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 Tyler Fox.

Last week I had the good fortune to attend DH2015, the annual digital humanities conference, in Sydney, Australia. It was a week full of information and inspiration.

I was also fortunate to participate in the New Scholars Symposium, a two-day “unconference” for PhD candidates and recently awarded PhDs.[1] Twenty scholars from institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, New Zealand, and Australia came together to share ideas around teaching, researching, and practicing the Digital Humanities. Key scholars in the Digital Humanities also joined us, including Melissa Terras, Jeffrey SchnapCharles van den Heuvel, and Willard McCarty. Our conversations ranged from how to get started in Digital Humanities, what are the methods of digital humanities, and what models seem best for engaging in digital practices. For myself, these conversations were very much starting points with no definitive end point or answer. That said, one resounding theme that emerged from our discussions was the emphasis on the laboratory model.

The lab, and I think also the studio, is an interesting model for work in DH. It promotes collaboration, openness to experimentation and failure, and a practice-based model of research. Perhaps this resonated with me because these are values that I hold dear. I also find them to be important pedagogically, and I wonder how entire curricula in the humanities may be shaped around the lab experience. I am still working out the implications of such ideas. Labs and studios require different kinds of infrastructure and support than many humanities departments have at their disposal. Furthermore, I see the potential for disciplinary friction; which methods, tools, and approaches does a lab adopt? Who is in, and who is out? Clearly, I am still thinking through this idea. I take that as a sign of a successful conference.

As such, my roundup focuses on some of my experiences at DH2015, which of course is not representative of the whole conference .

Deb Verhoeven addressed the lack of women on the stage on the first day of the conference. Here is a 5-minute excerpt from her introduction to Genevieve Bell’s keynote (unfortunately missing some of her great jokes). It is worth listening to. For context, here is a link to some of the Twitter conversation.

Ben Schmidt’s talk, “Data Revisualization as Critical Humanities Practice,” is an excellent example of how we might interrogate past data and the narratives they contain, or don’t, as the case may be.

A number of presentations approached cultural heritage through archives. Mitchell Whitelaw’s project Succession applies a generative approach to cultural heritage and digital images. Sarah Barns uses moving image archives to activate urban spaces, often showing historical images over contemporary spaces.

Genevieve Bell gave an excellent keynote on the art and science of robots. It inspired me to go back to the New York Times series Robotica, my favorite of which is: A Robotic Dog’s Mortality.

Jeffrey Schnapp’s keynote offered a live demo of Curarium, a new tool that uses metadata as an interface (kudos for running a live demo during the keynote!).

Weren’t able to make it to Sydney? Check out ADHO’s Storifies: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.

Pedagogy Toolkit offers a range of teaching resources and tools for composition, rhetoric, and literature courses.

Speaking of labs, Jentery Sayers offers some thoughts on lab infrastructure as research: The MLab: An Infrastructural Disposition.

[1] My thanks to CHCI, centerNet, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and UW-IT Academic Services for supporting my travel to DH2015.

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