The Critical Theory Digital Archive

By Erin Obodiac.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper discusses a proposal to develop a Critical Theory Digital Archive at UC Irvine, the first public digital archive representing the field of critical theory and the scholarly papers of the world’s leading critical theorists. As a transformative epistemic infrastructure, The CTDA will reconfigure the act of publishing and the act of archiving as one hybrid procedure. Our era of digital technology—an era of open access, multi-media, and infinite reproducibility—challenges the nature, authority, and future of archives in general.
Re-imaging a critical theory archive as a digital entity requires examining what critical theorists themselves say about information technologies, digital scholarship, and open access dissemination. One notorious challenge is Jacques Derrida’s statements concerning the technical reproduction of his own papers housed at UC Irvine and IMEC in France. Although Derrida’s reservations about digital technologies perhaps belong to the particular circumstances of his own archives, these reservations also represent a theoretical/practical resistance that confronts any digital archive. This prompts three questions:
1.Trust, Copy-Left, and the Digital Archive Contract: following the current collapse of the global capitalist contract, the issuing of paperless digital monetary documents, and the struggles of the open access movement, what is the nature of trust, intellectual collaboration, and institutional anchoring in our era of Digital Promises?
2.Technics of Digital Inscription: if our era of technics tends to treat literary texts as mere information, yet the peculiar materiality of literary inscription resists universal abstraction, what impact does technical reproduction have on literary archives?
3.Digital Haptology and the Tele-Archive: if the human hand and eye both stand outside of as well as determine the Digital Experience, and if reading and writing have always been the virtual experience par excellence, in what manner should scholarly collaborators keep or not “keep in touch” with each other, their research, and academic institutions?

Keywords: The Critical Theory Digital Archive, Critical Theory, Digital Archives

International Journal of the Book, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.155-164. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.197MB).

Dr. Erin Obodiac

Lecturer, Humanities, The University of California, Irvine, California, USA

I completed my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine in September 2007. My dissertation, Technics and the Sublime, was written under the direction of Andrzej Warminski (Chair), Ellen Burt, Jacques Derrida, Alex Gelley, and J. Hillis Miller. I received my undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Cornell University, graduating B.A. summa cum laude. My research and teaching interests include the institutional history of deconstruction, the theologic remainder in both early and late Heidegger, the inscriptional modeling of bioinformatics, and the critique of philosophical aesthetics. As well as lecturing in the Humanities at UCI, this past year I have been a postdoctoral researcher for the University of Leeds, England on the Paul de Man: Rousseau Papers project, funded by the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. In addition to researching the Paul de Man Papers housed at the University of California, Irvine’s Special Collections and Archives, the project involved the transcription and editing of de Man’s unpublished works, and the organization of the conference “Property, Sovereignty, and the Theotropic: Paul de Man’s Political Archive” on April 24/25, 2009.


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