The Open Book: Digital Form in the Making


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Sociocultural Anthropology


This dissertation investigates mass book digitization as an arena of cultural experimentation in the United States. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and other forms of research, it closely examines the work of technologists—engineers, digital librarians, lawyers, and activists—as they pursue the “transition” from print to digital. With particular attention to the public controversy around mass digitization from 2004 to 2010, the dissertation reveals how the book—a dense and hoary cultural form—has become a site of critical inquiry into and around the sharing and circulation of public knowledge. Rather than a technological advance that fulfills some evolutionary development, mass digitization is shown to be a contingent field of thought and action.