I have the honor and privilege of being selected as one of nine Humanities, Arts, Science, Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) Scholars to receive a Travel Grant to the HASTAC 2011 conference held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.  The grant is supported by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

It is a surprise trip and an amazing opportunity to attend a conference I have only heard about via the blog- and tweet-o-sphere.  The theme of this year’s convention is “digital scholarly communication,” focusing on “the promise and challenge of new forms of academic publication and dissemination.”  In fact, one of my first “duties” is to attend the pre-conference session: “Alt-Ac: Alternative Academic Careers Workshop.”  Given that I am on the market this year and looking at less-than-stellar odds of finding a tenure-track job right out of the gate, the workshop will hopefully outline the other paths an “academic” can explore and follow.

I look forward to the long weekend away from Seattle (and its current, unusually dismal La Nina-induced weather).  I can barely spare the time given the “duties” of my teaching, job market, service, dissertation, and “life.”  But this is “work.”  This is “academic.”  And this is “scholarly.”  I look forward to the questions raised by the conference, the conversations, and the opportunity to collaborate and network with my colleagues, peers, strangers, and superstars.  Given that I color myself as a digital humanities scholar, I am always on the hunt for a satisfying definition (or definitions) of what that actually means (for me) and how my own entrances and pet projects might speak to the contours of the emerging “field.”  I cannot help but liken the wrestling over the nature of DH to the wrestling over cultural studies or interdisciplinarity.  It is important wrestling–difficult and challenging and even maddening at times–but I think it is worth the fuss and the mess.

Many thanks to my friends and supporters, within and without the Department of English and the University of Washington.  In particular, thanks to the Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group and Critical Gaming Project, who in part inspired this opportunity.  And, special thanks to Kathy Woodward, Miriam Bartha, and the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the UW, to Fiona Barnett, HASTAC Scholars Director, and to conference organizers Julie Klein and Daniel Herwitz.

More soon: I’ll be blogging and live tweeting (#HASTAC2011).

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