MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015: AMST Colloquiums: The Digital Turn



[This past weekend, we held the fifth annual New England American Studies Association (NEASA) Colloquium. So this week I’ll share some responses to each of the five colloquia to date, leading up to a special weekend post on AmericanStudies in 2015!]
On two impressive kinds of digital humanities work shared at the 2014 Colloquium, and one more I’d add into that mix.
1)      A Career in DH: Salem State University’s Professor Roopika Risam, one of the founders of the Postcolonial Digital Humanities site and a DH pioneer in every sense, spoke at the colloquium about the challenges and opportunities of a career in the Digital Humanities. Along with Northeastern University’s Ryan Cordell (who shared similar perspectives at the Fall 2012 NEASA Conference in Providence) and others, Roopika exemplifies the possibilities of the Digital Humanities on every academic level—in teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students, in preparing future educators and strengthening current ones, in producing scholarly work, in building community, and more.
2)      A Model DH Project: Dartmouth University’s Professor Ivy Schweitzer spoke at the colloquium on a hugely impressive DH project, the digital edition The Occom Circle, a website on the life and work of 18th century Mohegan writer and activist Samson Occom. Ivy has worked on the project for more than three years, with support from the NEH and Dartmouth as well as student and faculty collaborators. But make no mistake, this project has been Ivy’s at every step, and represents a true labor of love (as well as skill and knowledge and research and a very worthy and significant subject). Like the DH projects on which my Dad Stephen Railton has worked for years and continues to work today, Ivy’s Circle models both the work required to create such a DH project and the immense payoffs (for everyone) of putting in that work.
3)      Pre-Conference Blogging: In a much smaller and more communal way, I tried for a few years to help bring a digital component to NEASA, and particularly to its annual conference. That component took the form of a pre-conference blog, a space in which conference presenters, participants, and all other interested parties could share and discuss their upcoming talks and panels, as well as all related ideas and questions. I’m not sure if the blog will continue—and NEASA has begun to expand to social media in other important ways in any case—but I would certainly make the case for such digital elements to conferences; I believe that the three conferences for which we ran the pre-conference blog, as well as NEASA overall, were enriched by these digital conversations and communities.
Last follow up tomorrow,
Ben
PS. What do you think? Digital projects (AMST or otherwise) you’d highlight?

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