In Sessions on October 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm



  • Presentation and Q & A featuring special guest Julie Klein
  • Discussion of “Disciplines” readings
  • Discussion of blog post assignment and mock conference assignments

Readings for Next Week:

Assignments for Next Week:

  • Everyone: Blog post topic proposals due via email by 11:30 PM, Sunday, 11/01.
  • Natty B, Corey, Sarah, & Val: “digital potpourri” demonstrations
  • Everyone else: write a response to the above readings and bring it with you to class
  1. Questions for JK:

    I found myself especially interested in the education chapter of Julie’s book. Furthermore, I found the introductory course section to be very informative. This is where my question lies. This section talks about introductory courses to a DH program, but I was interested in seeing whether Julie saw any benefit or need for an introductory DH course as a required part of a general education undergraduate curriculum, as part of a freshman comp course, and if so–what would she envision that course to entail or what would the deliverable portion of that course be? I understand that my question is both open ended, and could probably be broken into a few questions, but I found myself really thinking about those things for the rest of the book.

    In chapter 3, Professor Klein quotes Rafael Alvarado who claims that “The typical digital humanist…is a literary scholar, historian, or librarian,” and, based on the information Prof. Klein presents in the rest of the chapter, these fields seem to be where the most important DH work is happening. However, it seems to me, based on some of our reading thus far in the class, that scholars doing DH work in these fields have come to DH not because their field has prepared them for work in DH, but because of their own initiative. How can a field like English, which is itself already fairly interdisciplinary, best prepare its students for work in DH? Should English, a field concerned with the production and reception of texts, subsume DH, or should DH be a broad umbrella that covers all fields within the humanities?

    I’m going to simplify your work a little, so I apologize in advance. In chapter one, and elsewhere, you discuss disciplines as oscillating between being sites of stability and change. Disciplines provide a foundation for the development of tools, methods, knowledge, and professionalism, and at the same time disciplines host spaces that can be dynamic and fluctuating, spaces that transgress disciplinary boundaries. The issues of disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity (along with other frameworks you grapple with such as transdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity) are complex, multifactorial, and layered. In chapter three, on institutionalization of DH, I’m drawn to the idea of sustainability. Your work in this chapter details some of the histories, structures, and practices of a few DH centers (at Michigan State, Nebraska-Lincoln, Washington, Southern California, Oxford, and Toronto to name a few) as they have lived, breathed, and even died. The example that stands out the most to me is the nomadic model used at Advanced Communication Technology Lab in the University of Texas. The ACT lab highlights, I think, some of the tensions present in any drive to institutionalize (or “discipline”) a DH structure in terms of “place” and “space” (to invoke the terms of de Certeau). The ACT lab seems to advocate for intellectual, scholarly, and creative spaces through a nomadic turn away from place. In this chapter, I think the arc of your discussion seems to highlight the importance of contextual exigencies, available resources, and local communities of practice as important factors when discussing how any particular manifestation of DH is institutionalized — what might be called a kind of “Imma be me” (or no one-size-fits-all) approach to understanding the institutionalization of the DH. My question, then, probes how your work may be extended.

    The general question I have is how could visualizing different approaches to institutionalizing help us understand, question, or develop and sustain the DH? What would you think of projects that might begin by simply mapping the existence of DH centers, for example, and then begin to code them in different ways to try to surface patterns of institutionalization (or educating, or professionalizing)? How could such work help us understand better the diversity of local communities of practice, or to begin to question what models are most effective at institutionalizing, educating, professionalizing sustainably, or to make visible patterns or development in scholarly inquiry?

  2. Natty B, Corey, Sarah, Val

  3. This particular chapter address these sort of all-encompassing bid picture type questions. I would like to begin by flagging a quote that in my mind is both obvious and surprising for me personally. “In rhetoric and composition we view writing simultaneously as a tool and a theory…As Ramsay and Rockwell (2012) have argued is a fundamental goal of building a prototype.” (Ridolfo & Hart-Davidson 43). It has occurred to me that this overlap of writing being a tool and a theory offers both affordances as well as constraints in that when there is a problem to be addresses whiting this discipline, there is the ability to be able to utilize the tools writing has given us. At the same time we are restricted due to that very thing. That is to say, writing is both the solution as well as the problem. Which brings me to the following passage, “Writing is a complex activity, a fact accepted largely without argument throughout our discipline” (Ridolfo & Hart-Davidson 38). It goes without saying that what makes this even more complex is the digital element. It is essential that we continue to develop methods of pedagogy that are more and more complex to meet the needs of writing as well as the students. Hart-Davidson and Rodolfo articulated it in this way, “Though our field has developed increasingly sophisticated methods, frameworks, and models for such complicated work…” (Ridolfo & Hart-Davidson 40). What this chapter does not address is what all of this means for students in the digital composition classroom. The complex nature of writing as well as the fact that it is both a theory as well as a tool, offers pedagogue’s a particular challenge and opportunity to utilize different methodologies as well as pedagogical frameworks. Yet again this is all very obvious, however for some reason it was not so to me. I would like the move on to discussing productively understanding the digital humanities. Throughout my time in the master’s program it has been a particular challenge of creating a heuristic for understanding the digital humanities. However, I found Rodolfo and Hart-Davidson’s way of understand helpful. “In this way, it has been far more productive for us to understand DH as a situation brought into being through an encounter with a digital representation than as a territory to which one belongs.” (Ridolfo & Hart-Davidson 43). From my understanding of this passage, the digital humanities are a product of the digital environment rather than just a place where the humanities reside. My question here is how this does undressing of the DH as a byproduct of the digital environment change the way we understand the methodologies that are used in current pedagogies? Moreover, I enjoyed the inclusion of the big picture questions at the end of chapter three: “What I am trying to learn from this is about how writing works, how writers write, and how they learn to do it? What are the implications for writing instruction? (Ridolfo & Hart-Davidson 43). These are questions that I have for both this class as well as ones that I hope to further explore.

  4. Corey Hamilton
    Dr. Jeff Pruchnic
    Disciplines Response
    29 October 2015
    DH and the FYC
    Carter, Jones, and Hamcumpai (yes, I am quoting this just so I could say “Hamcumpai”) argue that “DH (Digital Humanities) offers rhetoric and composition rich avenues through which to ‘draw on the resources of many disciplines’ to answer our field’s key questions about writing and writers” (34). However, they caution, “not every approach to DH is equally compatible with these goals” (34). Carter et al. channel Bazerman when they assert, “It does not seem at all controversial to insist, as Bazerman does, that ‘an understanding of what writing is and does and how people learn to do it must draw on [the] hermeneutic and rhetorical disciplines of the humanities’” (38). In other words, I take Bazerman’s questions of “what writing is and does and how people learn to do it” to be the key questions to which the authors are referring.
    Douglas Walls reminds us of rhetoric’s mission and how it has been valued by other disciplines: “[W]hat institutions have always valued about rhetoric has been its educational mission to improve the praxis (theory and action) and gnosis (critical interpretation) of textual and oral production” (213). That is to say, our discipline’s value is its educational focus through teaching, fostering, and developing, strong critical thinkers, writers, and readers, as implied by Walls, I argue that this remain a crucial aspect.
    To that end, the authors claim that there is a cross-disciplinary “situation” created by DH as both situation and instrument mention rhetoric and composition specifically, via the aforementioned Bazerman. They also provide evidence of DH’s impact on rhetoric: “Of course, Shannon’s interests are shaped by the core commitments of rhetoric and composition and, more precisely, historically marginalized rhetors” (44). While that is fine, I am still left wondering how this interdisciplinarity is to more specifically affect the freshman first-year composition student and classroom. (Yes, I am not a complete moron, although I am still working on it, I do realize that they are talking about the “Field.” But, I would argue that Bazerman’s questions apply more to the composition classroom.) How might we imagine the composition classroom as benefitting from “interplay,” “interdisciplinarity,” and “digital trade routes” as affecting more specifically not only Bazerman’s question of writing and “how we learn to do it” but also “how we teach others to learn do it”?

  5. Many of the readings from this week seem to share a common concern: who will be leading the revolution of the digital humanities? What will this leadership look like, and how will it manifest to create a symbiotic relationship with other disciplines, including rhetoric studies? Walls suggests “seek[ing] to add value to each other’s conversations rather than to take resources from each other or to bend others to our way of doing things” (217). One way to assuage tension between disciplines is to create a position for sustainable leadership to enforce reciprocity and listening. Going unsaid is that this leader will be educated in multiple disciplines as well as the digital humanities; often what goes overlooked, however, is a person’s training in leadership. How will this individual or group of individuals create national awareness or work with groups? Many universities have taken it upon themselves to start awareness and conventions for the Digital Humanities. How do other universities learn to develop leadership prowess?

    Another issue is validation. How does the Digital Humanities retain professionals if “the salary level for the director of the Seed Lab, at 45,000- 60,000, was below the magnitude of desired qualifications” (Klein). This lack of funding for a director in a Digital Humanities center creates animosity between DH and other higher paying disciplines. When leadership is concerned, more than one frontrunner is necessary to create an inspiring and cohesive DH center, enforcing “collective work…to channel…energies into sustainable programs” (Klein). Even if a university manages to fund a DH leadership position or more than one position, arguments about what constitutes this field–or even how to teach it–leaves everyone stuck in a quagmire. As walls asserts, “DH has yet to settle on the nature or terms of its own instability long enough to establish a pedagogical stance” (219).

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