The Research Leave Edition

Following the tradition established by my colleague Matt Kirschenbaum, this post serves as a public declaration of my forthcoming research leave.  I’m delighted to be taking part-time research leave beginning May 1st and running through September 1, 2013. Why am I taking leave? As both Neil Fraistat and Trevor Muñoz mentioned on twitter this week, I’ve signed a contract with Rutgers University Press to publish my first monograph. Based off my dissertation, the book will explore the creation and dissemination of Native American representations through the lens of sports mascotry between ~1928 and 1954. You can look for it in bookstores in 2014. The full draft of the manuscript is done; Reviewers comments are in. It is time to get down to the business of revisions. Effective May 1:

I’ll be available Mondays and Tuesdays for Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)-related business. Meetings, emails, prospective projects, grant work, you name it. Mondays and Tuesdays, I’ll be taking care of that business. Wednesdays through Sundays, I’ll be working on the book.

So, what does this mean for those of you who might care:

1) I will not be on campus or available for meetings except on Mondays and Tuesdays. Exceptions will be made for special circumstances but those will be few and far between and entirely at my discretion.

2) Email will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis. Usually I try to acknowledge email within 24-48 hours. I’ll continue to try to do so, but it is more likely that email response time could stretch to a full week.

3) Commitments. I’ll keep the commitments I have: the NITLE seminar, teaching at DHSI, teaching at the Leipzig summer school, the workshops I’ve already committed to, DevDH.org, and the next iteration of DHWI.  Commitments that start before September 1 will be considered, but it is likely I’ll be unable to participate.

4) Advising. For the projects and colleagues I’m already advising (you know who you are), I’ll keep advising you as efficiently and speedily as possible. New projects, groups, organizations, and colleagues are welcome to ask for advice….but I may not be able to get to you. For those I’m already advising, I’m asking for you to give me as much lead time as possible (ideally 2 weeks) when you have questions or need assistance.

5) Service. Between now and September 1, I will be limiting all service to the existing committees and searches I am on. If you’d like me to consider new service, you can send the invite; it is likely that I won’t be able to begin new service until September 1.

I’m looking forward to starting leave and will be around to answer questions if you have any….but only on mondays and tuesdays.

Why you shouldn’t be a digital humanist

So, it is the end of the official workday in that the official day ends when I leave campus. On mondays, because I teach from 4-6 pm, the official work day gets a little long. I leave the house at 8:20 am, arrive at my desk at 9:05 am, leave work at 6:05 pm, and walk into my apartment at 7 pm (depending on DC traffic and whether WMATA is running well).

Unlike most days where I use my commute to triage email or read whatever strikes my fancy, today I thought I’d put together a few thoughts that have been rumbling around in my head for the last few weeks in the form of a top 5 list.  I think they are most appropriate here on the #dayofdh where people are blogging, tweeting, photo-posting, you name it, to reveal the work that they do as digital humanists. I’m unsurprised that a tremendous number of my dh colleagues are spending their times in meetings, completing what my colleague Trevor Muñoz calls “administrivia”, or just trying to move their project goals forward. I’m so pleased that more the labor of DH is being unveiled for others to see. I wish we were open more than one day a year about all the work that goes into being a digital humanist.  I want that openness because I want to put forth a couple of thoughts that I test drove last week during an invited talk at Clemson. (You can harass @sjappleford for the audio feed of the talk if you want to hear more).

So here we go, 5 reasons why you might not want to be a digital humanist:

5) You will spend a tremendous amount of time being asked to “define digital humanities”. And no matter how much you want to grow the number of digital humanists, it can make you feel like a little piece of your soul is dying every time you need to answer the question.

4) It is quite likely that at least once a month (if not more frequently), someone will call, email, or tweet you, asking if you can just take the time to help them figure out how to (fill in your favorite word here: build a center, start a website, blog, make the printer work, send this email, solve OCR). And they’ll ask for you to do it for free, because well, digital humanists are nice people.

3) You ARE expected to understand technology. And no, I’m not saying you must learn programming languages. I’m saying that you need to understand what technology can and can’t do…stay up to speed on changes in technology. And understand the how the decisions that you make impact what you can do. This may sound mean, but if you can’t check your email, set up a basic database, or click install on software packages on your own….you should think twice about the digital humanities as a place for you.

2) Digital Humanities isn’t the promised land of money and resources. I say again, becoming a digital humanist doesn’t give you any more or less ability that your “traditional” colleagues to get money or resources. There are just as many battles for resources (technologies, personnel, infrastructure, funding) in the digital humanities as there are in “traditional” humanities. In fact, after 8 years as a digital humanist and another 5 prior to that as a “traditional” humanist, I can tell you the resource battles in DH are even more vociferously waged….and the field is getting more and more crowded every day. Today, NEH announced the results of its Digital Humanities Start Up competition and a number of others…..many were disappointed. And that disappointment is just going to grow. There is no formula to win outside money so unless you win the lottery and give it all to your DH project, you are going to have to get down in the muck of fighting for resources (no matter how nice everyone is about the fight).

1) It isn’t about making something once. Sometimes, when I talk to new digital humanists, there is an unspoken thread underlying their comments: “if you build it they will come.” Yea, we get to build it….after we plan it out, build it, customize it, break it, iterate it, beat it with a stick…you get my point. Most digital humanities projects involve actually iterating your development. If you think you build something once and then it exists forever (no matter how complex or simple), you shouldn’t be a digital humanist. We iterate, build, rebuild, write, re-write, and all but dig up completed projects over and over again. The lifespan of most digital project is short…and much shorter than the life of that book sitting on the library shelves.  If you’re planning to hold onto this project for the rest of your life, you’ll have to build it again and again as the technology changes…or at least figure out a preservation strategy to make the initial project accessible 20 years from now.

and finally, the one that doesn’t even make the list because it is more important than anything I’ve said thus far:

You shouldn’t be a digital humanist if …..Your university administrator, department chair, or any other person or entity tells you that is where the money/tenure/prestige/etc are. The most dangerous thing right now in digital humanities isn’t the debate over programming languages, the competition for resources, the inability for DH to coalesce around one definition….It is that more and more scholars are “being” digital humanists not because they are invested in digital tools, resources, methodologies, and approaches but because their university tells them they need to be. Sometimes that gets wrapped up in discussions of the future of education (anyone want a MOOC, anyone? anyone?). Sometimes it gets wrapped in rhetoric about jobs (“where’s your DH chapter/article/project/class?”). And most troublingly, sometimes it gets wrapped up with the business of the University (digital humanities as the revenue-generating division of the humanities.) No matter the rhetorical position, you shouldn’t be working in a field you don’t believe in as a scholar, researcher, staff member, student, etc. Digital humanities isn’t a fall back discipline. It is a complex undertaking that can be alternately rewarding and frustrating.

So, if you find yourself on this list, you might want to at least pause for a moment and ask yourself “Do I really want to invest in the digital humanities?”

 

(originally posted at Day of DH 2013)

Day of DH2013

Day of DH2013 starts in about 4 hours here in Washington, D.C. Like last year’s post, I wanted to start the day of DH offering some context to my day tomorrow. Things at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities are busy. We are gearing up for our final major event of this academic year, the Shared Horizons: Data, Biomedicine, and the Digital Humanities Symposium. It features humanists, digital humanists, bioinformatists, biomedicinists, and library science scholars who are interested in the research methodologies of sequence alignment and network analysis. It will be a great event, I’m sure. But as with all MITH events, I get nervous that things should be as close to perfect as they can be. In part, I think conference, workshop, and these types of events are made by the little things (strong wifi, good snacks, even comfortable chairs) as much as the quality of the presentations. So I’ll be relieved on Friday at 830 pm when the last of the attendees have finished the closing dinner and I’ve returned to my massive to-do list.

Like most staff working in a digital humanities center, I do more than just my regular job. I’m currently working 32 hours per week on MITH-related tasks, 8+ hours per week on my own research, and another 4-6 hours per week teaching a class for the Digital Cultures and Creativity program. On top of all of that, I can’t seem to say no to cool opportunities. So, without further ado, here is this week’s to do list. I won’t get it all done tomorrow (or even likely this week) but it gives you a sense of what I’ve got on tap right now.

In no particular order:

1) Complete the digital history syllabus for the graduate/undergraduate split class I am teaching next academic year

2) Read the book I agreed to review for the Journal of Popular Culture and get the review written.

3) Run down the grad student that I’m interested in hiring part time starting next month to help out with my book project.

4) Draft out the 2 chapters for my collaborator on a new book proposal for his comment.

5) Write the slide decks for the two talks I’m giving about a month from now so that I can run them past the university that invited me to make sure they fit what they want.

6) Prepare the slide deck with my collaborator Simon Appleford for the NITLE seminar we are leading in a few short weeks.

7) Complete travel arrangements for the summer travel I’ve agreed to…plane tickets only get more expensive the closer to summer we get.

8) Complete the syllabus for the course I’m co-teaching this summer with Lynne Siemens at the European Summer School on DH in Leipzig.

9) Register for DH2013 in Lincoln!

10) Draft the final report for my NEH funded Topic Modeling project with Travis Brown.

11) Draft the white paper for my NEH funded Topic Modeling project with Travis Brown.

12) Draft a job ad to share with my collaborators on another funded project to hire a student for the summer to work with us producing digital content.

13) Write the intro and closing slide decks for Shared Horizons.

14) Submit the materials for one of the Executive Committees I’m on so that we can move forward on an initiative I’m super passionate about.

15) Write up talking points for our VPR for the Shared Horizons event.

16) Complete special project readings.

and most importantly on my to-do list:

17) Review the proposed contract for my first book from the publisher. (Yea!!!)

So, tomorrow is pretty busy with meetings. I’ll try to blog meeting by meeting so that you get a glimpse of what I do every day as a digital humanists….but to be frank, once the day gets started it is often hard to pause to note down what is going on. Oh well, it should be a fun day of DH!

(originally posted at Day of DH 2013)

Don’t Call Me

Sean Takats, history professor and director of research projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, posted yesterday the second part of his ongoing documentation of his tenure case at George Mason University. If you haven’t read it and you work in digital projects, are a tenure-track faculty member, or just care about educational labor, you should drop what you are doing now and read it. He ruminates on how a large part of his scholarly portfolio—his digital research with all that it entails—was devalued by the review committee evaluating him for tenure and promotion. They ultimately voted 10-2 in favor of his case.

Takats’ call to recognize project management as a key research activity strikes a very strong and emotional cord for me. He writes:

“Although the committee’s let­ter effec­tively excludes “project man­age­ment” from con­sid­er­a­tion as research, I would argue that it’s actu­ally the cor­ner­stone of all suc­cess­ful research. It’s project man­age­ment that trans­forms a dis­ser­ta­tion prospec­tus into a the­sis, and it’s cer­tainly project man­age­ment that shep­herds a mono­graph from pro­posal to pub­lished book. Fel­low human­ists, I have some news for you: you’re all project man­agers, even if you only direct a staff of one.”

In part, this resonates because part of my responsibility at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities as Assistant Director is to shepherd research projects from their niggling initial moments (those late night bright ideas) to full-fledged functional agendas that result in a variety of digital and traditional scholarly products. A large amount of my time is spent aiding others (my colleagues, the students I teach, and the faculty and staff I engage with) to make their research endeavors successful.

Quantifying that work on a c.v. for a tenure case is very difficult. How do you turn those conversations where you help guide someone else in their vision into a supportable, citable, product? Bethany Nowviskie and others have pointed to project charters and such as a way to capture that labor. I’m all for these formal agreements. But what about all that work that goes in before a project is ever solidified? How do we capture the scrum of idea work that may or may not ever manifest in a grant-funded project (the holy grail of DH) or book length publication (the holy grail of tenure track faculty)?

More broadly, Takats’ post resonates because I think that claiming to be a project manager in the academy is a route to perceived (and often very real) servitude and drudgery. I’ve made this claim publicly before. Takats is right that project management is a cornerstone of successful research and should be valued. But the reality is that the labor structure that the academy is based on looks upon project management as something that is an entry-level position—more advanced than being an undergraduate student but less advanced than any tenure-track faculty job. Project managers are common in the business world where they can be both highly valued and highly paid based on their skills and experience. In many academic institutions, however, project managers are perceived as obstructionist bureaucrats that interfere with the educational and research mission of the university. They get the buildings built and those crazy campus initiatives off the ground, but they aren’t in the classrooms or putting together some new research or theory. They are there to do the boring work that is not “important” or “exciting” enough to warrant a faculty member’s attention. They are structural grease — not the builders themselves. And in the context of ongoing debates about who can call themselves “DH Practitioners” this has real implications for people’s careers.

I’ve been a project “manager” that makes the wheels run. I assigned tasks, checked them off, and managed everyone elses’ agendas. In some rooms, being titled “project manager” meant that my opinions, voice, and labor wasn’t recognized as valuable. I was there to take notes, make sure everyone did their job, and move things along. I wasn’t there to do the work of being a scholar: shaping the goals, methods, approaches, and products. I wasn’t supposed to critically think about how or if we were achieving our research goals. I wasn’t supposed to dream of how one project could lead to the next. And even when I was allowed to dream about research futures, it was recommended that senior members of project teams should lead the next stage so that they could ease the way in gathering resources and getting support. And that is valuable, don’t get me wrong. Some of those senior people are awesome at using their positions to aid us junior folk. After five years working as a digital humanist, though, the need for senior faculty to aid and protect junior scholars still has me concerned. I’m concerned because often times junior scholars are the ones doing this work but due to University rules or academic culture they get relegated to second place in their own research.

Every once in awhile, I’m in one of those meetings where I end to being the manager who metaphorically gets coffee (a.ka. schedule all the meetings, do the follow up, make the engine run, and, yes, literally order the coffee and snacks) instead of being treated as an equal collaborator and colleague. I’ve gotten adept at reading which club in my bag to pull out in those moments. I’ve got a Ph.D. The people mention that to in meetings often recognize the men in the room as Dr. this and Dr. that or Mr. so-and-so but when referring to me call me by my first name. “Actually, I’m Dr. Guiliano” is the call and response to that behavior. Usually, that pulls them up short, as if my gender and age predispose me to be less valuable than anyone else in the room. These are people looking for labor to get them to where they want to go; not collaborators who are seeking true partnerships where all members of the team are elevated to be better researchers, teachers, and scholars. They want someone to make their website, schedule their meetings, and write their grant applications; not argue about the meaning, scope, scale, and conclusions that get included in the project. Sometimes, though, the academic degree that I spent over a decade earning through hard work and copious amounts of blood, sweat, and tears and demonstrating my intellectual value doesn’t aid me getting treated as a collaborator. I shouldn’t need a degree to be recognized for my thoughts. But let’s be real, it definitely eases the way.

I’ve been accused, in those cases where I confront the inequality of labor and assignments, of being “too emotional”. “It isn’t personal. You just have to recognize that you are good at organizing, motivating”….choose your adjective here. Being told that the best of my abilities are checking off to-dos, scheduling meetings, ordering lunches, and such offends me. Am I good at those things? Yes, I am. I was good at those things when I was a 17 year old summer employee for a local government agency. I was good at those things when I was a student at various institutions around the US. And I’m still good at those things now. They are part of what makes me a somewhat successful scholar. But just because I am good at it doesn’t mean that I actually want to spend my time doing those things.

Simon Appleford and I were teaching a project development course earlier this semester for the Digital Humanities Winter Institute, which I co-direct with Trevor Muñoz. One of the students asked me why the course was “project development” when so much of what we were talking about was “project management”. The student asking the question was a junior scholar who has been engaged in what I call “Shadow-PI” work. Shadow-PI work is what happens when a junior scholar has an idea that a faculty member finds interesting or significant but that, due to University rules, the scholar cannot lead when the project is submitted for external or even internal funding. Lots of Universities have these rules, often with no explanation why junior scholars must be relegated to secondary members of the team publicly. Our shadow-PI scholar wanted to know why “project manager” wouldn’t work as a title and why s/he might want to avoid being cast as a good “project manager”. These junior scholars—usually graduate students and professional staff— end up leading the project, doing the scholarly work, and acting as the engine moving the project forward, but they have to create alternative titles for their c.v.’s. Often they get listed as project managers or coordinators for projects that they rightly should be listed as primary investigators.

For all the reasons listed above, I argued that the scholar should avoid the term “project manager”. I explained that s/he should be listed as “Co-Director” or “Lead Investigator” regardless of what the University bureaucracy had listed for external funding purposes. The work s/he was doing was more than just greasing the wheels of the project. S/he was the originator, shaper, and intellectual leader of the effort. That work manifested in getting meetings scheduled; but it also manifested in getting the right people identified to be part of that meeting, prepping them to be amenable to the agenda that s/he held, and strategically guiding discussions to achieve the goals s/he had for the project. As Takats notes, project management can be very intellectually engaged and is always valuable in creating a successful project. Mark Sample has just expanded this quite eloquently in his blog.

At a moment when jobs, but especially good jobs, are hard to come by, using the term “project manager” in reference to oneself is like trying to run a two hundred meter race with crutches. You’ve likely already lost the race before it has even started just by the pure fact that your opponents look at you with crutches and know that you are injured. You are still a world-class runner but you’ve started behind everybody else just by the perception that you’ve got to throw down the crutches to get the race started.

I use the term “project developer” to refer to what I do everyday. The work that Takats points out as valuable for researchers and that should be considered in tenure-track cases needs to get done. But the word “developer” is, for me, more organic. It connotes a project still being conceived, shaped, and grown rather than something clearly thought out that just needs to be guided to completion. For me, it is the difference between starting a roller coaster (a.k.a being the one triggering the ride along the pre-determined route) and building the roller coaster as you go along (a.k.a changing the schematic of the project in development).

All of this is a really long way to say “Please don’t call me a project manager.” I’m a scholar, a historian, and a project developer. And sometimes, I get the coffee. I just prefer not to because, well, I don’t even drink coffee.

Trends at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the University of Victoria in beautiful British Columbia holds an annual summer training institute. For five consecutive days over the last ten years, Ray Siemens and digital humanities colleagues and students from around the globe have gathered to learn new skills and network with one another. With 17 classes, a colloquium, and an unconference as well as informal social and professional gatherings, this year’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) was a particularly rich encounter for the 432 attendees.

Along with the Digital.Humanities@Oxford Summer School 2012 (UK), the European “Culture and Technology” School at the University of Leipzeig (Germany), and colleagues at the University of Tokyo, I was priveledged to attend DHSI not just as a student but also as a collaborator exploring the potential of networked Digital Humanities Institutes across the globe. Here at MITH, we recently announced that we will serve as the first (but hopefully not only) U.S. iteration of DHSI. The Digital Humanities Winter Institute (DHWI) will be held in College Park from January 7 to 11th, 2013 and will feature seven courses, a hack-a-thon, and other Institute events.

During the long plane back from Victoria, BC, I caught up on the tremendous number of tweets (over 25,000) and posts from attendees and organizers at this year’s DHSI. A few trends and discussions that deserve special mention and some ruminations on where these issues could go:

For all the statistics that programming is a male dominated environment (see the term “brogrammer” for the various incarnations) and that DH is dominated by men, what was quite remarkable at DHSI was the tremendous showing by the female instructors and organizers. These women are highly trained in so many fields (literature, business, computer science, history, new media studies, and librarianship to name a few) and their continued engagement with training the next generation of scholars deserves special mention. I’d love to see more explicit discussion by and about women in DH: who are we? what sort of theoretical/pedagogical/methodological and personal interventions are we making? and how do we create an academic environment that supports and advises the existing and next generation of female scholars?

From presenters soliciting for job opportunities to panels about the alt-ac track, an underlying thread of DHSI for many junior scholars was the job market and its future. Professional organizations and news media have made much of digital humanities and its position as the “savior” or future of humanities scholarship. Yet for all the celebration about the growing number of digital humanities job opportunities, the number of opportunities remains minimal compared to the large number of students seeking employment. It would be quite useful to consider panels at events like these from scholars who’ve recently secured employment speaking about the market and their successful navigation of such. It’d also be great to see the digital humanities community begin to provide feedback on the job advertisements that are being put out by academic departments and research centers. Why? A number of scholars noted that digital jobs seems to suffer from a bit of imbalance: they pay lower than traditional academic positions of the same rank but assume more experience with administrative and fundraising matters—something that usually takes years to develop in any scholar’s portfolio much less young digital humanists who have recently completed their degrees.

One other discussion/trend that echoed broadly across the various attendees was concern for their individual project and the resources available to take their project to the next level. Again and again, scholars from institutions lamented that they lacked the resources (technical, personnel, or financial) to move their project along. These scholars spanned the various types of academic institutions—from community colleges to liberal arts to research one universities and everything in between—and experience. Here at MITH, we spend a significant amount of time advising individuals on their projects. I wonder what it would look like if we began to feature a volunteer group of centers/institutions/commons who could provide this service to digital humanities. Would anyone be interested? Could we run a mini-institute that was less about training individuals and more of a matching service/hack-a-thon.I could imagine a project (or projects) being chosen for special development through the week of the Institute. This “promising” scholarship could potentially have an army of hundreds focused exclusively on its project. It’s be a novel experiment in project development. What exactly could be achieved if dozens or even hundreds worked on a project live?

Jen Guiliano is Assistant Director at MITHLook for more posts from MITH staff who attended DHSI later this week!

[originally published June 12, 2012 at http://mith.umd.edu/trends-at-the-digital-humanities-summer-institute/%5D

DH Internationally: Dispatches from Hamburg

Digital Humanists from across the globe gathered last week at our annual conference, DH2012, hosted in the lovely city of Hamburg, Germany. While the weather felt tremendously cold to those of us who’ve spent the last few weeks in the US with 100 plus degree temps, the conference itself could not have had a warmer reception. From keynotes that explored the intersections of cultural studies, internationality, and digitality to the variety of conference presentations and events, DH2012 lived up to its efforts to capture digital culture and the current state of the field. And Hamburg itself was welcoming to a large number of us who spoke no German beyond simple phrases.

Continuing our efforts to capture trends, innovative research agendas, and just plain DH fun for those who can’t always attend every event they want, here are a few quick thoughts on the conference.

From an U.S. centered-perspective, the week was a celebration of the funding efforts of the Office of Digital Humanities and the tremendous work they have done to increase the disciplinary, methodological, and humanistic questions being funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. From the work of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture’s Scalar (still in beta) to Scholar’s Labs recently released Neatline through our own Topic Modeling Workshop, the ODH proved that even small amount of federal funding can have transformative powers in Humanities research. I only wish that NEH administrators and our Congress could have been in the room for these presentations: the question of the value of the NEH and the impact of ODH more specifically was soundly recognized by the international audience and proved that there is a value in humanities within the globally-engaged world.

More internationally-speaking, the conference was a continuing salvo in the rapid spread of digital humanities, both to individuals but also to entirely new professional and institutional organizations. The Japanese Digital Humanities Organization joined the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, our national umbrella organization (with our own Neil Fraistat as its incoming Chair of the Steering Committee), while the Germans celebrated the solidification of their own national organization.

For all of these trumpets and well-deserved fanfare, DH2012 continued its existing efforts to grapple with diversity. While the gender balance visually appears to be improving, the event itself continues to struggle with garnering the attention and attendance of digital humanists in Latin America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Africa (to name just a few). The Mexican Network of Digital Humanists (Red de Humanistas Digitales, RedHD) held the First Meeting (or Conference) of Digital Humanists at the Vasconcelos Library, Mexico City earlier this year and presented a bit on their efforts but, by and large, the conference was dominated by attendees from the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. There are digital humanities efforts in other nations. How can we do better to support their attendance at our international event?

Related to, but divergent from, the issue of national diversity is the issue of diversity in Digital Humanities more generally. Brought to attention in a number of presentations but especially that of Amy Earhart (see the video), I was troubled by the definition of what constituted/constitutes diversity and where those methodologies, pedagogies, and theories seemed to have disappeared to. With clear exception of Earhart and a handful of others, it seemed diversity beyond nationality was a gesture in name only (read: I’ve included women within my data, or women are part of the project, or this project concerns nationality X). There was extraordinarily little attention to diversity as construction, where race, class, ability, sexuality, and on modify, constrain, construct, and influence the data, methodology, pedagogy, theory, and research practices within digital humanities. I am reminded of a friend who, in a discussion of metholodogical developments in my own dissertation work on early 20th century white middle-class male production of Native American masculinity through halftime mascotry/performance, once remarked to me about a thesis I’d written: “all of the work you’ve done is great, but you’ve missed the obvious point: until you address the white, the middle-class, the male, the production, the masculinity, the identity politics, AND the performance aspects that exclude others from those categories and sources/data, you haven’t done a responsible analysis.” Put more simply, a responsible humanistic analysis recognizes divergent data, theory, methodology, pedagogy and practice. As a historian, I’m not permitted to gesture at subaltern theorists, outlying sources, or isolationist research practice just because I am focused on achieving a methodological goal. I must instead confront, rectify, and engage with these things or else leave myself open to critique. Just because we discuss the technical methodologies more blantently and frequently within our gathering and focus on our products, does not mean we should discard our obligations as humanists: to produce sound scholarly inquiries that answer humanities questions.

I don’t mean to suggest that there are not shining examples of projects, individuals, and institutions that are confronting these issues…but until exchange between digital humanists addresses not just the digital methodological questions but also the humanistic methodological questions, I fear we will continue to suffer from stymied efforts to address diversity in meaningful ways. I find myself wanting to shout: Where my Cultural Theorists At?

I lay no blame for this on the program committee, nor the professional organization as a whole, but instead suggest that it is our obligation as individual scholars to recruit the attendance and presentation of promising scholars from fields that offer potential to transform digital humanities. In my conference-addled brain, I hope for a digital humanities future where we see the emergence of scholars who can easily merge method, theory, and practice in meaningful ways that truly interrogate our assumptions, dependencies, and conclusions.

[originally posted: July 24th at http://mith.umd.edu/dh-internationally-dispatches-from-hamburg/%5D

 

 

Digital Humanities Winter Institute

I am delighted to announce that I am co-directing the Digital Humanities Winter Institute along with my colleague Trevor Muñoz of the University of Maryland. I will also be offering a core course in Project Development during the 2013 Institute. Please read the full announcement below:

MITH will host the first annual Digital Humanities Winter Institute (DHWI), from Monday, January 7, 2013, to Friday, January 11, 2013, at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. We’re delighted to be expanding the model pioneered by the highly-successful Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) at the University of Victoria to the United States.

DHWI will provide an opportunity for scholars to learn new skills relevant to different kinds of digital scholarship while mingling with like-minded colleagues in coursework, social events, and lectures during an intensive, week-long event located amid the many attractions of the Washington, D.C. region.

Courses are open to all skill levels and will cater to many different interests. For the 2013 Institute we’ve assembled an amazing group of instructors who will teach everything from introductory courses on project development and programming, to intermediate level courses on image analysis, teaching with multimedia, and data curation. DHWI will also feature more technically-advanced courses on text analysis and linked open data. We hope that the curricula we’ve assembled will appeal to graduate students, faculty, librarians, and museum professionals as well as participants from government and non-governmental organizations.

An exciting program of extracurricular events will accompany the formal DHWI courses to capitalize on the Institute’s proximity to the many cultural heritage organizations in the region. This stream of activities, which we’re calling “DHWI Public Digital Humanities,” will include an API workshop, a hack-a-thon, and opportunities to contribute videos and other materials to the 4Humanities campaign to document the importance of the humanities for contemporary society.

Both the outward-looking DHWI Public Digital Humanities program and the week of high-caliber, in-depth digital humanities coursework will be kicked off by the Institute Lecture. This year’s speaker will be Seb Chan, currently the Director of Digital & Emerging Media at the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City.

We hope that many of you will join us this winter in Maryland for what promises to be a terrific event. Registration is now available at this site.

Like DHSI, we will be offering a limited number of sponsored student scholarships to help cover the cost of attending the Institute. The scholarships are made possible through the generosity of this year’s DHWI Instructors and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

To keep up with news and events related to DHWI, follow @dhwi_mith.