Thursday, September 01, 2005

Naropa University - Audio Archive Project

Naropa University - Audio Archive Project

The Naropa University Archive Project enters 2005 with over one thousand hours of recordings digitized. Access to three hundred hours of the collection is available online via the Internet Archive at The archive project's partnership with the Internet Archive marks a significant step toward realizing its mission of enhancing appreciation of post-World War Two literature and its role in cultural criticism and social change.

Among the recordings recently released online are historic lectures and performances addressing peace activism, gender issues, environmentalism, spirituality and freedom of speech. You'll hear Samuel Charters lecturing on Jack Kerouac and jazz, Peter Lamborn Wilson discussing the Temporary Autonomous Zone, Bernadette Mayer teaching experimental writing techniques and Allen Ginsberg and Art Lande performing the anti-war poem "Hum Bomb."

Since its founding in 1974 by poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, which includes the Department of Writing and Poetics and the Summer Writing Program, has recorded approximately six thousand hours of audio tapes documenting performances, seminars and discussions conducted at Naropa by many of the leading figures of the U.S. literary avant-garde. The collection represents several generations of artists who have contributed to aesthetic and cultural change in the postmodern era.

With continuing support from the NEA, NEH, Save America's Treasures and the GRAMMY Foundation, the Naropa University Archive Project is preserving, cataloging and providing library and Internet access to this collection. The archive project has recently released its first commercial CD, "First Thought, Best Thought," and has developed audio support for university literature courses. It is developing a national radio documentary series on literature, the arts and social change and is also supporting other audio archives by providing training. I presented the project to the Society of American Archivists in Boston last year, and archive staff is presenting at the Association of Recorded Sound Collections in Austin, Texas, as well as at the Western Region Archives conference in Las Vegas. This summer audio technicians from the Naropa University Archive Project will travel to Dharamsala, India, to assist the Tibetan Library and Archive in digitizing unique recordings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Naropa University Archive Project is asking for your assistance in 2005 in the ongoing preservation and access work of the audio archive. It needs matching funds from private donors to continue making this living literature available to the public.

Since the founding of the collection in the early 1970s, many issues addressed by contributing artists and scholars have come increasingly to the fore in the larger public arena. For thirty years artists, scientists and spiritual leaders have been addressing issues in environmental preservation, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism and the rights of indigenous people. In such times as these, it is a great pleasure to make this collection available to scholars and lovers of literature and people of conscience worldwide. Thanks for visiting with us.

Steven Taylor
Director, Naropa University Archive Project
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