Digital Humanities and the Future of Scholarship: Exclusivity, Disruption, and Leading from the Margins

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A Presentation by Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris for the Digital Currents initiative at University of Michigan.

Where DH grew out of positions of deep and necessary inquiry — especially in that its early advocates had to form communities of practice beyond the pale of traditional academic communities — today that inquiry has eroded into gratuitous and massively-funded career-building projects.

Published in: Education

Digital Humanities and the Future of Scholarship: Exclusivity, Disruption, and Leading from the Margins

  1. 1. Photo by flickr user Son of Groucho Digital Humanities and the Future of Scholarship: Exclusivity, Disruption, and Leading from the Margins Sean Michael Morris (@slamteacher) Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) “I am hopeful, not out of mere stubbornness, but out of an existential, concrete imperative.” ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope
  2. 2. Sean Michael Morris (@slamteacher) PART 1: Leading from the Margins
  3. 3. Photo by flickr user Fio There is no better solution to the problems scholarship faces than its professors, adjuncts, and students. Each of us has agency we can apply — not only to create our own success, but to ensure the success of those who come after us.
  4. 4. “Like many others, I’m tired of academia. I’m disappointed and disillusioned by a lot of the promises academia has made and failed to deliver on.” ~ Adeline Koh,“Academia,You Don’t Own Me Any Longer: Or,Why I Started a Small Business While On Sabbatical” Photo by flickr user Graeme Law
  5. 5. Photo by flickr user Fio From kindergarten through the writing of a dissertation, we wait upon the satisfaction of others, a nod, permission to speak. Indeed, the final step in our long life of study is not to present a dissertation, but to defend one. A dissertation should be met with applause, not with a defense.
  6. 6. “My iron determination to offer authors publication is dogged. I prowl the gates of this journal, I do — but to keep them open, not closed; to invite in rather than keep out.” ~ Sean Michael Morris,“Call for Editors” Photo by flickr user alexandre alacchi
  7. 7. “Editors can serve as gatekeepers, yes, but they also solicit writing, contextualize it, help refine it and, ideally, put it into conversation with other voices.” ~ Annemarie Pérez,“Textual Communities:Writing, Editing, and Generation in Chicana Feminism” Photo by flickr user Jessica
  8. 8. Photo by flickr user Fio “My name does not belong on the Board, I’m told, because lecturers are itinerant, and because to purchase more small white letters would cost the department too much money.” ~ Katie Rose Guest Pryal,“The Lecturer’s Almanac”
  9. 9. Photo by flickr user Fio What happens when we put the “I” back into our work is really nothing short of the return of the human to that work.We forget to oppress ourselves.
  10. 10. Photo by flickr user Fio “Revolutionary leaders cannot be falsely generous, nor can they manipulate.Whereas the oppressor elites flourish by trampling the people underfoot, the revolutionary leaders can flourish only in communion with the people.” ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  11. 11. Photo by flickr user Fio “There is something organically extra-institutional, even anti-institutional, about the quizzical approach of Digital Humanities. It is as much a practice of inspection as it is of invention … It is its own pain in the ass. And when it’s not, it fails to be noteworthy.” ~ Sean Michael Morris,“Ecstatic Necessariness:Turmoil as Process in Digital Humanities”
  12. 12. Photo by flickr user Fio “academia with this digital humanities push is rushing to catch up with centuries old practices of marginalized wmn / & really, academia made itself via the exclusion/ delegitimizing of these kinda open grassroots scholarship practices. / now its ready to acknowledge them, but only via the approved bodies & positionalities.” ~ @so_treu
  13. 13. Photo by flickr user Fio Where DH grew out of positions of deep and necessary inquiry — especially in that its early advocates had to form communities of practice beyond the pale of traditional academic communities — today that inquiry has eroded into gratuitous and massively-funded career-building projects.
  14. 14. Photo by flickr user Fio “I am hopeful not out of mere stubbornness, but out of an existential, concrete imperative.” ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope
  15. 15. Photo by flickr user Raïssa "Increasingly, I think the work of education is activism not teaching.” ~ Jesse Stommel,“Leaving Wisconsin”
  16. 16. Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) PART 2:The Future of Scholarship
  17. 17. Photo by flickr user Fio A year ago, when the UW system started to feel pressure, I was told to “be careful.” I was advised by many people at all levels to compromise my scholarly work for tenure (or to just do different work altogether).
  18. 18. Photo by flickr user Dmitry Krendelev The following bolded words were sent to me in a letter for my official file: “The Committee wants to send a clear message that what matters is tenure, what matters for tenure is peer review, and work posted on the web is not considered peer-reviewed.”
  19. 19. Photo by flickr user Fio Our scholarship should not be static. It must resist the deadening impulse of much so-called “academic rigor.”
  20. 20. Photo by flickr user petalouda62 Increasingly, the web is a space of politics, a social space, a professional space, a space of learning, a space of community.And, for better or worse, more and more of our work is happening there.
  21. 21. Photo by flickr user Tambako The Jaguar This is the voice I speak in, the voice I write in, a voice that chooses at strategic moments to generalize. It is often (to my mind) a more rigorous voice, because it is a hybrid voice, attempting to balance the nuanced analysis of a scholarly approach with a desire to make the work accessible.
  22. 22. Scholarship “I am not suggesting that the future survival of the academy requires us to put academic publishing safely in its grave, [but] I do want to indicate that certain aspects of the academic publishing process are neither quite as alive as we’d like them to be, nor quite as dead as might be most convenient … It’s thus important for us to consider the work that the book is and isn’t doing for us.” ~ Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Planned Obsolescence
  23. 23. Public Scholarship “The work of public engagement comes not after the scholarship, but as part of the scholarship.” ~ Steven Lubar,“Seven Rules for Public Humanists”
  24. 24. Public Digital Scholarship “Post-print publishing keeps its focus on moving objects: digital artifacts and networked conversations that can be plumbed at the level of the code behind them, tracked in their progress through the web, or catalogued next to works beside which they would not normally sit.” ~ Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel,“Hybrid Pedagogy, Digital Humanities, and the Future of Academic Publishing”
  25. 25. Photo by flickr user Fio The impetus for my scholarly work and publishing is to do my pedagogy in much larger and more open spaces.This is my digital humanities, and it is one focused less on reading humanities texts with digital tools, and more on using humanities tools — humane tools — to read and make digital texts.
  26. 26. Photo by flickr user twinkabauter Writing is, for me, a pedagogical act. It isn’t that my scholarship and teaching are connected, but rather that they are coterminous. For me, Twitter is the space where this is most fully realized.
  27. 27. Twitter as Scholarly Platform
  28. 28. Photo by Hamed Saber “The rot we’re seeing in Twitter is the rot of participatory media devolved into competitive spheres where the collective “we” treats conversational contributions as fixed print-like identity claims.” ~ Bonnie Stewart,“Something is rotten in the state of…Twitter”
  29. 29. Photo by Jan Plogmann Twitter offers space for dialogue.The 140-character limit leaves no room for monologues. Even a series of tweets strung together in succession creates opportunities at every turn for discussion. Each individual tweet becomes an addressable object, always a beginning and never a conclusion.
  30. 30. Photo by Bob Jagendorf “As a medium,Twitter is decentered—that’s why gatekeeper journalists and conservative luddites continue to warn us about the dangers of the messy, uncontrollable, fragmented nature of Twitter conversations.” ~ Dorothy Kim and Eunsong Kim,“The #TwitterEthics Manifesto”
  31. 31. The Public Digital Humanities The PUBLIC DIGITAL HUMANITIES is built around networked learning communities, not repositories for content, and its scholarly product is a conversation, one that engages a broad public while blurring the distinction between research, teaching, service, and outreach.
  32. 32. all learning is necessarily hybrid Hybrid Pedagogy is an open-access journal that
 : is not ideologically neutral;
 : connects discussions of critical pedagogy, digital pedagogy, and online pedagogy;
 : brings higher education and K-12 teachers into conversation with the e-learning and open education communities;
 : considers our personal and professional hybridity;
 : disrupts distinctions between students, teachers, and learners;
 : explores the relationship between pedagogy and scholarship;
 : invites its audience to participate in (and be an integral part of) the peer review process;
 : and thus interrogates (and makes transparent) academic publishing practices.
  33. 33. Hybrid Pedagogy uses a Collaborative Peer Review process, in which editors engage directly with authors to revise and develop articles. Editorial work is done both asynchronously and synchronously in a Google Doc that evolves through an open dialogue between author and editors.
  34. 34. Photo by MythicSeabass In our efforts at scholarly publishing, I would argue for the exact opposite of objectivity -- for an intense subjectivity.
  35. 35. Photo by flickr user Fio We have built an almost ironclad academic system — and I acknowledge myself as one of its privileged builders — a system which excludes the voices of students, which calls students “customers” while monetizing their intellectual property, which denigrates the work of learning through assessment mechanisms and credentialing pyramid schemes.
  36. 36. Photo by flickr user Fio What counts as digital humanities, ultimately, is work that doesn’t try to police the boundaries of what counts as digital humanities.
  37. 37. Photo by flickr user J J It’s not that we need to do this work in bigger tents but that we need to move outside tents altogether.This is what I call the “humongous tent digital humanities.”
  38. 38. Photo by flickr user Dmitry Krendelev bit.ly/futuredh

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