#transformDH: Feasible… to a point.

I’ve been watching Master of None, and this song is not relevant to anything I’m saying, but it’s a fun song anyway and you should check it out!

Reading the article “Debates in the Digital Humanities: #transformDH, Growing Up” created some thoughts that are still… kind of critical of this field. They will look selfish, and they will look a little negative. I agree with everything this stands for, but there comes a point where you need to start prioritizing where you put your energy.

I admit when I signed up for the fellowship I was merely hoping to do some research and create a digital project. I wasn’t expecting to be part of a bigger community, or bigger movement. Research, to me, has always been relatively isolating work because that’s what professors expect from you- you sign the honor code and remind everyone that this is your work and you did it on your own, right? Or else you get kicked out of school or at least get a bad grade?

DH, since I first defined it, hasn’t changed its definition much besides the possible addition of “interdisciplinary” to the word choice. The idea of politicizing it more kind of adds a bit more pressure to someone getting into the field who wants to do research and learn about how to make a great project, and get recognition for said project in the field the project is in. It’s very easy to get caught up in the politics of DH and act like you know what you’re saying when you barely have anything to show for yourself and credibility. While I do preach you should never disregard an amateur’s fresh eyes and lack of jadedness, there should be some basis to back up their points and minimize their ability to get attacked.

I also think that the DH community is trying to tackle too many things at once- making their own house safe for the queer and feminist community while also trying to get taken seriously by the respective fields digital projects are in while also trying to be politically active. There isn’t enough time to cover all of that, and there isn’t enough people too. We’re all human and have our own issues to focus on too.

The reading mentions utopianism in DH and trying to get more feminist and queer voices in the DH discussion, but I don’t think it will ever be perfect. There will always be a group that isn’t satisfied. I think the politics of it are important and reflect major issues that society is seeing in general, and even I don’t think that we will reach the agenda that radical queer groups and feminists are hoping to get. We keep mentioning castle in the sky, and building a log cabin instead- and no one seems to accept the log cabin.

I’ve accepted the log cabin. I don’t think my project will be that transformative- because I don’t want it to be. I think quality should speak for itself, and that’s what people are looking at my project for at the moment. It’s what I’m looking for. I want my audience to learn about cool art pieces, and literally while I was writing this Julia retweeted this:

I like that. If we all just agree to be good people, and not a jerk, and work on our projects to make things accessible but high quality, that’ll be a good transformation. I think that’s a better pathway than trying to overthrow the system.



As I was reading, Reflections on a Movement, I realized that I really connected with it! A lot of my frustrations with DH were being addresses and talked about! I really appreciate #transformDH, for what it has done and what it can do. I think it is important for all people to be aware of hierarchies and how they affect the work that we create and the production of knowledge. The values that Moya Bailey, Anne Cong-Huyen, Alexis Lothian and Amanda Phillips are really important values:

“1. Questions of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability should be central to digital humanities and digital media studies.

2. Feminist, queer, and antiracist activists, artists, and media-makers outside of academia are doing work that contributes to digital studies in all its forms. This work productively destabilizes the norms and standards of institutionally recognized academic work.

3. We should shift the focus of digital humanities from technical processes to political ones, and always seek to understand the social, intellectual, economic, political, and personal impact of our digital practices as we develop them.”

I believe that every movement should embrace the values like the ones above. The world would be a much better place if these issues were addressed in all walks of life.

By making DH more inclusive not only will more people be able to interact with digital projects, but more people will be able to be part of the DH community. I believe that the more diverse a community is the better it is. It can more easily meet the needs of others, help to educate those in the community and address the bias in some forms of scholarship.

I didn’t realize how powerful hashtags could be. I knew of #OccupyWallStreet and #BlackLivesMatter but I didn’t realize the extent to which that hashtags can literally support/ create movements and be used by activists. I think it is really cool that no one can own a hashtag. Although that might be a little scary, because they are not owned they are open and anyone can share their beliefs with a hashtag. All opinions might not be taken seriously, but they are all documented if the same hashtag is used. Hashtags can empower people to change the direction of a movement by having their voice heard by everyone that uses it.

Before this summer I did not have a lot of respect of Twitter and I did not like using it. Although I may not use it in my everyday life, I think it is extremely beneficial to connect communities, especially DH communities. I am very excited to start using #transformDH.

The most important values of DH are openness and accessibly and I believe #tranformDH should be given credit for helping to create that.

Elevator Speech

This weekend I went home for my sister’s graduation from high school. While I was home I went to 8 graduation parties for 12 of my sister’s classmates. Because I have not been home since January many people wanted to catch up with me. I told them about my trip to Morocco, Little Rock and this fellowship. Each time I explained my research, my elevator speech got a little better. I am going home this weekend for my sister’s graduation party and I will mingle with more people and talk to them about my research. I will also practice my elevator speech with them. I did not have a hard time explaining my research, I actually had a harder time explaining this fellowship and the digital humanities.

Transformative DH

Reading “Reflections on a Movement” by Moya Bailey, Anne Cong-Huyen, Alexis Lothian, and Amanda Phillips brings different aspects of DH to light. DH as a field encompass much, but it cannot encompass everything, and less visible issues tend to be pushed to the side. To combat this, according to the authors, #transformDH was born. It was used to bring issues pushed aside into the light and critically look at how DH is being used. The article itself can explain all this better than I can summarize here, so I suggest you read it for yourself.

In guiding my own project, the quote that most stand out to me is as follows:

“We should shift the focus of digital humanities from technical processes to political ones, and always seek to understand the social, intellectual, economic, political, and personal impact of our digital practices as we develop them.”

I know that technology is a big feature of this fellowship. In creating any DH, it is digital literacy is a required skill. However, technology is not the only part of a digital project. This quote encompasses that idea for me. In doing DH, I want to create a project not to simply be online and “with the times”, but to reach people on their terms.

My project can be transformative by giving space for stories not otherwise heard. Gettysburg has a history beyond the Civil War, one that is told in places but overlooked in others.  I have focused my energy on interpretation to bring these histories to people while using digital platforms to do so effectively. To make my project more transformative, I can make a place in it for discussion and give ways to contact me if there are any more overlooked stories that need recognition. While my project is historical, it does not have to be backwards looking. The past can be used to shape the future.

This program is a perfect place to do so. The program is not one where authorities dictate why things like DH matter, but one where conversation and critical analysis are encouraged. When I look at digital tools and projects now, I am looking for ways they can be improved, what biases they show, and what impact they may have. That is the strength of this program. While DH can give spaces and voices to people otherwise silenced, the DSSF program allows the fellows to talk freely (and sometimes cynically) of the nature of DH itself. Since this the first program dedicated to DH I have participated in, I have nothing to compare it to. However, because of the perspective given by this program, I’m sure as I grow as a Digital Scholar I will be able to offer a more exhaustive analysis. All in all, the program has a great basis for transformative DH because it opens discussion and challenges of the norm.

As a bookend to this, I want to return to the idea of DH and what it means. What exactly are we transforming? As this program has gone on, I’ve come to the conclusion that DH cannot be defined by platforms or programs, only by projects. The content is what truly makes something DH. Narrowing the definition only serves to marginalize people in a field that prides itself on inclusivity. The definition does not have to be set in stone and exclusive, especially not when DH always has the potential to evolve.

Meme-ingful Conversations


The first morning of the PCLA Digital Learning Conference, groups of Digital Scholars from Gettysburg, Muhlenberg, and Ursinus gathered to eat breakfast and wake up. To get to know the other groups and what work everyone was doing, we were asked to make “spirit memes”.  After that, everyone was wide awake, trying to think of puns while waking up with coffee. These are some of the results:

Gettysburg College
Muhlenberg College

Now, these are by no means an exhaustive analysis of all the programs. They are a snippet of information communicated comedically, created in five minutes at 9 AM. They did not need to be. The use of memes (and the puns and hashtags to come out of this exercise) set the tone for the conference. It allowed us to have more meaningful communication by breaking the ice. Because of this, we were able to bond and make connections, as Britt pointed out earlier.

It also gave me a chance to talk about memes.


-Emma Lewis

Special thanks to RC for his impeccable meme ability. 

Wet Cheese Balls, or The Product of Forcing Bored Strangers to Live Together

I don’t have a good song for this, so Spoon is always a good option.

I’ve said in a previous blog post that we keep emphasizing community in DH, and that’s something I only recently began to see. I also mentioned in my last blog post that we went to Ursinus for PCLADLA17 and that kind of turned into something even I didn’t expect: friendship? I had way more engaging discussions at this workshop and conference with both students and advisers, and I definitely felt more engaged with the community for once. We were joined in that nice house by the members of Muellenberg’s DH cohort, and it honestly turned into one of the most fun and low stress nights I’ve had in a while. That’s a lot coming from me, especially given how I don’t really like people (as my mother tends to point out). One of Muellenberg’s cohort is actually a former music director, and one thing I haven’t had the complete pleasure of doing is talking about the weeds of radio music directing. It was safe, relaxed, and many laughs were had.

Community is good. Make sure to appreciate it when you can, even if it’s with a few random strangers, a giant jar of cheese balls, and a pinochle deck they thought was a regular card deck.