This Week in Digital Humanities and Pedagogy

Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Anne Donlon.

I am at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (#dhsi2015) at the University of Victoria this week to take Text Encoding Fundamentals and their Application and soak in the surrounding unconference, lectures, poster session, and conviviality. Besides the course I’m taking, I am looking forward to hearing from participants in basically all of the other courses (and reading their course materials), but especially Feminist Digital Humanities (and their femdh Zotero library), Digital Humanities in a Global Context, and Digital Indigeneity.

Since entering the world of academic libraries as a CLIR postdoctoral fellow last August, I have been eager to hear from those thinking about issues of access, race, gender, and diversity in the library. The Tuesday evening Twitter conversation #critlib has been a great resource (during which I have mostly been a lurker). This week’s conversation will be on “feminist contributions in LIS.” The #critlib Chats Cheat Sheet includes links to readings and an archive of previous discussions, storified conversations, and ongoing projects.

Similarly, I have been interested in critical digital humanities. Amy Earhart’s keynote last week, “DH Futures: Conflict, Power and Public Knowledge,” at the Joint Canadian Society for the Digital Humanities (CSDH/SCHN) and Association for Computers in the Humanities Conference (which I only witnessed from afar via #csdhach2015 on Twitter and a collection of tweets on Storify–but I look forward to the article version and her forthcoming book), outlined a lineage for digital humanities that helps me to think critically about methodology and discipline.

Earhart’s comments about textual studies were particularly of interest as I packed my bags to go to the Text Encoding course at DHSI.

I have also been catching up on HASTAC proceedings (featured in Amanda Licastro’s recent roundup for JITP). Roopika Risam posted the text of her closing plenary keynote, “Across (Two) Imperial Cultures.” Risam’s talk addresses the misguided rhetoric that poses digital humanities as the science-y solution to the “crisis of the humanities,” and instead urges us “to consider the relation between the digital and the human – not a fundamental opposition itself.” (For some playful commentary on DH as the salvation of the university, check out the newly launched DH elevator pitch generator.) Risam also named and offered counterpoint to “the hegemony of Anglo-American (that is, Anglophone U.S., U.K. and Canadian) digital humanities.”

Risam mentions in passing the role of metaphor in the world of science and computing, and quotes Gail Houston, chair of the English department at the University of New Mexico: “Hard sciences and social sciences depend upon metaphor (the stuff of fiction and poetry, Shakespeare and Woolf) to describe abstract algorithms and theories.” I have been interested in the metaphors used in digital technology and computing. During our summer library camp, a fellow CLIR postdoc Tim Norris, trained as a geographer, was puzzled by the widespread invocations of “ecosystems” to describe digital library worlds. (He later wrote a blog post about it.) Many of these digital metaphors tend to be architectural or environmental, and sometimes militaristic, which bring their own historical legacies, as well as logics and epistemologies that delimit our methods and questions in ways we ought to be aware of.

At the Social Knowledge Creation in the Humanities mini-conference that met on Sunday at DHSI, several of these metaphors were interrogated. “The cloud is not a cloud,” David Powell remarked in the discussion (and I’m paraphrasing), “it’s a server farm in Norway or the middle of Kansas.” And cables that lie across the bottom of the oceans.

In the opening talk at the mini-conference, John Maxwell presented an elegant history of humanities computing, noting the impact of the architecture text A Pattern Language: Town, Buildings, Construction on the design of computing systems. The idea of “universal design” in accessibility on the web is also taken from architecture, as George H. Williams discusses in “Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities” in Debates in the Digital Humanities.

Closer to home, members of JITP’s editorial collective are planning a new short section that would feature narratives, code, and data to illuminate the making of digital projects. The section is proposed as “Blueprint,” a metaphor legible because of established architectural metaphors in digital work. I have been trying to articulate an alternate metaphor related to patterns and plans for craft and hand work — Hannah Höch’s photomontages on embroidery patterns came to my mind. While I am in favor of keeping “Blueprint” as the section title, I am also interested in engaging the more feminized language of craft and handiwork. A related interest in the intersection of language and labor appears in Lauren Klein’s  “The Carework and Codework of Digital Humanities,” recently shared from her talk from Digital Antiquarian. She asks “how DH might be better served if we re-envisioned our work as carework.”

Finally, this past week Alex Gil solicited resources for a #blackstudieslibguide, compiled so far with Storify (and stay tuned for a Zotero library and lib guide online). Add resources by tweeting them with the hashtag #blackstudieslibguide.

Some upcoming dates:

Digital Pedagogy Institute, proposals due June 12.
Queerness and Games Conference, proposals due June 15.
Digital Library Federation Forum, proposals due June 22.
HILT takes place July 27-30.

Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to

'This Week in Digital Humanities and Pedagogy' has 1 comment

  1. June 23, 2015 @ 1:24 pm This Week in Digital Humanities and Pedagogy

    […] Anne Donlon mentioned earlier, stay tuned for our new Blueprint section, a section where folks can share their recipes and or […]


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