We Are What We Remember: Memory, Identity, and Forgetting
Abstract: Historian Abby Smith Rumsey will explore how memory shapes both personal and collective identity. Together biological and cultural memory create a sense of self that is stable yet always in flux. We exploit information technologies to elide the inevitable loss of human memory, in the process favoring some types of evidence over others. Digital memory appears to offer us a way around such limits. Image, sound, text, and data—all can be represented by digital code. Rumsey will discuss the responsibilities of the humanities to appraise the nature of digital code as a trustworthy medium to secure the integrity, authenticity, and accessibility of the memories that shape our collective identities.
Bio: Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. She has written and lectured widely on digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, intellectual property policies in the digital age, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history and time. She served as director of the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia, and has advised universities and their research libraries on strategies to integrate digital information resources into existing collections and services. Rumsey has a doctorate in Russian History from Harvard; she published When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping Our Future (Bloomsbury Press) in 2016.