A Final Reflection on DH

It’s the end of my final week as a DH fellow and I can honestly say the eight weeks have flown by. On my first day, I don’t think I could have adequately defined DH if someone had asked me. By the end of my first week, I had a had a much more broad understanding of all that his encompassed by DH. In my first blog: My DH I described a better understanding of the values of DH as well as the importance of community. In particular, I emphasized accessibility, public participation and collaboration, and critical thinking as the primary values of DH. I had also begun to see the potential for social justice work in DH.

At the end of these eight weeks I still agree that accessibility, public participation and collaboration, and critical thinking are some of the primary values of DH. My understanding of the projects that DH can encompass, however, has been vastly expanded. In particular, attending the PCLA Digital Scholarship Student Symposium at Lafayette College we so a wide array of DH projects both with similar and different approaches to my own cohort’s. From medieval archives to a baseball predictor, projects in DH have endless opportunities and potential purposes. With this in mind, however, when I started with DSSF, my perception of DH was narrowed primarily to history projects. Engaging with a broader DH community definitely showed me the opportunities in this field.

From our discussions and communities of practice, I would also be much more hesitant to point to something as not being DH that was intended to be. I’ve come to believe that if scholarship is utilizing digital tools to present information in a collaborative and accessible way than it can fall within the field of Digital Humanities. Additionally, being a part of this program has definitely made me think more critically about what is considered scholarship, particularly in the tenure process for professors and even within my own classes at Gettysburg College. Even at a liberal arts college like Gettysburg, my academic work before this fellowship has been almost entirely limited to academic papers and the occasional presentation. There is a whole world of scholarship in the form of DH that has been largely untapped by the traditional undergraduate academic system.

Overall, I am so grateful for the research and learning opportunities I have had in the past eight week with DSSF! My project grew from a singular research question to a project and website I’m proud of as well as an introduction to a community I was completely unfamiliar with prior to this summer. I know that I will continue to use this foundational knowledge in DH moving forward with all future academic projects.

Final DH Thoughts

When we first started to talk about Digital Humanities in week one we had a pretty broad definition of it, that is using digital tools to explore ideas, to teach, and to learn. We also agreed that it should be considered scholarship. I still agree with the definition of DH we came up with during the first week and still think it should be considered scholarship.

Before this project I had a narrow definition of digital humanities, I thought it had to be specifically digital humanities researched related. My definition has expanded to be a lot looser, that it can be anything created on the web and that it does not have to specifically be humanities based. I saw that with the visit from Bucknell because some of them were based on compiling scientific data or looking into scientific information, as well as how computer scientists also work on creating digital humanities projects. DH projects also don’t have to be about research, they can be creating a database, gathering information in one place, or an examination of one topic. This is more than just research, and includes more people than just academics. And especially that all DH projects should be considered scholarship because an article or book is not the only way to explore new ideas or argue a point, as well as it does not need to come to a definite conclusion to add to the conversation.

A resource that I used in a class last semester is a DH project that I did not understand to be a DH project till this summer. The Slave Voyage Project tracks the ships that left Africa full of slaves and where they went. It uses both digital tools and a database of the ships manifesto. Previously I would not have considered it DH because it is not necessarily doing research. But it is still furthering the conversation and contributing to the discussion even if it is not published in an academic journal. This also fits into the DH definition of how it should be considered scholarship. We viewed this database and time-lapse timeline in class and looked at it before class just like we would have to have a discussion about an article from a journal.

So long, for now.

Over the last eight weeks of this fellowship, my view on what can be included among the digital humanities has definitely changed. I thought the digital humanities was mainly websites and digital archives. I didn’t think it was possible to create multiple different sites or digital exhibits out of the digital humanities. I also didn’t know necessarily how papers and reviews could be transformed using digital tools. I believe the values of DH that I learned remain the same. I know of the importance of collaboration and openness of the web but, I don’t think I fully understood its benefits. Creating websites over papers that are locked away in academic institutions really helps the spread of information. The purpose of my own project centered around educating people on a topic they originally knew nothing about. Without the digital tools that I used during this fellowship, the information I was trying to communicate would not have reached the targeted audience I wanted to connect with. In addition to openness, I think that collaboration sets the digital humanities apart from regular papers and academic journals. I am limited in my own knowledge of the subject I have researched but I know with the help of other individuals I can extend the platform I have created to make sure more information can be shared.

I do think the community I centered myself around within the library definitely helped me form my own definition of digital humanities. But, even though my opinions were formed by the opinions of others, I did also read many articles discussing the digital humanities. I still feel that the library’s definition remains true. I don’t think simply submitting a document online can be considered digital humanities but, if you submitted the document in a way that allowed people to collaborate and extend the research then maybe there is some elements of digital humanities used. I still am a bit confused when trying to make decisions on what can be grouped under this term but, for now I’d like to learn about different projects in hopes that I can continue trying to shape my definition. The digital humanities serves as a platform to teach as well as present research to anyone willing to view it online. I am satisfied with what I made and how I feel it can benefit all internet users. I am grateful for the cohort I had the chance to work with and I hope to stay connected to such an amazing and supportive community. Thank you for this opportunity. I will miss seeing everyone for lunch discussions and workshops but, I know that this does not have to be the end.

Signing off for now,

Emma Poff

Thank you and bye bye!

Hi Everyone,

I cannot believe it is already my last but not least reflective response for the DSSF 2019. I feel both happy to be able to part of DSSF this summer and sad that it is time to say goodbye now, it went by so quickly.

Firstly, before answering the question I would like to THANK the DSSF 2019 TEAM: Amy, Clint, Emma, Emmarie, Eric, John, Maci, Michaela, Kevin, and RC. This was a pleasure to work with you guys and it was very a enjoyable time to spend summer with you. I think together throughout this program, we were able to build a strong, bonding community that will always be supportive of each other.

This time being in the DSSF program, my perspective at values of DH has changed a bit, or I would say have evolved a bit. In the beginning of the first week of the program, I was more focusing probably on my self working and being passionate at your work, and all that matters is not the result but the process and how much of your heart you have put on your work throughout your project. I still think that it is important and without loving what you are doing, you cannot achieve the perfectness (if it is even possible) of your project. Being ambitious, passionate and never giving up makes you and your work stronger as you are confident of it and in the end you will enjoy what you have achieve and you will proudly present to others.

But apart from these values, while spending time at DSSF, being part of the team, I have put more focus on a group/ community rather than individuality. As living with DSSF fellows and spending time with DSSF librarians, we have built as I said earlier a bonding community, which matters to me more than myself. I alone am very weak, but in a community I can get a support from anyone when it is needed. However, it is also important that you are equally supportive to others so that you can build stronger bonds together and have a trusted community. So my values of DH has evolved, which means they have increased, I do not only look at being passionate but also at building a community. Of course, the community is supportive of your work, but you do not have to focus on community, you can have stronger bonds by doing creative and fun activities outside work, where you can learn each other more and understand each other even better.

Now even if you think you failed at doing your work, you have not! Because, if you have built a strong community, they will not let you fall down, and they will support you until the end and help you to find other solutions for your problems.

I think that community is build on trust, so never lie to each other and be honest with yourself, your work, and your colleagues!

Best wishes!

Thank you for reading my reflections!

Have a good summer!