How Burroughs and Digitization Expand Our Understanding of Texts and Archives

FSU Digital Scholars

Dr. Gontarski’s talk on Tuesday, October 20, concerned the current project of digitizing the William S. Burroughs archive held at Florida State University, which included the history of how FSU eventually obtained manuscripts that were largely unknown to scholars and the larger public. Because I have been involved with the archive since January, much of the information Dr. Gontarski gave was familiar to me; however, I was very interested in many of the ideas and questions that came up during his talk and in the discussion afterwards.

One of the issues raised was, “what is an archive?” We often think of digitization as a process of copying, of creating an image—a stand-in—for something that exists in the “real world” of materiality. People have online avatars that are meant to pictorially stand in for or represent them in some capacity; we scan and upload pictures and make digital copies of documents…

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