Alan Liu, Romanticist and Professor of English Literature and Theory at the University of California Santa Barbara, is known for his contributions to scholarship in both traditional print media and in online forms. Since his early work, published in print form, Liu has ever been captivated by what he has subsequently come to call "the Romanticism of Detail," even though he has also ever been critical of this New Historicist desire to accumulate such bits of knowledge.(1) Fascination with detail has allowed him to perform the meticulous web work necessary for constructing and maintaining the sheer volume of link addresses for web sites important to humanists on his Voice of the Shuttle page. Ashton Nichols declares that Voice of the Shuttle is "an astonishing array of WWW humanities information . . . . Liu has drawn together countless Web sites and Internet resources that could be of use to humanities students and scholars. The result is a rich hypertext resource that provides comprehensive access to the current state of humanities research, teaching, and scholarship."(2)
Alan Liu's critique of his own desire to accumulate bits of knowledge has led him to question knowledge work as a whole, to wonder how training students and professors to desire information impels global capitalism and affects the construction of its main medium, the Internet. His new book will examine information culture (3). Liu questions in his book and in two major web sites how the development of the discipline of English literature is connected to the transformation of work under global capitalism (Palinurus) and how literary history might feed into and be recast by new Internet technologies (Transcriptions).
|Voice of the Shuttle||A site offering comprehensive resources for humanities scholars and students. Impressive in both its breadth and depth, the site covers all major disciplines of the humanities, including links to primary texts, critical resources, and other web sites useful to study in the humanities. See an excerpt from a 1998 article by Alan Liu about Voice of the Shuttle.|
|Palinurus||A project created to stimulate critical discussion about the complex relationships between the academy and corporations, as well as the changing nature of work in the face of the new information culture. The site includes resources on the implications of postindustrial "knowledge work" and provides information on the growing interdependence between the university and modern, computerized corporations.|
|Romantic Chronology||A searchable database chronicling the major literary, artistic, political, and social events of the Romantic Era. The site includes over 2000 chronological entries to give context to cultural and political movements, as well as hundreds of links to off-site texts and resources. While the project focuses on the Romantic Era, a variety of entries provide additional context as to the historical and cultural antecedents and resulting implications of changes occurring during the period.|
|Transcriptions||A three-year project undertaken by UCSB English Faculty and funded by an NEH Teaching with Technology grant. The Web Site built by those involved in the project is subtitled "Literary History and the Culture of Information." The site provides a series of web pages designed to tease out connections between literary artifacts and material technology, in the past (the relation between literature and the book) for the sake of understanding the present (the relation between literature and new media). The main question, Liu writes, is, "[What] is the relation of literature to the information age. . . . [W]hat is the relation between being "well-read" and "well-informed"?"|
Other Selected Web Sites by Alan Liu
(1) See the last chapter of Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1989), and "Local Transcendence: Cultural Criticism, Postmodernism, and the Romanticism of Detail," Representations 32 (Fall 1990): 75-113. (Back)
(2) Ashton Nichols, "Electronic Resources for Nineteenth Century Studies: A Provisional Appraisal," Nineteenth-Century Studies 11 (1997). 11/9/99. http://www.fandm.edu/Departments/English/Ohara/nicholsrev.html (Back)
(3) The Laws of Cool:
The Cultural Life of Information (forthcoming, U of
Chicago P, 2004).
Romantic Circles / Features / Liu