Conceive of memory not only as ‘rote,’ the ability to reproduce something (whether a text, a formula, a list of items, an incident) but as the matrix of a reminiscing cogitation, shuffling and collating ‘things’ stored in a random-access memory scheme, or set of schemes – a memory architecture and a library built up during one’s lifetime with the express intention that it be used inventively. Medieval memoria was a universal thinking machine, machina memorialis — both the mill that ground the grain of one’s experiences (including all that one read) into a mental flour with which one could make wholesome bread, and also the hoist or windlass that every wise master-builder learned to make and use in constructing new matters – Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought (4).
Machina Memorialis began as a commonplace blog for my dissertation research as well as an investigation into blogs as a space for digital composition and communication. I believe that when possible a scholar needs to be a practitioner of their subject as well as a researcher of it, and as an ongoing blog Machina Memorialis allows me to explore aspects of the rhetoric and poetics of memory and computers and writing, which are two of my research and teaching interests.
I’m John Walter, a Fellow with the Walter J. Ong Center for Language, Media, and Culture, a founding associate of The Cooler Minds, LLC, and a student in the Digital Curation Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Maine. I serve on the CCCC Committee for Computers in Composition and Communication and on the Editorial Board of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, and from July 2004—August 2007, I was the processing archivist of Saint Louis University’s Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection.
I’ve taught courses in the history of rhetoric, rhetorical theory, new media composition, digital English studies, first-year composition, professional and technical writing, medieval literature, science fiction, Tolkien, and British literature at Winthrop University, Creighton University, Saint Louis University, University of North Carolina—Wilmington, and Fontbonne University. My teaching and research center around the intersections of media, technology, and culture, with particular interests in digital rhetoric and composition, digital humanities, media ecology/orality-literacy studies, medieval rhetoric and poetics, and the practices and technologies of memory.