Michael J. Kramer
20th-Century U.S. Cultural and Intellectual History, American Studies, Digital History, Digital Humanities, Civic Engagement
Office: Harris Hall #212
Michael J. Kramer (Ph.D. University of North Carolina, 2006) teaches history, American studies, civic engagement, and digital humanities at Northwestern. He is the author of The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture (Oxford University Press, 2013), which examines how rock music generated engagements with public life in two crucial locales: the San Francisco Bay Area, where rock served as the cutting edge of a new kind of “hip capitalism,” and Vietnam, where a surprisingly parallel system of “hip militarism” intensified the stakes of civic belonging for America’s “citizen-soldiers” as well as for non-American participants in the Vietnam War. His new work is a multimodal project tentatively titled “This Machine Kills Fascists: Technology and Culture in the US Folk Music Revival.” Touching on figures such as Alan Lomax, Harry Smith, and Woody Guthrie, who famously wrote “This machine kills fascists” on his acoustic guitar during World War II, the research concentrates especially on the understudied history of the folk music revival on the West Coast of the United States. It also uses the archive of the Berkeley Folk Music Festival (1958-1970) to investigate new possibilities for the study of vernacular music and culture online, with a particular interest in the development of “sonification studies,” or the use of digital technologies to “raise the volume” on the aural dimensions of the ephemeral past, cultural heritage, and other topics (for more information, see the Digital Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project). Dr. Kramer is also in the early stages of a history of contemporary dance in Chicago. He blogs about arts and culture at Culture Rover and has started a collaborative inquiry, ARTiculations, that expands from the blog to explore how digital technologies might bring enhanced modes of cultural criticism and scholarship into the traditional performing arts print program. He also blogs about the digital humanities at Issues in Digital History and co-directs the Northwestern University Digital Humanities Laboratory.