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Meeting to Focus on Ideas for Collaboration in Digital Humanities

Published: October 24, 2013

Go to ACM Notes

Digital humanities will be the topic of the second of three meetings to explore possible areas for collaboration among liberal arts colleges and research universities.

The meetings, sponsored by the Enhancing the Midwest Knowledge Ecosystem (EMKE) project, bring together faculty and administrators from the ACM colleges and member institutions of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) – the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago.

What Are the Digital Humanities?
From the Carleton College Humanities Center webpage:
Digital Humanities happens when work done in the humanities makes central use of technology in education and as a method of research, to preserve or make accessible source materials, or as a way to communicate the outcomes of humanistic research.
From Northwestern University’s Guide to Digital Humanities:
[Forms of DH] include, but are not limited to:
• scholarship presented in digital form(s)
• scholarship enabled by digital methods & tools
• scholarship about digital technology & culture
• scholarship building and experimenting with digital technology
• scholarship critical of its own digital-ness

EMKE is supported by a planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with the aim of identifying one or two collaborative initiatives that the ACM and CIC consortia can propose to the foundation for funding consideration.

The digital humanities meeting will be hosted by Macalester College in St. Paul, MN on Friday-Saturday, October 25-26, and participants from 25 colleges and universities are expected.

"Very broadly speaking, involving undergraduates in digital humanities research is something that I think both [liberal arts colleges and research universities] would love to work on together," said Elizabeth Ciner, Senior Program Officer at ACM and an organizer of the EMKE project.

Ciner noted that faculty at various ACM and CIC institutions are already working on digital humanities projects that involve undergraduates, including a collaborative effort between faculty at Monmouth College and the University of Iowa (see the sidebar below).

The first day of the meeting will open with a panel discussion outlining examples of ongoing digital humanities projects on ACM and CIC campuses. "Then we move to a lightning round session in which people will do five minute presentations on projects they're doing at their institutions that they believe have potential for consortial collaboration," Ciner said. "The last session of the day will feature three teams of faculty talking about collaborations that are already happening between liberal arts colleges and CIC institutions."

Over dinner, the meeting participants will break into small groups to engage with a set of questions:  Given your own experiences and the examples you have heard about today, what do you see as opportunities for working collaboratively in digital humanities? What can you imagine doing that you haven’t done before? What can you imagine doing better? What do you have to offer and what do you hope to get?

On Saturday morning, Ciner said, "we'll have a series of small group and large group discussions about what the participants learned, what they saw in the presentations, and what has potential, and then identify one or two things that we might constructively move forward with."

The first EMKE meeting, held in Chicago this past June, focused on languages, particularly language pedagogy, language sharing, and less commonly taught languages. A third meeting on another topic, still to be determined, will be held in early 2014.

         
 

Monmouth & U. of Iowa Faculty Collaborate on Community History Project

 
 

At the EMKE meeting on digital humanities, one of the presentations on collaborations already taking place will be given by Monmouth College English professor Bridget Draxler and Jon Winet, Director of the Digital Studio for Public Arts & Humanities at the University of Iowa.

Jon Winet

Jon Winet

For several years, Winet has led students developing the “City of Lit” mobile phone app that gives visitors a self-guided tour of Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa. The students have collaborated with community partners in conducting research for the app, which provides multimedia information about the city’s rich literary history, highlighting authors and local sites of interest.

“City of Lit” has now become a template for other communities to create multimedia biographies of “Local Heroes,” and Winet and Draxler have teamed up for the first collaborative exchange.

 
Bridget Draxler

Bridget Draxler

Students in Draxler’s senior capstone course in citizenship are partnering with community members and institutions in Monmouth, IL to research the town’s history and then curate multimedia biographies of noteworthy residents – that is, “Local Heroes” – as part of the new Warren County Virtual Museum.

“We look at City of Lit as a model and Jon is coming in two weeks to do a guest lecture with my class,” Draxler said. “One of the great things for me has been not only collaborating with Jon on the teaching, but also presenting [about the collaborative work] at conferences and publishing papers together. It’s not only working with someone at a different institution, but it’s also with people in completely different disciplines, and that’s been really rewarding for me. I appreciate the ability to collaborate in different levels of the project.”

 
         

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