It’s that time of year again. In a few short weeks, we’ll be converging in Chicago for the American Studies Association Annual Meeting. On behalf of the ASA Digital Humanities Caucus, I’d like to present our annual Digital Panels list, which brings together those panels engaging with digital technologies, digital media, digital pedagogies, and digital culture in American Studies.
Many, many thanks to my wonderful student assistant, Dylan McCarthy, who did much of the work in gathering these panels together. If you don’t see your panel included here but would like it to be added, please email me at amanda dot phillips at georgetown dot edu.
For those of you who have digital projects at any stage of completion, the DH Caucus is hosting a lightning talks session on Saturday, November 11, from 11-12:45. Please join us in sharing your work and seeing the wide range of DH projects under way in American Studies. Sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/Z8dBCWAp3irgYkiI2
Hope to see you soon!
Image credit: Mariano Mantel, “Chicago.” Licensed under CC BY-N.C. 2.0. Available on Flickr.
Thursday November 9
Stories of Dissent: Rereading #Ferguson
Thu, November 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey, Concourse Level West Tower
In the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting in August 2014, protests erupted on the streets of Ferguson, in cities across the country, and on social media, an increasingly popular space for digital dissent. Though the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” was first coined by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in July 2013, only after Brown’s death did it gain significant traction, revealing a rapidly developing relationship between social media and racial justice that provided new platforms for expression, political organization, counternarratives, and conversations about systemic racism.
Social media data from this time period provides a rich document of this historical moment through the diverse perspective of thousands upon thousands of people. Thanks to quick-thinking archival efforts, from projects such as Documenting the Now, much of this data has been captured and collected. But data, as N. Katherine Hayles has argued, is “helpless to interpret or explain” itself. In this spirit, our interdisciplinary panel hopes to tease out the many conflicting and converging narratives within #Ferguson social media data from the diverse methodological approaches of social work, communication studies, journalism, literature, and history. This panel will be a roundtable dialogue between Sarah Jackson, Desmond Patton, Meredith Clark, and Melanie Walsh —scholars from these varying fields who have all worked at the intersections of social media, race, and dissent—that will explore such questions as: What are the gaps and overlaps between these methodological approaches? How do large-scale computational tools play into qualitative, humanistic research? How can we ethically build and preserve digital archives of potentially vulnerable communities? What political and ethical obligations do we have to these communities and their causes?
This panel hopes to better understand #Ferguson, as both a locally situated and globally consequential event, and to explore the continued significance of social media as a platform for, and response to, political protest.
Climates of Dissent: Media Ecologies as Oppositional Pedagogy
Thu, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, San Francisco, Ballroom Level West Tower
The political logic of dissent and resistance, as well as its accompanying pedagogy, often takes the form of an additive or discrete model, one that pinpoints singular critical, aesthetic, and discursive strategies belonging to dissent or transgression, and similarly unitary agencies as the wellspring of protest and critique. From this stance, teaching toward dissent is an operation of critical unmasking, the revelation of an underlying truth made visible by the scalpel of critique, the truth stripped bare of its mediations. As cogent and important as this critical and pedagogical legacy may be, it reinforces an atomistic and exclusionary understanding of protest and resistance, and the critical epistemology said to underlie it. This panel argues through disparate examples for a wildly expanded field of dissent, one that is best characterized as an ecology, and beyond that, as a mediated ecology where the various media —print, image, sound, digital, IRL event—intertwine, coalesce, and make of dissent or critique something as systemic, as mediated, as performative, and as contextual as are those forces dissent seeks to unravel. To think of and also to feel dissent as an aggregation, a dynamic and affective amalgam, is to construe dissent, protest, and resistance as an ecological commons, as an infrastructure–not simply a “structure”– of feeling, as a mediated collective body, where temporal and spatial context is everything. In such a contextual ecology, pedagogy is neither separate nor added on, but rather integral and immanent, and pedagogy is as much a matter of emotion as of thought.
Reinventing the Black Literary
Thu, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Dusable, Third Floor West Tower
Distance and Dissidence: Revisiting the Politics of Location in the Online Classroom
Thu, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Wright, Third Floor West Tower
This alternative workshop session invites participants to create, critique, and collaborate on dissident pedagogy in the online classroom, an increasingly expanding yet problematic site of U.S. academic institutions. It asks: How is (and isn’t) distance education or online learning a dissident pedagogical site in American academe? What are the challenges and the possibilities that the online platform poses for the praxis of dissident pedagogy?
Recent studies (Kizilcec et al.) have shown that online pedagogy is not necessarily a democratizing influence but can magnify achievement gaps between those at the periphery and those at the center. Given the increasing demand by students and administrators for online classes, we examine how online teaching can become the occasion for dissident praxis. Centered in the U.S. academy but with global reach, online pedagogy must, as Chandra Mohanty warns, “involve the development of critical knowledge” as well as “critique knowledge itself” (195). We revisit Mohanty’s ideas in light of Adrienne Rich’s politics of location to consider online learning as a type of knowledge that opens potentially dissident spaces within the U.S. academy.
On the one hand, online learning can give an advantage to students skilled in American English, familiar with U.S. academic modes of learning, and with access to computers and reliable Internet. Additionally, it can impose normalizing routines, contribute to the dehumanization of the student-teacher and student-student relationship, promote unidirectional work through prescribed learning management systems, and, to borrow Mohanty’s words “manage and discipline pedagogies” (201). On the other hand, online learning can also be a space that rethinks the presence of body narratives, lends agency to identity production, and promotes relational experiences that value diversity and understanding, not simply empathy and difference. Online sites, moreover, can counteract stereotype threats, preconceptions that Claude Steele argues hinder performance and contribute to achievement gaps between those at elite U.S. academies and members of minority groups, women, students with disabilities, and those located outside the United States.
This workshop thus invites discussion and collaboration to consider methods and means for locating the praxis of dissident pedagogy in online sites.
Prior to the convention, we will collect and crowdsource ideas, texts, and tools related to dissidence and online pedagogy. Echoing #fergusonsyllabus, we encourage participants to contribute through an open Google folder: http://bit.ly/2kXTdWi and/or tweet through #teachdissidence to @teachdissidence.
At the workshop, we will introduce ourselves and the aims of the workshop (10 minutes), offer brief presentations to showcase online learning projects we have created or curated, and focus on three components of dissident pedagogical praxis: curriculum content and design, tools, and access (30 minutes).
We will follow this presentation with a collaborative session on implementing dissident pedagogy and invite participants to consider the politics of location in designing research projects for their courses (50 minutes).
Participants will leave with both ideas and tools to use the online learning experience to open up alternative means of information gathering, exchange of ideas, and production of knowledge (15 minutes).
Designing Dissent: A Roundtable on Design Pedagogy and the Culture of Resistance
Thu, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Gold Coast, Concourse Level West Tower
Design and design culture is taught at hundreds of art and design programs around the country. However, this pedagogy, is still very much based in and around the formalist notions of the Bauhaus and Modernism. The Bauhaus was a German design school founded by Walter Gropius. The space existed from 1919 to 1933. Despite it’s relatively short existence, the school transformed how the world saw the designed object. In fact, it’s name is almost synonymous with the Modernist movement; echoing it’s ideas around form and function in design pedagogy and practice. When a number of Bauhaus instructors fled Germany to escape the Nazi threat, a great deal of them ended up in America and helped influence the teaching of the practice of design in our country.
For as wonderful as the school was, it’s teachings are not enough. It’s practices fail in the chaos of the information age. Design now has a system of new problems to solve and the formalist ideas around what design can be has to shift to accommodate. There new audiences to consider, new communication issues, and new methods of critical making. Traditional and non-inclusive notions of design cannot function in our hyper-postmodern world. The role of the designer has to expand and how we teach those designers has to mutate and change as well.
Design, like many other practices has been totally privatized and colonized by corporate interests and neoliberal enterprises that have taken it away from the masses. The idea that
“good design is for everyone” is now just that: an idea. In practice, design is an elitist space that creates disposable unsustainable systems, objects, and propaganda that seem to do little more than promote the next wave of unsustainable systems, objects and propaganda.
We live in the age of Black Lives Matter, the Prison Industrial Complex, a violent anti-womanist society, and rapidly depleting resources on an increasingly warming planet. How can design as an epistemology and area of practice begin to unravel the complex problems that we find ourselves faced with? We need a dangerous and dissenting cadre of designers and design teachers to combat a tumultuous world. Design’s well-formed fingers must now make a fist.
The round table that we are proposing would tackle issues around race and design, sustainable design practices, alternative modes of community organizing around design, speculative design, and design practices that privilege other voices in the design profession. It will deal with the increasing need to encourage myriad approaches to cultural production, diversity, cooperation, and experimental pedagogies to deal with a quickly shifting communication sphere that our design education system is ill-equipped to properly address.
Thu, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Horner, Third Floor West Tower
Radical Imaginations and the Recursion of 1970s-1990s Feminist and Queer of Color Literary and Visual Cultures in the Present
Thu, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
In a time of intensified repression and popular resistance, this panel looks back to look forward. We ask: What do queer and feminist cultural productions and grassroots social movements of the 1970s-1990s teach us today about dissent? Jodi Melamed (2011) argues that the postwar U.S. state managed dissent by first consolidating anti-racist and decolonizing radical movements into an ethos of racial liberalism, followed by 1980s-1990s liberal multiculturalism, and, by the 2000s, neoliberal multiculturalism. She also identified “race radical” traditions, including key women of color feminist cultural producers, who challenged the terms of U.S. state representation, racial capitalism, and its violences. This panel tracks the U.S. state’s attempts to dismantle radical social movements during the 1970s, which subsequently dovetailed with liberal multiculturalism during the 1980s-1990s. Meanwhile, the papers examine the varying radical imaginations that informed cultures of resistance against the U.S. state’s management of representations and social movements, specifically exploring the decolonizing potential of anti-racist, feminist, and queer art, literature, media, and action, during the same period.
Today’s scholars and activists are returning to the period of the 1970s-1990s to consider the oppressive forces that have managed dissent, but also the anti-racist feminist, queer, and decolonizing strategies for building coalition and resisting ultra-conservative regimes through the uses of culture. This panel reads these “cultural” works as pedagogical sites of resistance, asking how we can draw from them in the here and now. Addressing formulations of anti-racism and anti-imperialism in queer and feminist social movements, we turn to cultural productions to locate radical imaginations that cross the divisions of social and national borders–including the racialized and gendered bodies and geographies of militarization, AIDS, U.S. imperial incursions, the expansion of prisons, and revolutionary movements. This panel addresses how these borders are traversed specifically through public demonstrations and other political events, as well as literature, poetry, film, and visual culture, and the feminist and queer collectives that organized through and around them. We focus on late-twentieth-century formations of international solidarities–bridged through anti-racist, feminist, and queer writing, media, and activisms–that forward the radical demands of socialism and revolutionary anti-colonialism, linking decolonization efforts across an array of local and regional freedom movements (Sandoval 1991 and 2000, Thompson 2002, Edwards 2003, Ferguson 2004, Hong 2006, Hong and Ferguson 2011). In turn, this panel considers how cultural production and activist practices become intertwined modes for teaching and learning about protest, and building cultures of resistance, through historical and contemporary engagements with poetry, literature, and works of media. By historicizing women of color work and related feminist and queer organizing, and their literary and visual cultures–particularly creative works by Black feminist, Indigenous, “Third World,” white anti-imperialist feminist, and queer activists in response to the AIDS crisis and to international calls for anti-imperialist solidarities–this panel seeks to renew dialogue on the potential of feminism, and to queer the radical imaginations that connect the personal, private, and intimate with public and collective dissent.
Pedagogies of (Resistance to) Neoliberalism
Thu, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, McCormick, Third Floor West Tower
Program Committee: Technologies of Dissent: A Workshop on Organized Resistance in the Digital Age
Thu, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey, Concourse Level West Tower
From social media mobilization to digital direct action campaigns, network technology has generated a dazzling array of possibilities and problems for activists working on myriad issues across the globe. This workshop draws together a diverse group of activists, academics, and artists to provide both an analysis of the shifting terrain of activism in the digital age and practical information and training in new technologies and techniques of dissent. In particular, panelists will consider: how to use social media to map dissent and build local assemblages of resistance; how to ensure that multiple voices are embraced online, including those of youth activists; how to utilize performance and theater-style frames in digitally-networked activism; how to use world-building strategies to fashion immersive social justice experiences and environments offline; and how to prepare for becoming ‘digitally public’ in light of high-profile cases of virulent cyber harassment of (mostly female) online activists. In addition to a chance to learn new skills, the workshop will provide a forum to share ideas and interact with workshop leaders and other participants around technology-based activism that bridges not only online and offline spaces, but also the gap between the classroom and the public sphere beyond it.
Disrupting DH, Dissident DH
Thu, November 9, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
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.
Activist Archives and Digital Pedagogy
Thu, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey, Concourse Level West Tower
This dialogue panel brings together five community-engaged scholars working at the intersections of American studies, activist archives, digital humanities, and anti-racist/anti-oppression pedagogies. All of us are engaged with various communities’ grassroots efforts to document and and intervene into minority histories that lie outside of mainstream narratives. In our community-based projects, our teaching and learning exchanges unfold in the context of both anti-oppression political engagement and a commitment to maker pedagogy. We work in collaboration with students, artists, archivists, and activists in radical projects designed to intervene in dominant discourses about the past, laying the groundwork for the making of new histories as a foundation for an anti-fascist future. In a contemporary political environment where White House spokespeople posit the veracity of “alternative facts,” archives matter more than ever—but they are clearly not enough. Our panel will discuss, among other questions: what does radical archival intervention mean today, given the Trump ascendancy? What roles can we, and our students, play in building liberatory archival imaginaries?
The panel brings together a variety of community-engaged activist projects. Bergis Jules (Archives, UC Riverside) will discuss the social media archiving project for which he is co-investigator, Documenting the Now:(http://www.docnow.io/). The project’s goal is to document and preserve socal media use by contemporary social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, as a strategy in decolonizing the internet archive. Michelle Caswell (Information studies, UCLA) will discuss the project that she co-founded with Samip Mallick: the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA, http://www.saadigitalarchive.org). This community-based archive now holds the world’s largest collection of digitzed materials relating to South Asian American history. Michelle has spent a decade documenting social movements as they happen, building participatory systems that empower marginalized communities, and encouraging the use of archival materials to inspire contemporary activism. Thy Phy (English, Western University) will present on the Family Camera Network, for which she is PI. This public archive project collects both family photographs and oral histories about them, with a focus on visual histories of migration, dislocation, and diasporic subjectivity, especially within Black and Asian communities. Elspeth Brown (History, University of Toronto) will discuss her work as the PI of the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, a partnership concerned with collecting and digitizing oral histories, especially from trans communities. She will focus on her political work with students and volunteers at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in shifting this 40+ year “liberation” archive to an anti-racist, anti-oppression framework. Cathy Gudis (moderator and presenter; History, UC Riverside) will discuss artists’ use of archives to intervene in structural inequalities in the in the public sphere. Projects include the Los Angeles Poverty Department, which uses performative strategies on the streets of Skid Row to remix the archival record; sound installations in California state parks that “people the park” with those who have been marginalized from them; and a poetry-audio project, drawn directly from state archival records, that brings to life the voices of incarcerated youth.
Business Meeting: Digital Humanities Caucus
Thu, November 9, 4:00 to 7:00pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Picasso, Concourse Level West Tower
Friday November 10
Black Death: Past & Present
Fri, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Addams, Third Floor West Tower
A Diversity Taboo
Fri, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Burnham, Third Floor West Tower
Colored Conventions in the Nineteenth Century and the Digital Age
Fri, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
During the nineteenth century, tens of thousands of Black delegates met at state and national “Colored Conventions” to advocate for educational justice, labor and voting rights, and to organize against slavery; when it continuously seemed as if this country could never embrace full and equal rights for racial groups they enslaved, exploited and oppressed, they debated plans for emigration to Canada, the Caribbean and West Africa. These meetings, which began in 1830 and passed from both delegates to their communities and from one generation to another for nearly seventy years, were both acts and pedagogies of resistance and dissent. Unlike the abolitionist and antislavery movements and the Underground Railroad, the Black-led Colored Conventions Movement has remained largely outside of popular and even scholarly narratives until the launching of ColoredConventions.org which makes the proceedings of more than a hundred and fifty meetings available and fully searchable for the first time. Embracing a collective ethos that mirrors the organizing it recovers, the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) has created a distributed model of bringing this record of 19th-century dissent to digital life through pedagogy. Its national teaching partners, two of which are on this panel, partner with CCP to engage students in research that resists dominant racial, gendered and geographic narratives of 19C organizing for Black rights to create digital exhibits that bring those stories to digital life for a range of viewers both within and outside of the Academy.
The Colored Conventions provide a window into the history of nineteenth-century black political activism, highlighting topics such as black agency, leadership, and organizational power. Moreover, the conversations present in these convention proceedings demonstrate a clear link between nineteenth-century history and current sociopolitical discourse.
This panel focuses on CCP’s digital archive and its commitment to social justice activism. It centers on the following questions: What possibilities does digital history offer to overturn traditional epistemologies and carve out new spaces of rebellion and dissent? In ways do these new methodologies facilitate the creation of new spaces for learning and teaching that allow us to move beyond the traditional boundaries of the classroom as we reach new audiences?
We propose to highlight how digital projects like CCP operate at the intersection of research, teaching, and public engagement using collective processes of pedagogical and public engagement to decolonize archives to reach new audiences and increase participation in the process of writing new historical narratives. In particular, the papers on this panel demonstrate how scholars and students have contributed to and used the project’s digital archive to write new histories about nineteenth-century black political activism addressing a range of topics including the black press, Henry Highland Garnet’s “Address to the Slaves,” and black boardinghouses. In organizing this panel, we hope to explore critical curation and highlight how we can use digital technologies to construct and reorganize archives in order to better represent those outside of the traditional record through new modes of presentation including exhibits and interactive data visualizations.
On the Responsibility to Truth
Fri, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, McCormick, Third Floor West Tower
Digital Humanities Caucus: Sustaining Dissent in the Digital Humanities
Fri, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
In “The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses,” Stefano Harney and Fred Moten declare: “One can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of—this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.” Digital humanists have long snuck around the periphery of humanities programs, working tirelessly on digital projects that achieve widespread public attention yet receive little or no credit toward tenure and promotion. More recently, digital humanities positions have become on trend, favored and highlighted by university power structures. Yet this newfound legitimation has predominantly benefited non-contingent faculty at resource-rich institutions while marginalizing work that challenged the political commitments that have shored up the modern university. American studies scholars, who have championed critical scholarship in the digital humanities, now have to contend with this new status in the higher education landscape. Are we still sneaking into the university and stealing what we can? If we able to enter through the front door and take our figurative seat at the table, then what are we doing with it?
Contemporary geographies of dissent at the intersection of American studies scholarship and the digital humanities interrogate conditions surrounding professionalization, promotion, funding, labor, mentoring, training, and teaching—issues central to the relationship between critical scholarship and the university. Although diverse institutions across the higher education landscape are adding digital positions—often double-billed as “diversity” hires—appointments are often postdocs and other limited-term or contingent positions, double dipping digital and difference with no path to longer-term job security. As technological access and agency have been steeped in whiteness, gendered inequality, and heteronormativity, digital humanists who engage with non-normative bodies, B-side histories, and community engagement have difficulties making our work legible, fundable, and sustainable. In addition, the structures that fund digital scholarship at all but the most elite institutions generally do not consider the sustainability of the computing infrastructures that support digital projects, imperiling the legacy of the critical work produced by digital humanists outside of these hubs of modern university power. How do we continue to engage in and sustain digital, publicly engaged, American studies research and scholarship under these circumstances?
This panel brings together scholars whose work includes theory and practice in American Studies and digital humanities. During the first part of this roundtable panelists will present short position statements, critique, provocations, and conversations. We will open the second half of the roundtable for audience participation and a broader discussion of sustaining dissent and cultivating survival within digital projects.
Viola Lasmana, University of Southern California, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Digital Humanities
Angel David Nieves, Associate Professor at Hamilton College and Director of the American Studies and Cinema & Media Studies Programs
Miriam Posner, Digital Humanities program coordinator and a member of the core DH faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles
Jennifer Shook is Postdoctoral Fellow, Mellon-funded Digital Bridges in Humanistic Inquiry at Grinnell College
Jesse P. Karlsberg, Senior Digital Scholarship Strategist at Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship
Latinx Pacific Archive: Alexandrina Agloro, Futurist for the LPA and Assistant Professor of Interactive Media and Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Digital Humanities Caucus: Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice: Scholarly Digital Publishing in American Studies
Fri, November 10, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
In June 1999, American Quarterly published an experimental online issue and concurrent print symposium combining “hypertext and American studies scholarship.” The project, wrote editor Roy Rosenzweig, “tried to bring together something rather old-fashioned and established—the scholarly journal article—with something new and still emerging—the networked and digital space of the World Wide Web.” Nearly two decades later, American studies scholars continue to examine the possibilities of digital tools, methods, platforms, and environments as well as the place of an expanded digital humanities in the formation of central themes and areas of inquiry within contemporary American studies.
Today, American studies scholars work within an increasingly expansive yet still emerging set of modalities for the publication of digital humanities scholarship. While Rosenzweig, near twenty years ago, could approach digital innovation through the single then-significant lens of online presentation via hypertext, the variety of methods, tools, and topics associated with a critically engaged digital humanities practice has multiplied exponentially. In March 2016, American Quarterly introduced a new recurring feature, “Digital Project Reviews,” to examine this growing diversity. As noted by the section’s then co-editors, “Digital humanities (DH) is, at last, in a condition to be criticized.” Soon after, American Quarterly announced its 2018 special issue,“Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice: American Studies and the Digital Humanities,” which will feature significant—and significantly varied—content presented in digital form.
This practice-based session begins with a series of lightning talks by a group of scholars involved in current publishing initiatives at the intersection of digital humanities and American studies, building on the recent and forthcoming work for American Quarterly as well as an array of hybrid or fully digital publication venues, more or less traditional. Significant time will also be allotted for follow-up open discussion among attendees. Presenters involved in digital publishing across various roles (editor, author, reviewer, designer, programmer), genres (article, blog, book, database, collection), and platforms (XML, GIS, Scalar, GitHub, Omeka/Omeka S, digital commons, etc.) will each focus on an important question of implementation in scholarly digital publishing, ranging from theoretical to practical: What sort of project merits, even requires, a digital presentation? What are the current alternatives for presenting critically engaged scholarship in non-linear or non-narrative forms? How can digital scholarly work best be incorporated into existing publications or publication models? How can individual scholars best negotiate this rapidly shifting landscape?
The hosts of this session are among the co-editors of the American Quarterly’s special issue, but invited lightning talk presenters will draw from a larger group of practitioners who have worked in and with digital scholarly publishing in a critically engaged American studies context. Together, speakers and attendees will be explore present practice alongside the significant challenges that still exist as we work toward a sophisticated yet versatile, image- and data-rich, interactive digital publishing environment for digital humanities in American studies—one that offers scholarly depth, methodological and theoretical diversity, broad access to scholarly work across populations, and long-term sustainability.
Transgressive Borders: Scholarship Meets Teaching in the Digital Humanities
Fri, November 10, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
Digital forms are transforming the kinds of scholarship produced by American Studies and bringing about new methods of teaching and collaboration. The shift is challenging what we teach, how we structure the classroom, and the boundaries between the classroom and scholarship. Yet, these changes are not always welcomed, acknowledged, or rewarded. The roundtable will explore these issues along with the challenges of moving between the teacher/student/advisor relationship and collaborators, labor and compensation, and (often uneven) institutional resources. Each member of the roundtable will discuss these topics through the lens of their collaborative digital scholarship.
Through a case study of two recent curriculum development projects, Nicole Sintetos considers the ways in which research can be adapted to reach high school and middle school audiences through digital publishing platforms. “The Life of Jovita Idar” is a multi-day lesson plan crafted in conversation with Mapping Violence, a larger publicly-facing project that commemorates a period of widespread racial violence on the Texas-Mexico border. Similarly, “Japanese American Incarceration and the Classroom” is a high school curriculum on Japanese internment designed in partnership with Brown University’s Choices Program, a non-profit organization that develops curricula. Both projects introduce silenced histories and offer a model for collaborative curriculum design that unites high school educators, scholars, and education design specialists for the study of oral history, memory studies, ethnic studies, and GIS mapping within K-12 classrooms.
Lauren Tilton will discuss Photogrammar (photogrammar.yale.edu), a digital and public project that maps federal photographs and life histories from the Great Depression and World War II. She will address (a) working within an institution when it is initially hesitant to support or acknowledge digital scholarship and teaching; (b) the challenges of managing a project as a graduate student and then faculty member; (c ) negotiating a multi-institutional collaboration; and (d) strategies for sustainability and funding in an increasingly precarious humanities funding environment. She will be accompanied by Emeline Blevins, a University of Richmond student researcher involved with Photogrammar, who will discuss how digital pedagogy impact her learning and scholarship in a liberal arts setting.
Jeremy Boggs will discuss Take Back the Archive (takeback.scholarslab.org), a digital archive on sexual violence at the University of Virginia. The archive is an intervention to address community and institutional ignorance about sexual violence, with materials dating back 150 years. Boggs will address decisions about technology, design and development, metadata, and data collection, all of which intersect in ways to support conscientious dissent in digital forms.
In order to facilitate a conversation not limited to the roundtable, we will begin with a brief introduction of each project. Moderator Lauren Tilton will pose questions to the group based on our themes. We will then open up the conversation to the audience. The roundtable is comprised of people in the following categories – faculty, staff, and student – in order to bring the composition of the roundtable in line with the labor composition of digital humanities work.
Dissenting Audiences: Networked Pedagogies of Race, Gender, and Labor in Digital Media
Fri, November 10, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
This panel brings together scholars of race and gender in media and culture to explore the practices of knowledge production that emerge from digital engagement with the politics of representation. Moving beyond a critique of ‘positive images’ discourse, we investigate how the networked publics that surround media industries develop pedagogies for understanding how racialized gender is produced in and through media production and consumption. How do fans challenge and refuse dominant framings of minority representation, and how do producers seek to incorporate such dissent? How can alternative circuits of production and consumption intervene to provide new pleasures, new politics?
Such inquiry is particularly urgent in the contemporary era, as media and politics continue to converge. As digital platforms have grown dominant, questions of who is included in media production and consumption become ever more salient. Avoiding simplified frameworks that would celebrate the democratizing force of social media or castigate the loss of shared norms regarding prestige and reliability, this panel homes in on specific case studies that highlight what scholars can learn from the ways that communities of creators and consumers respond to shifting media forms and politics.The papers draw from multiple perspectives: industrial production and independent production, internal debates within communities organized around consumption, and contestations between audiences and industry. Across the four presentations, intersections of race, gender, and sexuality come to the fore in ways that highlight the significance of networked media audiences as site of cultural contestation over equity, justice, and inclusion – from producers’ effort to employ a pedagogy of compliance in the face of fan protest over racist and sexist harassment, to intense labor by fans of color to teach their white counterparts better understandings of race, to the radical possibilities enabled by a queer of color approach to digital TV distribution.
The first panelist, Mel Stanfill, looks to emerging norms of popular culture engagement in the digital era, arguing that producers have used the language of “entitlement” to shut down fans’ emerging critiques. Alexis Lothian turns to the genealogy of media fans’ critiques of racism, arguing that an especially explosive debate in 2009 set the scene for influential frameworks of social justice in networked publics. Fiona Barnett suggests that the algorithms currently used to explain and determine knowledge are relying on notions of legibility and visibility and can act as sites of resistance. Finally, Aymar Jean Christian turns to media production as a creative practice of dissent from dominant industrial frameworks.
A Pale Vision of a Violent Past? Teaching about American Lynching with Technology in the Undergraduate Classroom
Fri, November 10, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Horner, Third Floor West Tower
Faced with a decades-long campaign by a variety of journalists, activists, and eventually, politicians, the once commonplace practice of mob lynching began to peter out some three quarters of a century ago. In the years since, lynching’s specter has been evoked rhetorically in every conceivable area of American social and political life, while its spectacular violence has likewise continued apace, though usually without the appellation “lynching” attached to it. This panel will discuss the implications of teaching about lynching in an era where the intensity of media attention to the killings of African Americans is rivaled by journalistic forebears of a century ago, and the threat of bodily harm and death to black people is likewise omnipresent. Focusing on the experience of each of the presenters in teaching histories of lynching and racial violence to undergraduate students, this panel will both present student research on racial violence and reflect on the meaning of pedagogies invested in better understanding and contextualizing America’s historical and contemporary entanglements in racial violence and death.
Saturday, November 11
Margaret Fuller’s Politics of Dissent
Sat, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Burnham, Third Floor West Tower
Proposal for a round-table (Dialogue Format) titled: “Margaret Fuller’s Politics of Dissent”
In the light of this year’s theme, “Pedagogies of Dissent”, for ASA 2017 we would like to propose a round-table on the conjuncture of politics, intellectual activity, and education in the work of Margaret Fuller and some of her friends and collaborators (especially Giuseppe Mazzini and Cristina di Belgiojoso) in the revolutionary Europe of the 1840s.
Centering the roundtable on our collaborative, multilingual Digital Humanities project, the Margaret Fuller Transnational Archive, we would like to address the intellectual genealogies of revolutionary thought. These intellectual networks of exchange became visible in our research and in the construction of the archive. By portraying networks and clusters of publications involving Margaret Fuller and some of her correspondents in Europe, the archive helps to uncover how the intellectual militancy of these public figures was deeply invested in creating oppositional pedagogies. We will concentrate on specific articles published in the People’s Journal (London) in 1847 and in the New York Tribune in 1847-50, to reflect on educational models outside of well established educational institutions, such as, for example, Mazzini’s evening school for Italian boys founded in London in 1841, as well as Fuller’s observation that educational opportunities in England are increasingly “extended to girls,” as she writes, they “ought to be.”
While focusing on Fuller’s role in the exchange and circulation of revolutionary theory in mid-nineteenth-century Europe, we also aim to engage with Fuller’s transformation of genre-conventions in her letters to the Tribune. In particular, we will be examining Fuller’s breaking with the conventions of travel-writing and with the politics and aesthetics of landscape- writing in her accounts of travelling through Europe. In so doing, it is possible to consider Fuller a forerunner to the genre that would come to be called literary journalism.
We also intend to discuss different possibilities offered by digital platforms and archives, since the digital format is ideally suited to document, map, and visualize the scope and significance of networks across politically contested space and through time. Added to this, the digital platform decentralizes modern scholarship, reaching scholars who work in the U.S. and in Europe, as well as elsewhere. By using the collaborative and inclusive nature of our project (a transnational archive where scholars from different countries, and at different stages of their career work together), we would also like to engage in new models of political pedagogies, outside of national borders and institutional limitations.
Beyond Childhood: Teaching with Bikes, Bubblegum Cards, and Toys
Sat, November 11, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Horner, Third Floor West Tower
Session Submission Type: Constructed Paper Session
Digital Humanities Caucus: Digital Shorts
Sat, November 11, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
The Digital Humanities Caucus proposes an open roundtable session of five-minute “lightning talks” calling on conference attendees to present their newest digital projects, updates on digital works in progress, or related digital work. This innovative format creates an open space for all to contribute and collaborate, and it has been a successful feature of the DH Caucus sponsored panel lineup for many years.
We will circulate a call for participants (via Twitter, H-AmStdy, the ASA website, and various email lists) before the conference. Once we have a lineup, we will organize the presentations into a logical progression, prepare a handout with the list of projects and presenter information to share with attendees, and allow for additional presentations from the floor. In recent years, presentations by some twenty participants have prompted conversations extending well beyond the formal session. Presenters range from senior faculty to new graduate students covering a range of topics and projects including digital archiving, data mapping, pedagogy, online publication, public history, digital social justice, and digital humanities tools.
The conveners of the session will work hard to ensure that the presenters are representative both of the ASA’s membership and of the breadth of digital projects currently in progress. Although any project is welcome to the podium, we plan to focus our call this year on projects that engage the conference’s theme of “Pedagogies of Dissent.” While DH has always had a strong emphasis on the pedagogical uses of technology, its application within the American Studies community takes on a particularly activist edge. ASA generated #transformDH, saw the wider development of QueerOS, and generally facilitates the energy of groups dedicated to turning DH toward social justice and radical dissent. We hope to tap into this energy with our open call.
Session conveners will moderate the session, enforcing a five minute maximum for all presentations, reserving time for discussion of issues the presentations raise, and facilitating that discussion at the end of the session. We will claim a hashtag to encourage online discussions during and after the panel session and conference.
This session’s lightning talk format incorporates elements central to digital humanities practice, from a Web 2.0 “wisdom of the crowd” sensibility, to the quickly changing nature of digital projects which don’t lend themselves to the ASA’s longer time-line for paper proposals. This model for scholarly communication offers the field of American studies new opportunities for forging from-the-bottom-up ways of making knowledge.
Refusing Settler Colonial Pedagogies of Place
Sat, November 11, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Haymarket, Concourse Level West Tower
Each presenter on this panel offers a critique of settler imaginaries of land and the processes of mapping as articulations of colonial power. In her paper, “Indian Queens and Virgin Land: Settler Imaginaries of Ho-Chunk People and Indigenous Places,” Angel Hinzo focuses on an 18th century record of Ho-Chunk peoples and their land written by the British American military Captain Jonathan Carver. Dr. Hinzo discusses Carver’s description of the Ho-Chunk leader Ho-Poe-Kaw as an “Indian queen” and discusses how this characterization was foundational to the contemporary stereotype of the Indian princess. Hinzo argues that the development of the settler fantasy of the Indian princess coupled with Carver’s narrative about fertile wilderness facilitated the dispossession of Ho-Chunk women of land and social/political power. In Sarah Montoya’s paper, “(Do No) Evil Empire: Google, Colonial Cartographies, and Indigenous Resistance,” she discusses the relationship between colonization and cyberspace by performing a critical reading of the negative consequences of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). As her title implies, Montoya argues that Google is an expanding empire that follows a similar pattern of conquest as the United States. Montoya argues that using Indigenous methodologies could intervene in the violent process of digital mapping and offer new approaches.
In her paper, “Remapping Native Relationships to Land and Undermining the Prison Industrial Complex,” Stephanie Lumsden argues that remapping Native relationships to land is a viable tactic for thwarting settler colonialism and undermining the prison industrial complex. In order to make this argument she builds on the existing critical work of cartography as a technology of colonial violence and argues that mapping is a mode of teaching the logics of carcerality. In the spirit of the conference theme each of the scholars on this panel are invested in developing pedagogies of dissent that interfere with colonial conceptions of land and space. Much of the focus of these papers is to articulate the conditions that necessitate pedagogies of dissent, but they also move beyond these conditions in order to claim other possibilities.
Bryan, Joe, and Denis Wood. Weaponizing Maps: Indigenous Peoples and Counterinsurgency in the Americas. New York: Guilford Press, 2015.
Deer, Sarah. “Decolonizing Rape Law: A Native Feminist Synthesis of Safety and Sovereignty,” Wicazo Sa Review. 24.2 (2009).
Goeman, Mishuana. Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. Print.
Haas, Angela M. “Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory and Practice.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 19.4 (2007): 77-100. Print.
Sleeper-Smith, Susan. Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
Smith, Linda T.. Decolonizing Methodologies. New York: Zed Books Ltd., 2012.
Will the Internet Save or Destroy Us? A Dialogue with Critical Race Digital Scholars
Sat, November 11, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
The digital revolution is upon us, with citizens around the world turning daily to social media and digital platforms in search of information, culture, community, social support, and more. As scholars of critical race theory and media technologies, we too have set our sights on the digital realm. We recognize the potential within emerging media platforms for generating greater racial empowerment, personal and political agency, openings for participation, and activism toward diminishing inequalities. Recent forms of collective organizing by people of color, ranging from #BlackLivesMatter to #NoBanNoWall to #NoDAPL, have provided rich opportunities for exploring the way that racialized oppression can effectively be combated through online activism. Such perspectives can be categorized as “digital optimism,” with their corresponding visions of digital utopias serving to alleviate many of the social problems that have limited communities of color.
Yet it is equally important to remain skeptical of uninterrogated digital optimism, given that racial hierarchies are simultaneously institutionalized and upheld through digital economies, policies, and cultures. Indeed, the illusion of democratic participation can conceal dangerous inequalities and maintain white supremacy, as we have seen reflected in the recent election and the strengthening networks of white nationalist and other hate groups. The freedom of speech that is facilitated within online spaces has led to an outpouring of racism, discrimination, and hate speech that threaten to extend the reach and power of those who are already working to oppress minority voices and perspectives.
In this roundtable, participants will explore the ways critical race theorizing can bridge the gap between digital optimism and digital pessimism. Participants will make brief presentations on how they grapple with the potentials and delimitations of digital media in their own critical race scholarship. We will then open the conversation to audience members, facilitating an interactive discussion with others who are interested in exploring the nuances and potential outcomes of this debate.
Native Studies in the Digital Age
Sat, November 11, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian, Concourse Level West Tower
This panel explores problems and possibilities for new directions in Native Studies in the digital age. Panelists will probe the relationship between digital technologies and Native American Studies from a range of disciplinary perspectives, methods, and practices such as anthropology, literary studies, and digital humanities. Digitization is changing the possibilities for scholarly access to and engagement with Native American archives. Equally important, Native peoples are using digital media to preserve and advance tribal knowledge production in the twenty-first century – and to contest colonial practices and epistemologies.
Panelists engaged in joint tribal-scholarly digital humanities projects will map the ways in which internet sites like dawnlandvoices.org, an electronic collection of Native writing from New England, enable new relations between tribal and settler-colonial communities. Tribally-based historians and authors working with university-based scholars and students are digitizing historic tribal newsletters and in the process tribal activists are educating their own communities and the settler public about indigenous history and politics. The process of digitization of this crucial archive produces crucial spaces and opportunities for pedagogy, cooperation, and contestation. In addition to such decolonizing possibilities, digital technology also enables the importation of colonial practices into the digital sphere and age.
Gaming, where players take up indigenous personas and interact with digitally rendered indigenous worlds, represents an example of the dangers and possibilities of the present moment. On the one hand, video and multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft can become new sites of colonial appropriation, erasure, mis-education, and “playing Indian.” On the other hand, games like Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) and Assassins Creed III, where Inupiaq and Mohawk languages enable the creation of indigenous digital worlds, also has the potential to be community-driven projects that instantiate new collaborative relations and advance tribal language revitalization projects.
Native peoples in the digital age are reclaiming not only indigenous American languages but also Native literacies and literary forms. Websites like Gibagadinamaagoom (Ojibwe) link cultural, linguistic, and literary revitalization in transformative ways, explicating literary forms like pictography from within tribal epistemologies while centering the instructional authority of tribal elders. Such developments, and increased scholarly and tribal access to documents kept in archives and private collections, herald the possibility of radical new pedagogies, theories, methods, and histories in literary studies. Furthermore, it calls for a new longue duree approach to American literary history that centers Native ways of recording and transmitting knowledge while accounting for the ongoing adaption of new technologies like pictographic sticks, alphabetism, and digitization into literary repertoires, from the pre-colonial era to the present.
Sunday, November 12
Aided, Inspired, Multiplied: Web 2.0, Collaborative Writing, and Social Reading
Sun, November 12, 8:00 to 9:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Acapulco, Ballroom Level West Tower
Our received habits and traditions of reading are changing rapidly in the era of Web 2.0, such that “literary” texts are produced, disseminated, consumed, and interpreted increasingly in digital/networked spaces. More than 40 years after Barthes’ delirious exhortations to “writerly” reading, emergent modes of digital pedagogy invite students to inscribe texts in ways that exceed dominant practices of “close reading,” especially by activating cultural contexts for reading, writing, and interpretation. This panel will explore several strategies of dissent from foundational features of literary culture and literary pedagogy: the assumption that both reading and writing unfold in a silent, solitary space; the privileging of the private subject as both source and and aim of literary “meaning”; and the private circuit that conveys students’ critical writing between themselves and their instructors.
Our panelists use digital writing spaces (in very different ways) to open up literary pedagogy to question the authority of the instructor and the canonized “primary text” and to distribute critical agency throughout the “student body,” reimagined as an assemblage that works collaboratively to produce texts that are collectively authored and visible to broader publics. All three approaches share a commitment to fostering more democratic, reciprocal relations between students, authors, and teachers. Allred’s work uses the “Ivanhoe” plugin for WordPress to transform Melville’s Billy Budd into an RPG, in which students, librarians, and instructor explore the inner workings and outer cultural contexts for the novella. Using the Scalar platform, Hanley’s project engages students in networking texts and contexts to explore the relation between Hari Kunzru’s novel, Transmission (2005), and the darling of Silicon Valley capital, Uber. Glass’s talk introduces Social Paper, a collaborative writing platform she co-created, as a free/open alternative to proprietary LMSs, one that encourages the kind of democratic dialogue championed by Paulo Freire.
The benefits of this approach are many and varied. Students are more engaged when writing for audiences other than the instructor, especially when the projects are open to public view and/or comment. Students also read each other’s work more consistently and zealously when using these interfaces/assignments, integrating “peer review” more deeply into their writing habits than in traditional pedagogy. In these online writing and learning spaces, students can become more self-conscious and critical of the affordances and limits of different media, especially the boundaries imposed by traditional genres of student writing. Students can also begin to understand and practice knowledge-making as purposeful, collaborative process. Finally, when students occupy digital writing spaces together, they learn more about each other’s writing and research processes in ways that often diminish anxiety as they see one another struggle through difficult concepts or rhetorical challenges. One last note: in the spirit of our panelists’ concerns and the conference’s broader theme, we will pre-circulate the papers and encourage audience members to comment using hypothes.is, a free/open web annotation platform that itself embodies the ethos of collaborative and democratic modes of critique that the papers promote.
Post-9/11 Fictions and Reconfigurations
Sun, November 12, 10:00 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Burnham, Third Floor West Tower
Staking Claims: Race, Space, and (Re)Settlement in Minneapolis and Detroit
Sun, November 12, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Burnham, Third Floor West Tower