This has been a spirited two weeks in conversations about higher education. First off, Rebecca Schuman’s Slate article on how “getting a literature PhD will turn you into an emotional trainwreck” hit the Internet on April 5, resulting in a flurry of heated articles published in response. Next, on Monday April 8, the MSU MATRIX Research Center hosted the Day of Digital Humanities, which provided insight into how digital humanists work around the world. My links in this Weekend Reading focus mostly these two big events through the lenses of race, gender and global politics.
- In response to Schuman’s Slate article, Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) has published an important blog post on graduate school, race and reality: “Plainly put, black folks need credentials because without them our “ghetto” names get our resumes trashed, our clean criminal records lose out to whites with felony convictions, and discretion works against our type of social capital (and weak ties and closure of information) to amount to a social reality that looks and feels a lot like statistical discrimination.”
- #DayofDH showcased Peter Alegi‘s (@futbolprof, Professor of History at Michigan State University) important digital humanities work on the African Online Digital Library and his own digital scholarship and pedagogy. The AODL includes a multimedia teaching resource on South Africa and apartheid, a growing archive on the ways African-American Activists supported Africans against colonialism, and the African e-Journals Project, which provides full text of 11 scholarly journals on Africa. In a #DayofDH post, Peter describes an oral history project his students are working on using South African archival materials at MSU: “Early in the semester, six groups were randomly formed and tasked with getting together, selecting (by consensus) an audio/video interview from MSU’s rich digital collections of South African history materials. The final products are an in-class multimedia presentation and a collectively written a 4-page paper that (a) contextualizes, describes, and analyzes the interview, and (b) reflects on lessons learned about South African history from oral history and its methods. Paper must also include an appendix with the transcript, a brief explanation of each member’s role in the group, and each member’s grades for individuals in the group (including her/himself).”
- Another interesting global #DayofDH project I came across was Mitchell Ogden’s (University of Wisconsin Stout) project to digitize sacred Hmong texts, which includes building a new OCR tool to recognize the obscure Puaj Txwm alphabet. In his #DayofDH blog post, Mitchell describes his working through his digitization project with his undergraduates, one of which is giving a presentation at the National Council for Undergraduate Research (NCUR): “I look forward to Monday mornings—because I get the chance to sit down with my two RAs for a weekly check-in and working meeting for our ongoing digitization project. Andrew (Professional Communication & Emerging Media: Digital Humanities Concentration) and Justin (Computer Science & Applied Mathematics and Game Development & Design) have each been putting in around 4 hours a week throughout the year. We’re working with the Tesseract OCR engine to create a tool that can digitize the Puaj Txwm alphabet for the Hmong language.”
- And part of what I was working on during my own #DayofDH: the Postcolonial Digital Humanities website. Roopika Risam (@roopikarisam) and I position #DHPoco as a scholarly space of exploration: “Grounded in the literary, philosophical, and historical heritage of postcolonial studies and invested in the possibilities offered by digital humanities, we position postcolonial digital humanities as an emergent field of study invested in decolonizing the digital, foregrounding anti-colonial thought, and disrupting salutatory narratives of globalization and technological progress.” Along with a series of #DHPoco comics, and blog posts, we are organizing a Global Women Wikipedia Write-In #GWWI on April 26. Follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter.
- Finally, an important new publication: the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s Report on the Future of Online Feminism (#FemFuture): “In the spring of 2012, Courtney Martin and Vanessa Valenti approached BCRW with a message: the new digital environment, so critical to online organizing and feminist community in the last decade, was in crisis. As feminist writers focused on online spaces, they were increasingly alarmed by the severity of burnout they saw among their fellow feminist bloggers and online activists. They wanted to make sure the landscape that had given them so much would still be around a generation later.”
Our video this week is a short trailer from Amit Virmani’s (@amitvirmani) new film, Menstrual Man, about the man who produced the first low-cost sanitary napkin for village women in India. Menstrual Man just premiered at the Full Frame Festival in Durham, NC. Contact Amit for more information about the film and the possibility of screening it at your institution.
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