“Reflections on a Movement”

In “Reflections on a Movement,” authors Moya Bailey, Anne Cong-Huyen, Alexis Lothian, and Amanda Phillips discuss the #transformDH movement which places social, economic, and institutional contexts of DH at the forefront of the conversation. The article’s focus on social justice echoes our prior discussions and readings which have examined the unrealized opportunities within DH to move humanities studies away from the “ivory tower” into a more inclusive space in regards to race, sex, and economic background. This inclusivity has particularly failed queer individuals and women of color.

With this article in mind, this week’s reflection asked us to consider the following: How can your project be transformative? How can this program transform to change the needs of digital scholars? We discussed during the first day our ideas of what is and isn’t digital humanities/scholarship. How have your own thoughts on this changed?

Considering these questions for my own project, I think that the accessibility of my project meets one of the transformative components of DH. The public medium of scalar means that anyone who wants to see my research is able to without cost. I additionally think that my doing the research is a transformative component in itself. The opportunity for a female, undergraduate student to complete humanities research for the use of others is quite significant when put into the context that much of non-digital humanities research is often monopolized by an elite set of white, men in the academic world. Finally, my project is meant to be community-based, using diverse voices and experiences to explain the evolution of community engagement.

In terms of transforming this program to the needs of digital scholars, from my experience this summer, I would say the program is not meeting the diverse call of #transformDH. I realize that this is not an easy fix as this problem is not unique to the program, but rather is a larger problem with lack of diversity in liberal arts universities. It is notable that this program creates a platform for anyone to create a DH project. Making the program more attractive to a larger audience may be the issue. I additionally think #transformDH calls for greater engagement with the larger DH community. I also realize, however, that the program is limited by time constraints. Additionally, meeting other DH scholars at Lafayette was a great step towards this goal.

Overall, I would say my view of what is digital humanities has greatly broadened in my time with the program. Reading articles, attending the conference, as well as learning from my DH peers, I have seen such a wide range of DH projects that, although have very different purposes, all embody the values of DH. I have additionally become significantly more hesitant to call a project I am unaffiliated with “not DH.” I have found that the beauty of DH lies within the diversity of projects that it can produce.

One Reply to ““Reflections on a Movement””

  1. I’m happy that you are engaging with the idea of the community of DH as being transformative, or not. This program has long put a lot of emphasis on thinking about diverse viewpoints in DH, and for the first 3 years was all women, so it’s something we’ve intentionally and unintentionally worked with. But we can certainly try to do more, and see how the spirit of what we are doing in this program can go outside the library as well. I’m certainly interested in your thoughts on how to make the program more attractive to a larger audience, especially given that we are competing with many other programs that use the summer break to give students opportunities.

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