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Alan Liu

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 16 years, 7 months ago

Alan Liu

What is the idea of knowledge work? What is its relation to the knowledge of the humanities in the contemporary academy? And how does focusing specifically on "information work"--on its technologies, techniques, and, ultimately, culture--help us understand this relation?

- The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, p. 22


Alan Liu is Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and previously a faculty member in the English Department and British Studies Program at Yale University. He began his research career in the field of British romantic literature and art, where his first book on Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989) explored the relation between the imaginative experiences of literature and history. In a series of theoretical essays in the 1990s, he extended the methodological work of this book by exploring cultural criticism, the "new historicism," and postmodernism in contemporary literary studies. In 1994, when he started his Voice of the Shuttle Web site for humanities research, he began to study information culture as a way to close the circuit between his interest in the fate of historical imagination and his parallel interest in technology. What is the relation between the imaginative experience of history and that of apparently instantaneous, history-less information culture? In 2004, Liu published his The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (Univ. of Chicago Press). Also forthcoming in 2008 from Univ. of Chicago Press is Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database. Liu is principal investigator of the University of California interdisciplinary research project titled Transliteracies: Research in the Technological, Social, and Cultural Practices of Online Reading and also of the NEH-funded, UCSB Teaching with Technology project titled Transcriptions: Literature and the Culture of Information, and co-director of the English Dept’s undergraduate specialization on Literature and the Culture of Information. From 2002 to 2007 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) and chair of the Technology/Software Committee of the ELO’s PAD Initiative] (Preservation / Archiving / Dissemination of Electronic Literature). (See his home page).

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