Paper $32.50 ISBN: 9780226451954 Will Publish November 2018
Cloth $110.00 ISBN: 9780226451817 Will Publish November 2018
E-book $32.50 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226452005 Will Publish November 2018

Friending the Past

The Sense of History in the Digital Age

Alan Liu

Friending the Past

Alan Liu

336 pages | 49 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2018 
Paper $32.50 ISBN: 9780226451954 Will Publish November 2018
Cloth $110.00 ISBN: 9780226451817 Will Publish November 2018
E-book $32.50 ISBN: 9780226452005 Will Publish November 2018
Can today’s society, increasingly captivated by a constant flow of information, share a sense of history? How did our media-making forebears balance the tension between the present and the absent, the individual and the collective, the static and the dynamic—and how do our current digital networks disrupt these same balances? Can our social media, with its fleeting nature, even be considered social at all?   
          In Friending the Past, Alan Liu proposes fresh answers to these innovative questions of connection. He explores how we can learn from the relationship between past societies whose media forms fostered a communal and self-aware sense of history—such as prehistorical oral societies with robust storytelling cultures, or the great print works of nineteenth-century historicism—and our own instantaneous present. He concludes with a surprising look at how the sense of history exemplified in today’s JavaScript timelines compares to the temporality found in Romantic poetry.
          Interlaced among these inquiries, Liu shows how extensive “network archaeologies” can be constructed as novel ways of thinking about our affiliations with time and with each other. These conceptual architectures of period and age are also always media structures, scaffolded with the outlines of what we mean by history. Thinking about our own time, Liu wonders if the digital, networked future can sustain a similar sense of history.
Review Quotes
Lisa Gitelman, New York University
Friending the Past is argued with Alan Liu’s characteristic power, and exhibits the high level of creative abstraction that I think of as the signature asset of Romanticists, including Liu. This book is thoughtfully engaged with a breadth of research and is a brilliant observation of our digital milieu, its overarching logics, and underlying conditions.”
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