Surfacing the Page

Big Ideas, The National Archives, Kew


Wednesday 22nd November 1.00-2.00pm: Maryanne Dever, Kate Sweetapple,  Jacquie Lorber Kasunic, University of Technology Sydney.

This session contains three short integrated presentations that take up the theme of ‘surfacing the page’. You can listen to the talks here.

We talk of ‘surfacing’ here in not a literal sense of the flat surfaces of a page, but in the sense in which this terminology is currently used by those interested in rethinking the nature of the empirical, something which necessarily lies at the heart of all inquiry or research. This issue takes on particular relevance at a point when digital technologies and the resulting expansion of cultural data have changed forever what we might think of as our tools and methods for producing new knowledge in archival fields. In this sense, ‘surfacing the page’ refers to the page as a productively redefined space of inquiry.

We locate these discussions in relation to our current work on a prototype critical digitization project looking at the draft manuscript page. We are working with a set of manuscripts for an autobiographical memoir, Don’t Take Your Love to Town (1988), by Ruby Langford Ginibi, an Australian Indigenous writer, that are held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. In our presentations we pose questions about graphic materiality and the role of the visual as integral to relationship between the archived page and its interpretation. We then consider what speculative artefacts produced by visually manipulating images of existing archival documents can reveal about the affordances of the page in digital environments.