In anticipation of the release of Disrupting the Digital Humanities, edited by Dorothy Kim and Jesse Stommel, published by Punctum Books, I am joining a number of the contributors to the volume in a roundtable session at the American Studies Association’s annual meeting. This year’s conference is in Chicago, IL and is organized around the theme “Pedagogies of Dissent.” Below is the description of the roundtable:
Disrupting DH, Dissident DH
Thu, November 9, 2:00 to 3:45pm
Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Towe
All too often, defining a discipline becomes more an exercise of exclusion than inclusion.
This roundtable invites contributors to the edited collection Disrupting the Digital Humanities, forthcoming this year from Punctum Press, edited by Dorothy Kim and Jesse Stommel. Both the roundtable and collection seek to rethink how we map disciplinary terrain by directly confronting the gatekeeping impulse of many other so-called field-defining collections. What is most beautiful about the work of the Digital Humanities is exactly the fact that it can’t be tidily anthologized. In fact, the desire to neatly define the Digital Humanities (to filter the DH-y from the DH) is a way of excluding the radically diverse work that actually constitutes the field. This collection, then, works to push and prod at the edges of the Digital Humanities—as theory, practice, and pedagogy—to open the Digital Humanities rather than close it down. Ultimately, it’s exactly the fringes, the outliers, that make the Digital Humanities both lovely and rigorous.
Many of the roundtable’s teachers, scholars, and practitioners originally were drawn to the Digital Humanities because we felt like outcasts, because we had been marginalized within the academic community. We gathered together because our work collectively disrupted the hegemony and insularity of the “traditional” humanities. Our work was collaborative, took risks, flattened hierarchies, shared resources, and created new and risky paradigms for humanities work. As attentions have turned increasingly toward the Digital Humanities, many of us have found ourselves more and more disillusioned. Much of that risk-taking, collaborative, community-supported, and open-to-all-communities practice has started to be elided for a DH creation-and-inclusion narrative that has made a turn towards traditional scholarship with a digital hand, an interest in only government or institutionally-funded database projects and tools, and a turn away from critical analysis of its own embedded practices in relation to issues around multilingualism, race, gender, disability, and global praxis.
The roundtable and collection do not constitute yet another reservoir for the new Digital Humanities canon. Rather, our aim is less about assembling content as it is about creating new conversations. Building a truly communal space for the digital humanities requires that we all approach that space with a commitment to: 1) creating open and non-hierarchical dialogues; 2) championing non-traditional work; 3) amplifying marginalized voices; 4) advocating for students and learners; and 5) sharing generously to support the work of our peers. Our aim in gathering and presenting this material is to construct something that uses all of the talk about what the digital humanities is and isn’t as a jumping off point for a much deeper inquiry about disciplinarity, the future of higher education, and what it is to be radically and diversely human in the digital age.
For this year’s annual meeting, particularly given the theme “Pedagogies of Dissent,” we offer a roundtable of lightning talks and Q&A on dissident DH pedagogies. We hope to showcase how digital humanities work can resist, protest, and build community in a politically precarious age.
Originally, I was supposed to attend (and serve as chair), but I had a conflict with a different conference. Instead, I put together a brief presentation of my “lightning talk” to be run as part of the session. (I would also watch the Twitter backchannel and respond if necessary.) My presentation is a quick run through of the chapter I contributed to Disrupting the Digital Humanities, an essay entitled, “Playing as Making”:
I am disappointed that I could not be there, but I am thrilled to be a part of the book and the conversation it will engender. Many thanks to Dorothy Kim, Jesse Stommel, and all of the roundtable participants. Good luck at ASA 2017!