Posts tagged JAOCH
In the last several years, the discipline known as the “Digital Humanities” has come to the fore. Digital Humanities is basically the intersection of the humanities and digital technology, for all the breadth that can mean, but often involves meta-data (data about data, if you will). One of the sub-disciplines in the digital humanities field is digital history.
Digital history has generally meant using digital tools to help analyze historical source materials, though this can be done in different ways, from digital archives and interactive maps to text mining (assessing a text for patterns, perhaps of place-names or certain verbal structures). By virtue of this blog and our associated Journal of American Orthodox Church History, SOCHA is certainly involved in digital history. Furthermore, we intend to establish an online digital archive that will be searchable. It will take time for this to occur, of course, but it is our full intention to work toward that.
That said, there are some areas of caution that one ought to have when thinking about digital history. This recent blog post by Stanley Fish gets at one way in which text mining can be problematic:
Essentially, Mr. Fish notes the problem of omitting contextual considerations. It is too tempting for people in the digital humanities to perform their search, find some pattern of something or other and then make a bold claim.
I think he’s spot on, and even more so when applied to digital history. It is a temptation in history generally. It is difficult sometimes for historians not to confuse trivia with history. Already, historians, especially new (young) historians, find a unique little snippet only to be faced with the challenge of confronting that initial excitement with the prospects of context. That is, what is the ultimate significance of that snippet? What does it tell us about American Orthodox Church history, for instance, or religion in American more generally in the nineteenth century, etc.? That is, the contextual questions are there to keep the historian honest and avoid a myopic vision. Text mining, though, as noted by Mr. Fish, is already beginning to make the temptation of mistaking trivia for history all too real. The larger contextual and theoretical questions are sometimes pushed aside all too easily.
So, are we at SOCHA part of the problem? I don’t think so. I realize any singular blog post, taken on its own, could certainly seem to be analogous to the context-less argument from text mining, but I think if one realizes that the blog entry ought to be seen within the context of the blog as a whole, and really in the context of SOCHA’s work as a whole, all is well. Matthew Namee and I have both written on early jurisdictional issues. We also have JAOCH, which often deals with larger American-Orthodox historical concerns. It is true that JAOCH is “narrow” in that it is concentrated on certain ecclesiastical histories, but it still requires the articles to be grounded in the larger histories of those various churches. Also, when we do finally, some year down the road, unveil our digital, searchable archive, the intention will be to further the use of source material and not simply to encourage “pattern finding.” There is much that digital history has to offer, but in keeping with the concerns raised by Mr. Fish, it is our hope and belief that SOCHA will be part of a creative but historically honest and grounded use of digital technology.
It has come to my attention that people have been confused by our past calls for membership all the while there is nothing concrete by way of that membership. One person asked me what it even meant to acknowledge that he/she would like to be considered a member. This is a fair response and so I thought I would speak to this concern.
First and foremost, please accept our apologies here at SOCHA. It has taken us longer to develop some aspects of SOCHA than we had initially anticipated. In large part, this is because we have limited funds and also time constraints as well. Our requests for “membership” in the past have been to help us get a sense of how many people would actually be willing to become due paying members in time. This information has been helpful to us in our strategic planning.
Secondly, here are some things that we anticipate for the future. We intend to have SOCHA legally incorporated. This necessary step will enable us to collect funds. Once that is done, we will determine what sort of benefit to members could come from our partner journal, the Journal of American Orthodox Church History (JAOCH), published by Prairie Parish Press (http://prairieparishpress.com). Future members will either receive a discount on the journal or receive it as part of their membership in SOCHA. We will also explore the possibility of providing SOCHA members with a discounted registration for our symposia.
Another future project will be an online database of searchable primary sources. That will take quite some time to develop, and we are still debating whether this will be free or available to members only via a password, but we hope that some year down the road, this will come to fruition. Regardless of how we structure this, monies from future membership will help fund this.
In the very long run, we also hope that membership monies will help fund research grants (modest in size). Obviously, all of this takes time to develop and we ask for your patience. It is our hope and prayer that SOCHA will continue to be a beneficial presence to anyone interested in Orthodox Christian history and thought and we assure you that we are doing the best we can.
Yours in Christ,
Earlier today, we posted a press release announcing the publication of the first issue of SOCHA’s peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of American Orthodox Church History (JAOCH). This has been in the works for a long time, and I’m really excited that it’s here. The table of contents is available here, but I thought I’d briefly discuss some of what you’ll learn if you buy the journal.
- Back in 2009, I gave a paper called “The Myth of Past Unity” at a St. Vladimir’s Seminary conference. It’s gotten a fair amount of attention, and some people took issue with my conclusion — that there was not a single, unified American Orthodox Church prior to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution (or, if you prefer the 1921 incorporation of the Greek Archdiocese). Anyway, over the past couple of years I’ve been asked many times if (or when) that paper would be published. It’s here in JAOCH, beginning on page 2.
- The second main article in the journal is by Fr. Oliver Herbel and discusses the work of Fr. Boris Burden, one of the most influential convert clergymen in American Orthodox history. Burden, and his longtime (and better-known) associate Fr. Michael Gelsinger, were behind multiple attempts to bring together the various American Orthodox jurisdictions. As far as I know, this is the first substantial scholarly treatment of Burden’s efforts.
- Fr. John Erickson is the foremost historian of American Orthodoxy, and we are very fortunate to have a major contribution from him in the first issue of JAOCH. His paper, “Slavophile Thought and Conceptions of Mission in the Russian North American Archdiocese, Late 19th-Early 20th Century,” provides an essential framework for understanding the sometimes-mythical Russian Mission in North America. This is the era of Tikhon and Platon, Hapgood and Hawaweeny, and Fr. John’s paper helps us better understand the ideas that shaped that period.
- Next, the journal features a 1967 article by ROCOR author Fr. Constantine Zaitsev, translated into English by Evgueni Kadossov. This is a remarkable text. It proposes the idea of America as a sort of “Fourth Rome.” You have to read the article, and Dr. Kadossov’s introduction, to really grasp the concept, but it’s a fascinating argument, and a wonderful contribution to JAOCH.
- Finally, the journal features two book reviews, one by Fr. Oliver and the other by Amy Slagle. Fr. Oliver reviewed Fr. John McGuckin’s ambitious Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and Dr. Slagle wrote about a biography of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, an important French Orthodox theologian who died in 2005. She taught at the famed St. Sergius Institute in Paris, which had such an influence on American Orthodoxy (by way of figures like Schmemann and Meyendorff).
The journal runs 98 pages and costs $10. There’s some really groundbreaking material in there, and I hope all the readers of OrthodoxHistory.org will get a copy. (Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a link to purchase the journal.)
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
August 16, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Journal of American Orthodox Church History
The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA) is pleased to announce a new, affiliated academic publication, the Journal of American Orthodox Church History (JAOCH). JAOCH is peer reviewed by established scholars within the field and published electronically. JAOCH is published annually and consists of articles, book reviews, and translations of historically significant texts.
—Future articles will be developed from the upcoming history symposium at Princeton Theological Seminary.
—Submissions are also encouraged.
The journal is available through Prairie Parish Press and the cost is $10 per issue. More information, including the table of contents and an introduction to the first issue, may be found on the website of Prairie Parish Press. You can also find PPP on Facebook.