[SIGCIS-Members] Hybrid event @Siegen July 4+5: Rethinking and Rebuilding: Grand Narratives in the History of Computing

thomas.haigh at gmail.com thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Sun Jun 19 14:59:02 PDT 2022



Anyone not already committed to spending July 4 & 5 in a patriotic fervor to
celebrate the revolt of the colonies might instead be interested in a little
event we have planned in Siegen. It’s inspired by the publication last year
of A New History of Modern Computing but the format is primarily roundtable
discussions exploring other possible ways of structuring and framing big
picture narratives around the history of computing. Honestly, nothing makes
you more aware of the arbitrariness of such a book than writing one. We’ve
got a very interesting and interdisciplinary lineup assembled for your


Everything is in the afternoon German time, giving North Americans a shot at
attending at least some of the panels (depending on time zone and waking
habits). Free registration for both online and in person. A little more than
half of the panelists are expected to be in person, but realistically most
of the other attendees will be online. But if any of you are nearby and want
to call into Siegen I would be happy to see you! We always offer lots of
food and drink, and given the late running time I will be mixing up some
cocktails prior to the final sessions on both days.


The program is at https://www.socialstudiesof.info/grandnarratives/ While I
am pasting the current text below, this will continue to change (dinners
added, possible tweaks to timing and panel titles, couple people we invited
who haven’t confirmed yet). So do not trust the version pasted below for
anything other than a general sense of whether you are going to bother to
register and mark your calendar.


Best wishes,




NB: All times below are European. Subtract 1 hour for UK, 6 for E. Coast, 9
for W. Coast and so on.


Rethinking and Rebuilding: Grand Narratives in the History of Computing
July 4 & 5, 2022 at Siegen University and online

Most current program:  <https://www.socialstudiesof.info/grandnarratives/>

Organizer: Thomas Haigh (University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee & Siegen
University). This event is part of project A01 of the
<https://www.mediacoop.uni-siegen.de/en/> SFB 1187: Media of Cooperation.

Theme: This event is prompted by the publication of A New History of Modern
Computing by Thomas Haigh and Paul Ceruzzi (MIT Press, 2021), a book that
was planned and largely written under the auspices of Siegen University. As
the most ambitious scholarly overview history of computing published this
century, this book updates the grand narrative of computing history by
drawing on new generations of scholarship. Topics such as digital media
devices, videogames, home computing, computer networking, smartphones, cloud
computing, and the evolution of the IBM PC standard are integrated into the
overall story for the first time. Yet our purpose here is less to celebrate
the new book as to ask what it, and its silences, tell us about the
potential to tell other stories on a similar scale about computers and their
history. The workshop gathers scholars from fields such as media studies,
the history of science and mathematics, and science and technology studies
to ask what a grand narrative of the history of computing might look like if
told from other perspectives. What do Haigh and Ceruzzi get right, and what
opportunities did they neglect? What topics and chapters would appear if the
story was told in a different way? What would be the protagonists and the

Venue: Room 217/18 of Herrengarten 3, 57072 Siegen and online. This is a
hybrid event. Speakers are roughly evenly divided between those in Siegen
and those participating by Zoom. To allow for participation from North
America each day's sessions start in the afternoon.

Registration: There is no charge for registration. To register, for
in-person or online participation, please email Anna Büdenbender at
<mailto:anna.buedenbender at student.uni-siegen.de>
anna.buedenbender at student.uni-siegen.de. 

July 4

(13:00                    Coffee & snacks)

13:30-13:45         Introduction by Erhard Schüttpelz (Siegen University)
13:45-14:00         Remarks by Paul Ceruzzi
14:00-15:30         Could we structure a big story around the materialities
of data, computation and networks? Roundtable discussion featuring Cyrus
Mody (Maastricht University), Moritz Feichtinger (Universität Bern), Axel
Volmar (Siegen University) & Valérie Schafer (C2DH, University of

(15:30-16:00)      Coffee & snack break.

16:00-17:30         What if we don’t center the United States? Roundtable
discussion featuring Ksenia Tatarchenko (Singapore Management University).
Pierre Mounier -Kuhn (CNRS & Université Paris-Sorbonne), Petri Paju
(University of Turku), Elisabetta Mori (Middlesex University) & Gerard
Alberts (University of Amsterdam).

(17:30-18:00       Cocktail break, featuring cassis gin & tonic and Pimms &
ginger ale)

18:00-19:30         Chances Seized and Opportunities Squandered: Writing A
New History of Modern Computing, Thomas Haigh (University of
Wisconsin—Milwaukee & Siegen University).

20:00                      Dinner. Details TBA

July 5     

12:00-13:30         What can we gain by reconnecting the history of
computing with the histories of computer science and mathematics? Roundtable
discussion featuring Ulf Hashagen (Deutsches Museum), Helena Durnova
(Masaryk University, Brno), Mark Priestley (National Museum of Computing,
UK) & Liesbeth de Mol (Université de Lille).

(13:30-14:00       Coffee & snack break)

14:00-15:30         How could media theory and STS underpin new historical
ways of understanding the story of the computer? Roundtable discussion,
convened by Sebastian Giessmann and Tatjana Seitz . Featuring Ben Peters
(Tulsa University), Till Heilmann (Bochum), Elisa Linseisen
(Vienna/Paderborn), Sebastian Giessmann (University of Siegen) & Tatjana
Seitz (University of Siegen, moderator)

(15:30-16:00       Coffee & snack break)

16:00 -17:30       Can we integrate issues of gender, justice and embodiment
into the story of the computer itself or must these narratives remain
separate and particular? Roundtable discussion featuring Elizabeth Petrick
(Rice University), Valérie Schafer (C2DH, University of Luxembourg), Jeffrey
Yost (Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota).

(17:30-18:00       Cocktail break featuring Tom’s famous negroni)

18:00-19:30         Where did the dominant scholarly narratives in the
history of computing come from, and how well have they held up? Roundtable
discussion with William Aspray & Martin Campbell-Kelly (authors of Computer:
A History of the Information Machine) and Paul Ceruzzi (author of A History
of Modern Computing) moderated by JoAnne Yates (author of Structuring the
Information Age).

20:00                      Dinner. Details TBA


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