared in both English and Italian in 2021 with Rizzoli International. He is the editor of the metaLABprojects series with MIT Press whose most recent book is Michael John Gorman’s Idea Colliders: The Future of Science Museums (MIT 2021).