Gender, Diversity, Engaged Scholarship and DH

“Build a better panel: Women in DH” is the title of one of Jacqueline Wernimont’s latest projects, a crowdsourced DB of women in DH. –Add yourself to it if you have not yet!– Projects like this remind us that often in the midst of constructing the democratic discourse of Humanities’ digital future, we forget to look at the inequalities, hierarchies, and access barriers that exist today. Is DH really so white and so male? Now that we have broader reach, can we afford not to consider the responsibilities of the public intellectual?

For Texans: Two New(ish) Ways to Get/Stay Connected to Local Digital Humanities Communities

Austin-area folks can join the UT-based Digital Humanities Discussion List to stay connected to (and help build!) the Central Texas DH community. Monthly happy hours are promoted via this list, and subscribers are encouraged to post updates, events, inquiries, grant announcements, calls for papers, opportunities for collaboration, etc.

Texans (and friendly neighbors) are invited to create a profile on the Texas Digital Humanities Consortium website. We are currently working to improve the site and build out the Consortium itself. A post-TCDL mini-conference is being planned, and the Steering Committee is developing a governance structure for the group. Join us!

A big Texas thank you to our sponsors!

As everyone who has participated in a THATCamp knows, successful unconferences depend upon the interest, collaboration, and generosity of numerous individuals and institutions. We feel especially fortunate to have received a lot of support from local and regional sources in both the public and private spheres:

THATCamp Digital Pedagogy ATX 2016 is hosted by the University of Texas Libraries. The free registration, food & drink, and commemorative schwag are all funded by generous contributions from UT’s College of Liberal ArtsDepartment of ClassicsHarry Ransom CenterLiberal Arts Instructional Technology ServicesLILLAS Benson Digital Scholarship, & Program in Comparative Literature, and FromThePage, Southwestern University Smith Library Center Department of Research and Digital Scholarship, and St. Edward’s Office of Information Technology.

The planning committee is an inter-institutional group composed of UT’s Jessica Aberle, Hannah Alpert-Abrams, Cindy Fisher, Jennifer Hecker, Elon Lang, Adam Rabinowitz, Fatma Tarlaci & Ece Turnator, and Rebecca Frost Davis, Kim Garza & Brittney Johnson (St. Edward’s University), Charlotte Nunes (Southwestern University), and Ben Brumfield (FromThePage).

Finally, we would like to thank all of our participants for traveling from around the country and around the region to join us in making THATCamp Digital Pedagogy ATX 2016 such a productive and compelling time. We hope you all have enjoyed Austin in the new year and will keep in touch!

Digital Humanities and/in the City

Meta-scholarship in Digital Humanities has largely focused on defining the field and what counts as a DH program, project, or tool. However, spurred in part by Alan Liu’s 2011 MLA presentation and 2012 article, “Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?” recent studies of the field have sought to identify the qualities of digital humanists themselves as well as to propose how they should interact with larger or external cultures, such as those of science technology, and business. Attention is now being given to the roles of race, gender, class, and place in DH. Given the geographical distribution of higher-ed institutions across the nation, most American DH programs are based in college towns rather than major metropolitan areas. This session asks, how might DH programs and/or projects involving students at urban colleges or universities reflect big-city cultures, concerns, and/or communities? Are digital methods well suited for projects that take cities, ongoing projects in their own right, as subject matter?  Can digital pedagogy increase civic engagement and/or enhance fieldwork for students living in or near major cities?

What Tools Do Digital Humanists Still Need?

The tools that digital humanists use have changed dramatically since people began using the term.  Often, DHers find and adapt existing technologies to new purposes.  However, sometimes software developers build software with the purpose of solving problems digital humanists have already identified (see

I’m a software developer and I like to solve digital humanities problems.  I’d like to learn more about what unfulfilled digital needs digital humanists have:

  • What are the problems you have that feel like they need a software solution?
  • What area of your work is full of almost-there technologies that accomplish half of what you need them to, but lack essential features to make them really useful to you?
  • What sorts of tools do you dream about having access to?
  • What tools do you use that feel inadequate to the tasks you put them to?

This discussion could go in a bunch of different, beneficial, ways.

  • We can identify common problems for digital humanists and begin to imagine solutions for them
  • We can probably identify existing resources for people who just haven’t been matched with the right technology for them.
  • We can feed the todo lists of future hackathons and the plant seeds in the minds of open-source and university-based developers.


The Newbie Network

New to the field? Recent graduate? Current student? Let’s connect!

I’m proposing a session where newbies (like myself) talk about what’s working for them, what’s not working for them, and how we’re “making it” as budding digital humanitarians through small group discussion.

Digital Pedagogy and Public Humanities Projects

The degree to which students engage with the broader communities surrounding their academic institutions varies hugely. At campus universities, particularly those more physically separate from towns/cities, it can be common for students to remain ignorant of the current issues and past histories unique to their surroundings. Public humanities initiatives are increasingly offering an antidote to these divisions. At the same time, the open access nature of many digital projects and the growing number of accessible digital tools provide educators with a wide range of opportunities to collaborate with students on this type of work. By engaging in community education, students develop valuable skills such as writing for diverse audiences. Furthermore, breaking down some of the boundaries between their lives on- and off-campus helps show them the ways in which humanities scholarship might remain relevant to their lives after graduation.

This session will be focused on issues specific to Public Humanities projects with a digital pedagogy element, discussion of best practices, and the value of alternative modes of writing. A similar workshop is taking place at MLA16 (session #461, “Public Humanities Pedagogy Workshop,” Sat 8.30am). We can configure our session to serve as a complement to this workshop if there a number of THATCamp participants interested in attending both. If there is sufficient interest, we will also use the session to begin organizing a proposal for a Public Humanities workshop at the Digital Humanities 2016 conference in Krakow in June (proposals due 2/17).

Creating Engaging Digital Workshops – session proposal

Libraries and DH practitioners are increasingly called upon to lead workshops on DH tools for students, faculty, and other professionals. We may be invited to teach use of library databases or catalogues; use of platforms like Scalar and Neatline Omeka; or use of tools for analysis like topic modeling or sound analysis. Challenges for this kind of teaching include: engaging students/audience with the screen; teaching across multiple computers; teaching across degrees of computer literacy; and teaching across different audiences.

How do we teach digital tools in an engaging environment that encourages active learning? How do we teach digital skills while also encouraging critical reflection? How do we produce coherent lessons that open new doorways for future learning?

Session Proposal: Access and Inclusivity

Despite its claims toward openness and community-building, the Digital Humanities is still a largely expensive and often exclusionary practice. Projects both large and small depend on grants and costly tools, and many of those projects still focus on canonic, white (often male) figures. As such, the idea of access in digital pedagogy is increasingly material as well as ideological. How do we ensure that students are acquiring and practising digital skills without the use of cost-prohibitive tools and hardware? What strategies can we employ to avoid taking students’ access to and understanding of digital tools for granted? Do we risk alienating students when our projects don’t take elements like race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality into consideration?

This session will encourage participants to discuss best practices for ensuring (free, open) access to technology as well as strategies for inclusivity, both in terms of what projects we create with our students and, more broadly, in terms of the intersection of identity and digital humanities. This session also aims to invite participants to share free and open-source tools they have used in their own pedagogy.