Visiting Speaker: Robert Allen on Digital Loray

Sponsored by the Summersell Center and the Libraries

Digital LorayRobert Allen’s talk is a report on “Digital Loray,” a digital public humanities “project in process” being undertaken by the UNC Digital Innovation Lab.  “Digital Loray” is a multi-media digital collection of materials reflecting the history of one of the largest and most iconic textile mills in the South, the Loray Mill in Gastonia, N.C., the tens of thousands of people who worked in the mill over its 90-year history as an operating textile manufacturing facility, and the community of which the mill has been and continues to be a part.  The long and rich history of the mill includes the Loray Mill Strike in 1929.  The 600,000 square foot site is being restored and repurposed as apartments and retail and commercial space.  “Digital Loray” is designed as an online historical and community resource, and as source material for on-site programming and activities.

Robert C. Allen is the James Logan Godfrey Professor of American Studies and Director of the UNC Digital Innovation Lab.  He has taught at UNC since 1979.  His research has focused on the history of American popular entertainment and popular culture. He has written on the history of U.S. radio and television, film history and historiography, and American popular theater of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Humanities Center.

In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, he is the author of Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture (1991), which received the 1992 George Freedley Memorial Award from the American Theatre Library Association, and Speaking of Soap Operas (1985); and co-author of Film History: Theory and Practice (1985).  He is the editor of Channels of Discourse: Television and Contemporary Criticism (1987) Channels of Discourse, Reassembled (1992), and To Be Continued: Soap Operas Around the World (1995); and co-editor of The Television Studies Reader (2004) and Going to the Movies: Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema (2008).

Since 2006 he has concentrated on the application of digital technologies to American Studies scholarship, curriculum, and community outreach.  He was scholarly advisor for “Going to the Show” (2009), which received the Rosenzweig Award for innovation in digital history from the American Historical Association, and for “Standing on a Box” (2009), which received the first Harlan Gradin Award for Excellence in Public Humanities from the N.C. Humanities Council.

From 2012 to 2014 he was co-principal investigator for the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  In this role, he led the implementation of an integrated strategy for stimulating digital humanities at the university,  including new faculty hires in digital humanities, professional development in DH for humanities faculty, a graduate certificate program and graduate fellowship program in DH, and a postdoctoral fellows program in DH  The Digital Innovation Lab, which he directs, develops public-facing digital humanities projects in collaboration with other UNC units and cultural heritage organizations and develops tools and platforms for lowering barriers to entry in DH.

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