Recent years have witnessed a growing turn to experimental historical research in the history of media technologies. In addition to archival investigation and oral history interviews, historians and enthusiasts are increasingly uncovering histories of technology through hands-on exercises in simulation and re-enactment. Equipment lovingly restored by amateurs, or preserved by national heritage collections, is being placed in the hands of the people who once operated it, provoking a new and rich flood of memories.
The turn to experimental research raises profound methodological questions. The unreliability of narrative memory is well proven, but what do we know about the limits of haptic and tactile memory? To what extent is it possible to elicit useful memories of technological arrays when parts of those arrays are missing or non-functional? How do the owners of old equipment shape the historical narratives which are stimulated by their collections?
Hands-On History is a colloquium designed to facilitate discussion of these issues between historians, users, curators and archivists (amateur and professional) who are making use of and taking part in these historical enquiries. In addition to a series of keynote presentations by leading scholars in the field, the event will also include stimulating workshops on specific focus areas.
Prof. Susan J. Douglas (Professor of Communication Studies, University of Michigan)
Prof. John Ellis (Professor of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London)
Dr. Gerard Alberts (Associate Professor of the History of Mathematics and Computing, University of Amsterdam)
Prof. Annie van den Oever (Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen)
Prof. Andreas Fickers (Faculté des Lettres, des Sciences Humaines, des Arts et des Sciences de l’Education, University of Luxembourg)
For more information, please visit handson2016.wordpress.com.