Posts tagged SOCHA
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,
Fr. Oliver Herbel, Executive Director of the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas, has a newly published work, Sarapion of Thmuis: Against the Manicheans and Pastoral Letters. The book is published by St. Paul’s Publications in conjunction with the Centre for Early Christian Studies in Australia. Here’s the official blurb:
Although St. Anthony the Great, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and the Desert Fathers have received considerable attention in early Christian studies, St. Sarapion of Thmuis has remained in relative obscurity. This book introduces the thought of this early Egyptian monastic bishop, highlighting the importance of both Sarapion’s biblical hermeneutics and his utilization of Stoic philosophy. It includes an argument for Sarapion’s authorship of the Letter to the Monks as well as translations of Sarapion’s three extant writings: Letter to Bishop Eudoxios, Letter to the Monks, and Against the Manichaeans.
To order a copy directly from the Centre, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page. The book will also be available through the incomparable Eighth Day Books of Wichita, Kansas, and SOCHA readers are encouraged to order a copy from that fine bookseller.
I haven’t put together a SOCHA newsletter in a while, and this one is kind of sparse, but I didn’t want to wait any longer. If you know of anything we should include in the next issue, or to offer any other feedback about the newsletter, please email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
WHAT’S NEW AT SOCHA?
- On September 30-October 1, SOCHA held its first symposium at Princeton Theological Seminary. Many thanks to Princeton’s Florovsky Society (and especially Seraphim Danckaert), which organized the event, and to all who participated. It was a major moment for SOCHA, and we can’t wait to do it again.
- Immediately after the symposium, SOCHA added a fourth director, Aram G. Sarkisian. For more on Aram, click here.
- Don’t forget to pick up a digital copy of the inaugural issue of our journal, the Journal of American Orthodox Church History. Copies are available for $10 from the Prairie Parish Press website. To learn more about the contents of the journal, click here.
- One of our authors here at OH.org, Nicholas Chapman, was recently featured in a fantastic interview with the journal Road to Emmaus. He discusses his latest discoveries about the origins of Orthodoxy in America. This is a must-read for anyone interested in American Orthodox history. We’ll be publishing an excerpt, along with ordering information, very soon.
- The ongoing research projects here at SOCHA include investigations into Fr. Raphael Morgan (the first black Orthodox priest in America) and the martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut. In recent articles, we’ve published new information on both of those stories. Click here to read the latest discovery involving Morgan, and click here to read a preliminary translation of the original martyrdom account of St. Peter.
IN THE NEWS:
- At long last, the Greek Archdiocese has succeded in getting permission from the government to rebuild St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, which was destroyed when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001
- The OCA’s All-American Council will take place in Seattle from October 31 to November 4, and they’ve planned two excursions to historic Seattle Orthodox churches on October 30. The first trip will go to Holy Trinity in Wilkeson, WA (one of the oldest Orthodox buildings in America, built in 1896). The second will visit St. Spiridon Cathedral (OCA, founded 1895) and St. Nicholas Cathedral (ROCOR, founded 1932). At St. Nicholas, visitors will visit the upstairs room where St. John Maximovitch died in 1966. Each excursion costs $50 per person. If any of our readers attend and take photos, we’d love to publish them here at OH.org. For details on these excursions, click here.
- Parish anniversaries: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Augusta, GA (100th anniversary). St. George Romanian Orthodox Church in Canton, OH (100th anniversary). Protection of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church (OCA) in Merrillville (formerly Gary), IN (100th anniversary). St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in East Chicago, IL (100th anniversary). Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church (OCA) in Meriden, CT (100th anniversary). St. Seraphim Orthodox Church (OCA) in Santa Rosa, CA (75th anniversary).
Matthew Namee, Editor