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2018-2019 Seminar: Classification

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Seminar Leaders: Andrew Goldstone & Meredith McGill

From early modern commonplace books to tweets with hashtags, from the ritual markers of aristocratic degree to state statistics on race and ethnicity, from the divisions of trivium and quadrivium to the modern system of academic disciplines, practices of classification are where the organization of knowledge meets the organization of society. Long central to humanistic and social-scientific study, questions of classification have become newly salient as the digital remediation of the print record and the digital media of the present generate enormous quantities of information, most of it already organized in value-laden categories, for scholars to sort out.

The CCA invites applications for fellows affiliated with the 2018–19 Classification seminar. We welcome proposals that investigate classification in intellectual, cultural, and social life from scholars in any field of the humanities and social sciences. Possible areas of inquiry include but are not limited to: cultural taste and social stratification; genre and genre systems; the meaning of media formats; the art/non-art opposition; libraries, universities, and other institutional organizers of culture; "folk" and "expert" taxonomies; the collection of data and control of populations by the state; classification struggle and the problem of the exception.

The seminar, led by Meredith McGill and Andrew Goldstone, will meet approximately once every two weeks for three hours on Wednesday afternoons over the course of the 2018-19 academic year.  We will read and discuss scholarship related to classification, and members will circulate and present work-in-progress.  In addition, distinguished guests will visit the seminar to discuss current projects and share insights and expertise.

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