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September 15, 2006

Historians and Technology

Yesterday was the kickoff lecture for this year's program at the Institute for Historical Studies, a center for historical research on campus that began last year. As part of the ongoing theme, "History and the Visual," guest speaker Victoria da Grazia (from Columbia), was going to give a talk titled, "Visualizing U.S. Cultural Hegemony in 20th Century Europe: A Big Problem." Her talk was slated to begin at 4pm, which, at the University of Michigan, actually means 4:10. But by 4:20, the talk still hadn't started. IHS director Kathleen Canning announced that they were still trying to get da Grazia's power point working, and that the talk would begin momentarily. As an aside, she said that, if they didn't get it working soon, they would have to break out the wine. Which is exactly what ended up happening. At 4:30, Kathleen announced that the power point still wasn't working and they weren't sure what was wrong with it, but that da Grazia couldn't give her talk without it, so she invited us all to have a glass of wine until the technical difficulties were overcome. This just struck me as so typical of the History Department -- we can't figure out that newfangled technology, so let's just drink instead. As a nondrinker, I was immediately out the door, so I don't know whether or not the talk actually happened. Perhaps the wine loosened up da Grazia enough so that she was able to give her talk without the power point. And what is up with a historian even using power point anyway? I have certainly never used it, nor have any of my professors. Chalk was even too high-tech for my college professors. The professor I teach with here is at least on overhead transparencies, which is still way beyond me!

Posted by eklanche at September 15, 2006 10:48 AM


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