Bethany Nowviskie

ruby slippers

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(Cross-posted from the Praxis Program and Scholars’ Lab blog.)

It’s been an excellent Sunday morning for posts about DH and the profession(s). First, Desmond Schmidt crunches the numbers from a decade’s worth of job postings on Humanist, which is the primary and longest-standing international discussion list for the digital humanities. (If you think there’s a DH boom in the US, check out Desmond’s per-capita analysis.) Interestingly, this survey only took PhD-level positions into account. How have job requirements in this field evolved? Tomorrow’s Humanist should have a response from Dot Porter, citing an #Alt-Academy essay she wrote with Amanda Gailey on “Credential Creep in the Digital Humanities.”

And here’s Kathleen Fitzpatrick in the Chronicle, on what is really required of institutions and departments who encourage junior scholars to ‘Do the Risky Thing’ in Digital Humanities. Kathleen is amplifying and contextualizing a concern frequently voiced in the past two years, around the spate of “cluster hires” in DH — which sometimes seemed to happen without thought given to the suport structures, both departmental and institutional, that new faculty would need. (I remember Patrick MurrayJohn as the first to start squawking about this on Twitter. I couldn’t find his much-earlier tweets, but there’s this thread at DH Answers.) On the Chronicle piece, Kathleen and Ian Bogost make two important further points that may resonate with our Grad Fellows and Praxis group: regarding “mentoring up,” and pressing forward.

Finally, Natalia Cecire responds with the most acute blog post I’ve read on the whole so-called “rise” of digital humanities and its political and professional consequences: “It’s not “the job market”; it’s the profession (and it’s your problem too).”

And what am I doing on a quiet Sunday afternoon (besides linking together this distributed conversation)? Read the rest of this entry »

DH wonks, step this way.


Here’s a post meant for the pretty small audience of people who care about the inner workings of digital humanities professional societies. The rest of you may carry on talking about the Emmys, or badges, or honeybadgers. Or honeybadgers at the Emmys. Or badges for honeybadgers. DH wonks, this way.

The Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) was founded in 1978 and is the primary US-based professional association for practitioners of the digital humanities. I’m currently serving as vice president of the ACH, and am a new steering committee member of the umbrella group to which it belongs, the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). ADHO consists of three aligned, international societies: ACH, ALLC (the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing), and SDH-SEMI (the Society for Digital Humanities/Société pour l’étude des médias interactifs). Soon, a fourth organization will join us: centerNet, an international consortium of digital humanities labs and centers.

I’ve been a member of ACH for much longer than I’ve been active in its leadership or involved in the ADHO umbrella organization — so my encounters with its budget sheets and expenditure records are recent enough, perhaps, to make me conscious of how opaque its doings must seem to the larger DH world. This is exacerbated by the explosive growth (since 2005, when ADHO was incorporated), of the broad humanities computing community these associations aim to serve. I’m hoping to share some information here that will help members and potential members understand how these organizations fit together, and what — particularly from the ACH point of view — we’re up to, in an era of great expansion (and not a small amount of navel-gazing) for the digital humanities. Read the rest of this entry »

praxis and prism

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(Cross-posted from the Scholars’ Lab blog. I introduce our new Praxis Program here.)

Our goal in the Scholars’ Lab Praxis Program is to address methodological training in the humanities not just through workshops and courses, but by involving graduate students in digital projects from the ground up. This means learning by creating something — together — with all that entails: paying attention both to vision and detail; building facility with new techniques and languages not just as an academic exercise, but of necessity, and in the most pragmatic framework imaginable; acquiring the softer skills of collaboration (sadly, an undiscovered country in humanities graduate education) and of leadership (that is, of credible expertise, self-governance, and effective project management). All this also involves learning to iterate and to compromise — and when to stop and ship.

To do this, our Praxis team needed a project. We wanted it to be a fresh one, something they could own. It was important to us that the project only be in service to the program — that its intellectual agenda was one our students could shape, that they set the tone for the collaboration, and that — as much as possible — it be brand-spanking-new, free from practices and assumptions (technical or social) that might have grown organically in a pre-existing project and which we might no longer recommend.

In this inaugural year of the Praxis Program, the Scholars’ Lab, in consultation with some colleagues from UVa’s College of Arts and Sciences, is providing the central idea for the project. It’s just too much to ask that students new to digital humanities work invent a meaningful project from whole cloth on Day 1 of the program — especially one that, we hope, will make a meaningful intervention in the current scene of DH research and practice. That said, by the end of this year, our current Praxis team plans to have conceptualized a second project (or perhaps an extension of this one) to pass on to next year’s group.

Here endeth the preamble. What are we up to now? Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Commons License This site uses a heavily modified version of Bryan Helmig's Magatheme. Work at by Bethany Nowviskie is always CC-BY. Want to know why? The falling letters are by Wayne Graham. He kindly made them to replace a set I designed in Flash in the late 1990s and had in place for more than 17 years. Not a bad run! Ave atque vale.