We are thrilled to announce the release of our newest
Taylor Arnold, Courtney Rivard and Lauren Tilton’s Layered Lives:Rhetoric and Representation in the Southern Life Histories Project.
The Southern Life History Project, a Federal Writers’
Project initiative, put unemployed writers to work during the Great Depression
by capturing the stories of everyday people across the Southeast through a new
form of social documentation called “life histories.”
Layered Lives recovers the history of the Southern Life History Project (SLHP) through an interdisciplinary approach that combines close readings of archival material with computational methods that analyze the collection at scale. The authors grapple with the challenges of what counts as social knowledge, how to accurately represent social conditions, who could produce such knowledge, and who is and is not represented. Embedded within such debates are also struggles over what counts as data, evidence, and ways of knowing. As we look to our current moment, where debates about the opportunities and limits of quantification and the nature of data continue, the problems and promises that shaped the SLHP still shape how we capture and share stories today.
Friederike Sundaram is Senior Editor for Digital Projects at Stanford University Press. She is responsible for building the program by acquiring and commissioning projects across the humanities and social sciences.