Rebecca Roach on Media Lives and the Archive

Rockefeller image

Please join us at the next Media History seminar for Rebecca Roach’s talk ‘Media Lives in the Rockefeller Archive: or, How the Humanities Invented Modern Computing’. We’ll be meeting on Wednesday March 18 at 6pm. The meeting will be held at Birkbeck (43 Gordon Square WC1H 0PD). Everyone’s welcome!

‘Media Lives in the Rockefeller Archive: or, How the Humanities Invented Modern Computing’

In these days of dwindling funding for the arts and humanities, I look back to the start of the digital age to argue for the significance of their contribution to the invention of modern computing. I examine the role of mid-century institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation and specifically its Humanities Division, in supporting early research into theories of communication—theories which would prove vital to the post-World War Two development of computational technologies. Looking to the institutional, biographical and media lives that my research has revealed, I argue for the value of humanities-based models of technological innovation.

Rebecca Roach is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham. Her first book, Literature and the Rise of the Interview, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. She is currently working on a second book examining the intersection between literature and computing since the Second World War. You can find out more about her here:

This seminar is generously supported by the Media History journal, Queen Mary University of London’s English Department, the Institute of English Studies, and the Institute of Historical Research.


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