Dr. Ciaran B. Trace, Associate Professor, School of Information


Research Agenda

I’m interested in studying what constitutes a literate society and the role that people play in creating and sustaining literate environments. Using a variety of methods (historical, qualitative, quantitative, and experimental) I study the nature of information objects, the history of information institutions and information work, the use and deployment of information in everyday and in professional settings, and the impact of information on the daily lives of individuals and of members of social groups. My work is shaped by a particular interest in the study of written records, those information objects that are the byproducts of personal and organizational action, and that subsequently serve as a form of data or as evidence for scholarly research. Spanning the period from the Progressive Era to modern times, my research has illuminated the information worlds of disparate communities, including Southern state archival agencies, 4-H clubs, self-trackers, ovarian cancer patients and their families, and humanities scholars. As part of this study of information, my research investigates a number of key research questions:

  • What are the theoretical and conceptual foundations of information and information work?

  • What is the nature, meaning, and function of information in everyday life?

  • How does materiality and the notion of maintenance mediate the relationship between people and information objects?

  • What is the history and role of information institutions and information work in society (past and present)? How do institutions and individuals inform what it means to be literate?

Professional Activities

I currently serve as co-editor of Information & Culture. I&C publishes original, high-quality, peer reviewed articles examining the social and cultural influences and impact of information and its associated technologies, broadly construed, on all areas of human endeavor.


  • Contact Information:
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    School of Information
    1616 Guadalupe Suite #5.202
    Austin, TX 78701-1213

    (512) 232-3508


    ORCID https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7118-6610 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7118-6610