Citation Networks and Disciplinary Histories

Friday, October 9, 12:00-1:30 pm
Williams Building 415

Commodities of Privilege: Citation Networks and Disciplinary Histories

Actor-network theorists from Bruno Latour to A.N. Leont’ev have argued for human networks as self-reflexive and emergent (following Marx), dialectical (following Engels), and bound by cultural artifacts (following Engeström) — all variations on what is commonly described as a relationship of vertices to actors to agents to points.

The conceptual availability of something as abstract as a network invites digital humanists to consider its usefulness, not only as a science of interconnections, but also as a historical attitude. The citation network, in particular, invites attention and critique: it demonstrates that objects are not always the nodes through which a network is defined; it illuminates the relational challenges that occur along a network’s edges; and it raises the question of how network theorists do, can, or should measure the disciplinary influences of actors when their influence moves out of a network’s visible range. In short, the citation — as a commodity of privilege — invites us to consider how a discipline’s texts, objects, and activities define who has participated and how their participation gets measured and remembered.

For our third meeting of the semester, the Digital Scholars group will consider the utility of the “acquaintance chain” and the “long tail” for writing institutional and disciplinary histories, questioning citationality as the dominant approach to measuring relational impact in electronic or online environments. When transient actors or underrepresented activities fall outside the purview of bibliometrics, what other kinds of relationships can we expect them to help us draw? When human-text relations become more difficult to stabilize because of increasingly complex patterns of circulation, how else can we relate the people, places, and ideas that historically constitute our disciplines?

Participants are invited to read the following in advance:

  • Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail,Wired 12.10 (Oct. 2004)
  • Stanley Milgram, “The Small World ProblemPsychology Today 1.1 (May 1967): 61-67.
  • Judith Kleinfeld, “Could it Be a Big World After All?” [pre-press version of article published as “The Small World Problem,” Society 39.2 (Jan/Feb 2002): 61-66]
  • Collin Gifford Brooke, “Discipline and Publish: Reading and Writing the Scholarly Network.” Ecology, Writing Theory, and New Media. Ed. Sidney I. Dobrin. New York: Routledge, 2012. 92-105. [in Bb]
  • Clay Spinuzzi, “How Are Networks Theorized?” Chapter 3 in Network: Theorizing Knowledge in Telecommunications. New York: Cambridge, 2008. [in Bb]

and to browse the following resources:

For additional reading into digital networks, the following links may be helpful:

We hope you can join us,



2 thoughts on “Citation Networks and Disciplinary Histories

  1. Pingback: Illuminating Gaps in Network Theory | FSU Digital Scholars

  2. Pingback: Metadata and Mapping | FSU Digital Scholars

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