Welcome to the website for the University of Pennsylvania's Workshop in the History of Material Texts! Here you can find announcements about upcoming events as well as a searchable database of seminars we have held since the fall of 1996. (Information about speakers and talks from the initial years of the Workshop has unfortunately been lost. If you have such information, please contact us.)
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we're going virtual for fall 2020. Our schedule is now posted on our Events page. We are also posting recordings of our talks online through our YouTube channel. Check back weekly for new videos.
Our next workshop of the fall semester will be on October 26th. It will feature feature Jessa Lingel (Penn) speaking on "'It's kind of fun because it's more stark': Web 1.0 nostalgia and craigslist's material form."
craigslist started out in 1995 as an e-mail list and grew into a website the following year. Almost as soon as internet access was widely available, craigslist was there, ready to help people search and find, buy and sell. For more than two decades, the platform has weathered the internet’s boom-and-bust cycle, while countless peers and competitors have come and gone. This longevity gives craigslist an important vantage point for thinking about how the business models and user policies of online companies have changed since the 1990s. But craigslist isn’t just old, it’s also incredibly stable in its aesthetics — the site looks more or less the same today as it did in the late 1990s. In this talk, I analyze craigslist's material form as a way of thinking through changing design values of the internet. craigslist’s refusal to update its appearance has become one of its distinguishing features, and a key reason that I have labeled craigslist as a holdout in a gentrifying internet.
Jessa Lingel is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and core faculty in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD in communication and information from Rutgers University. She has an MLIS from Pratt Institute and an MA in gender studies from New York University. Her research interests include digital inequalities and technological distributions of power. Her activist work is centered around libraries and information, support for incarcerated folks, and addressing gaps in access to mental health care in Philadelphia.