iSchool Welcomes Bullard Research Fellow James Hodges

James Hodges, Bullard Research Fellow

The School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin is pleased to welcome Dr. James Hodges, who joined us as a Bullard Research Fellow in August. Hodges comes to the iSchool from Rutgers University where he received his PhD in Information and Communication.

Hodges’ research focuses on the evidentiary value of born-digital primary sources, especially as related to software and electronic records produced by historical actors in the computer and software industries during the late 20th century. “I’m excited to join the school, particularly because UT’s iSchool has been really forward-thinking in the areas of digital archives and preservation as well as having a great reputation as a software preservation-oriented institution,” he said.

“I’m excited to join the school, particularly because UT’s iSchool has been really forward-thinking in the areas of digital archives and preservation," Hodges said.

Hodges was trained in the history of technology during his master’s studies at New York University, but his interest in investigating the material characteristics of digital historical artifacts eventually drew him to the field of digital archives and preservation. By using innovative methods informed by media archaeology and digital forensics, Hodges’ doctoral and postdoctoral research seeks to understand the relationship between digital records and the historical milieus from which they emerge. Hodges is excited to continue working in the area of forensic methods for historical research and bridging the practice of preservation with the inquiries of historical researchers.

During the fellowship, Hodges will work with the Professor Fred Mason Bullard archives at the Jackson School of Geosciences and the Briscoe Center for American History. “I’m interested to see how different kinds of information technology and learning modalities are represented in the life’s work of a scientific educator over several decades. I think it’s a really good window into the ways that technologies have changed throughout the late 20th century,” he said. “I’m also curious to look into the archives of some software and game developers who were working in Texas to see what philosophical and technical assumptions were built into their projects.”

Hodges will also work with Ciaran Trace, editor of Information & Culture, to develop ways of expanding the journal’s readership and the international scope of authors. “We want to support great research from scholars outside of North America and the English-speaking world, especially China and Latin America,” Hodges said. “We’re particularly interested in the ways that information technology histories in places like China and Latin America have not been sufficiently well understood in the Anglosphere information science world.”

Hodges believes that what sets iSchools apart from disciplines like computer science or the history of technology is the unique work that we do at the intersection between social and technical systems. “Information science is a discipline that’s all about helping people get the information sources that they need from a variety of disciplines, and I think the UT iSchool is especially good at it,” he said.

Aug. 31, 2020