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Friending the PastThe Sense of History in the Digital Age$
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Alan Liu

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226451817

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226452005.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Friending the Past

Friending the Past

(p.9) 1 Friending the Past
Friending the Past

Alan Liu

University of Chicago Press

This chapter studies the change from prior senses of history to today's “real time” sense of history—or instant sense of community—of social networks. How was the equivalent of a sense of history experienced, and mediated, in prehistorical oral cultures? How did print culture at the height of the history of the book, which coincided with narrative historicism in the mode of Leopold von Ranke (Historismus), alter the sense of history? And how do "Web 2.0" and social networking today yet again change the sense of history? Can today's society "friend" past ones to imagine, and absorb, prior senses of history as a layered, enrichening texture of the present? What continuities—for example, of internet transmissions following the routes once forced by imperial roads across conquered lands—lock the digital present to its historical past? But, also, what discontinuities allow past historicism and today's information empire to challenge each other's assumptions, thus enabling a more humane texture of the present mindful of the past?

Keywords:   historicism, Historismus, history of the book, Leopold von Ranke, media determinism, narrative, oral culture, print culture, social networking, Web 2.0

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