2005 Faculty Grant for Digital Library Collections
Professor Wolf Kittler (German Studies, Cornell) and KMODDL principle Professor Francis Moon (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell) are the recipients of a Faculty Grant for Digital Library Collections administered by Cornell University Library. The award will enable digitization of between 5,000 and 7,500 pages of print materials on the history of machines, primarily books held by Cornell Library’s rare History of Science collection, and the integration of the digitized materials into KMODDL. The competitive grants are awarded to Cornell faculty for the purpose of “increas[ing] the amount and scope of scholarly information available online in the areas of the humanities and social sciences. The goal of the grants program is to support collaborative and creative use of resources through the creation of digital content of enduring value to the Cornell community and scholarship at large.”
The digitization project stems from discussions between Kittler, a literary scholar whose work foregrounds technology and media, and the library-faculty KMODDL team. The 50 books digitized as part of KMODDL’s original NSF/NSDL grant were selected by engineers and mathematicians with colleagues in those fields as the principle intended readership. That these materials have found resonance among scholars in the humanities has been a welcome surprise and provides an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration. The books digitized on the Faculty Grant project will be of great interest to KMODDL’s original constituency in engineering and mathematics, as well as to historians of science. But this new selection of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century texts on machines and the science of movement, was assembled with the specific intent of providing a material grounding for scholars in literary, visual, media, and cultural studies concerned with machines and technology networks. Early texts in mechanics and biomechanics have played a key role in recent film and visual studies scholarship, as well as work on the body and human labor, and numerous other approaches and fields of inquiry in the humanities. Expanding KMODDL’s online offerings on the history and theory of machines will improve access to texts that can facilitate this work. Collaboration between engineers and humanists in the context of the Faculty Grant program will promote cross-fertilization of scholarship that the project team hopes will radiate widely.