Tag Archives: digital humanities

Niceness, Building, and Opening the Genealogy of the Digital Humanities: Beyond the Social Contract of Humanities Computing

My new article, “Niceness, Building, and Opening the Genealogy of the Digital Humanities: Beyond the Social Contract of Humanities Computing” has just been published by differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. If you can’t access the paywalled version I’ve also uploaded an earlier version here. Abstract: “This essay explores the ‘social contract’ of the digital humanities community. I argue that the social contract of the digital humanities is composed of two rules: 1) the notion of niceness or civility; and 2) the possession of technical knowledge, defined as knowledge of coding or computer programming. These rules are repeatedly raised within the public sphere of the digital humanities and are simultaneously contested and criticized. I claim that these rules and the social contract come from humanities computing, a field commonly described as the digital humanities’ sole predecessor. Humanities computing has historically differentiated itself from media and cultural studies, defining itself as a field that uses computational methods to address humanities research questions rather than exploring the impact of computation on culture and the humanities. I call for a movement that would go beyond this social contract by creating multiple genealogies for the digital humanities; by arguing that current conceptualizations of the digital humanities have not only developed from humanities computing but also include additional fields such as new media studies, postcolonial science and technology studies, and digital research on race, gender, class, and disability and their impact on cultures around the world.”

The Political Power of Play: Keynote for Re:Humanities 2014

Below are my slides for “The Political Power of Play”, my keynote address for Re:Humanities 2014, an undergraduate digital humanities conference put on by the TriCollege Digital Humanities Initiative (Haverford, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr Colleges). The full text of the keynote has also been published as a peer reviewed article in the journal Hybrid Pedagogy.

Postcolonial Digital Humanities: Praxis (Proposal For MLA 2015)

can the subaltern tweet


Below is our submission for a Postcolonial Digital Humanities roundtable at the Modern Language Association at Vancouver, B.C. in January 2015. The roundtable will be presided over by Adeline Koh.

Postcolonial Digital Humanities: Praxis 


This roundtable explores the role of praxis in the academy through the fields of postcolonial studies and the digital humanities. Roundtable participants will discuss how they actively integrate the methodologies of postcolonial analysis into the digital humanities, revealing the implicit presence of race, ethnicity and systems of exclusion.


This roundtable explores the role of praxis in the academy by bringing together two fields that developed in seemingly unrelated trajectories within the humanities in the 1980s: postcolonial studies and the digital humanities. Postcolonial studies draws on continental theory and philosophy to probe the power dynamics that shape the relationship of colonized people to history and culture while the digital humanities integrates the study of the humanities with digitization and programming. Yet, over the past thirty years, the fields have intersected in surprising ways. Postcolonial scholars such as Deepika Bahri and George Landow used web technologies of the 1990s to advance the field, through early sites like Postcolonial Studies at Emory and the Postcolonial Literature and Culture Web as a form of academic praxis.

Intersections between theory, praxis, and the digital have been further explored by scholars of race and new media, such as Lisa Nakamura, Peter Chow-White, Pramod Nayar, Anna Everett and Alondra Nelson. Their work has begun articulating the relationship between race and technology, topographies of power in digital spaces, and the implications of globalized labor that place the burdens of producing technology in the hands of black and brown female laborers.

Roundtable participants, including senior and junior scholars, activists and librarians, will discuss how they actively integrate the methodologies of postcolonial analysis into the digital humanities, revealing the implicit presence of race, ethnicity and systems of exclusion. Participants further discuss how they drawing on the digital humanities’ commitment to praxis, building and exploration of social media and new publishing platforms to disseminate research.

There is substantial interest at the Modern Language Association annual meeting to further these discussions. Related panels at the last two MLAs (MLA 2012: “Representing Race: Silence and the Digital Humanities” and “Accessing Race in the Digital Humanities’; MLA 2013: “Decolonizing the Digital Humanities”), all resulted in full rooms. This roundtable goes further to crystallize these conversations by elaborating what the “praxis”–the actual political practice of postcolonial digital humanities could look like.


Our conversations hinge on a set of questions:

What does a politically inflected digital humanities praxis look like?

What is the role of activism in the postcolonial digital humanities?

How can social media be most effectively leveraged in postcolonial digital humanities praxis and activism, and what are its limits?

Is postcolonial digital humanities an imperialist project because of its beginnings in the United States, and how can this be mitigated?

How can scholars of postcolonial studies and digital humanities better account for the needs, representations, and legiblities of vulnerable populations?

This roundtable presents seven participants limited to five-minute remarks on the praxis of postcolonial digital humanities. The goals for the remarks are to stimulate conversation between the audience and the roundtable. We are reserving 40 minutes for discussion.

Roopika Risam will discuss the relationship between pedagogy and praxis. She will outline a theoretical framework for what she terms “postcolonial digital pedagogy,” a set of teaching practices that engage technology to decolonize the classroom and orient students towards significant learning experiences that extend the scope of learning beyond curricula and institution walls. In doing so, she proposes that the intersections of pedagogy and technology are a fruitful locus for engaged praxis.

Suey Park, originator of the #NotYourAsianSideKick hashtag, will discuss the role of hashtags in new forms of social activism and digital political organization. She will consider the ways in which shifting media ecologies present new opportunities for shaping collective identities and campaigns.

Deepika Bahri will address the past, present, and future of the Emory Postcolonial Studies website, recently reinvented as Postcolonial Studies @ Emory. Bahri will discuss the motivations behind her decision in the 1990s to build the site and use it in her teaching. Bahri also will examine considerations for future developments in the project while addressing how the nature of postcolonial digital humanities praxis has changed over the past 20 years.

Siobhan Senier will give a brief overview of current trends in the digitization of indigenous heritage materials; explain the theoretical underpinnings of projects that seek to enlist tribal communities in co-curation of their source materials; and detail the challenges currently faced by tribal museums, archives and libraries who want to conduct their own independent digitization projects.

Angel David Nieves will discuss current digitization efforts in South Africa as related to the many historical collections being held in local township museums, particularly in Johannesburg.  Including community members in the archive-making process involves re-inscribing traumatic events into the public sphere and negotiating how we collect, document, analyze and provide access to these narratives on the Internet.  An intersectional framework that engages the “postcolonial archive” and critical race theory provides new avenues for interrogating and dealing with a difficult past.

Porter Olsen’s talk explores the relationship between contemporary hacktivism and the anti-imperial movements of the early to mid 20th century. Looking beyond the hackers and hacktivist that dominate western newspapers, he outlines the otherwise obscure history of hacking and hacktivism in the global south, and how that history has led to the figure of what he calls the “postcolonial hacker” in novels such as Hari Kunzru’s Transmission and Lauren Beuke’s Moxyland, showing how hacktivists of the global south—both fictional and real—reframe the work of anti-imperial thinkers such as Frantz Fanon for our era of globalized neocolonialism.

Alex Gil argues that the early career of Aimé Césaire marks a moment in the history of the transatlantic region when existing publishing networks open up to new racial dynamics, particularly within the American Hemisphere. In this presentation he shows how the use of computational approaches can help us generate new understandings of the formation of a new anti-colonial republic of letters, and serve as the base for creating the postcolonial digital edition of the future.



Adeline Koh is Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature at Richard Stockton College. Her work spans the intersections between postcolonial studies and the digital humanities, 19th/20th Century British and Anglophone Literature and Southeast Asian and African studies, and games in higher education. Koh directs The Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project , an online magazine of postcolonial studies and is the designer of Trading Races, an elaborate historical role playing game designed to teach race consciousness in the undergraduate classroom. With Roopika Risam, she co-directs Digitizing ‘Chinese Englishmen,’ a digital archival project on 19th century ‘Asian Victorians’ in Southeast Asia, the postcolonial digital humanities website, and is co-writing a forthcoming book on #DHPoco. She is also a core contributor to the Profhacker Column at the Chronicle of Higher Education. She has held a Duke University Humanities Writ Large Fellowship and a postdoctoral fellowship at the National University of Singapore.


Roopika Risam is an Assistant Professor of World Literature and English Education. She is the co-founder of Postcolonial Digital Humanities (#dhpoco), a movement that foregrounds global explorations of difference within cultures of technology. Along with #dhpoco collaborator Adeline Koh, Roopika is co-writing a book on postcolonial studies and digital humanities. Roopika is the co-director of The Harlem Shadows Project, an experiment in producing digital critical editions of public domain texts, with Chris Forster, as well as co-director of Digitizing Chinese Englishmen, a digital archival recovery project, with Adeline Koh. Roopika’s research interests span postcolonial, African American, and Black British literary and cultural studies, as well as digital pedagogy and secondary education teacher preparation. Roopika is a member of the Executive Council of the Association for Computers and the Humanities, the founding editorial board of DHCommons, and MLA Delegate Assembly.

Suey Park is a writer and a political organizer based in Chicago, IL. She writes on race and gender issues and on various forms of digital and in person forms of social justice.

Deepika Bahri is Associate Professor in the English department at Emory University. Her research focuses on postcolonial literature, culture, and theory. She is the author of Native Intelligence: Aesthetics, Politics, and Postcolonial Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2003) and co-editor of Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality and Realms of Rhetoric. She has written several articles on postcolonial issues in journals and book collections. She is currently working on the representation of Anglo-Indians, Eurasians, and racial hybrids in postcolonial literature. She created the first version of Postcolonial Studies at Emory in the 1990s and is currently working on the Web 2.0. version of the site.

Siobhan Senier is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire.  Her current research and teaching interests include Native American Studies, Digital Humanities, Sustainability Studies, and Disability Studies.  As the present holder of the James H. and Claire Short Hayes Chair in the Humanities, Prof. Senier is working with regional Native communities on the website, Writing of Indigenous New England (https://indnewengland.omeka.net/). Her publications include Voices of American Indian Assimilation and Resistance (2001) and the forthcoming Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Writing from Indigenous New England.

Angel David Nieves is Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Director of the American Studies Program at Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y.  He is currently Co-Directing Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi), a $1.75 million Mellon Foundation Grant funded project (http://www.dhinitiative.org).  He has raised over $2.4 million in total support of digital humanities research at Hamilton.  His early work in the digital humanities and critical race theory (CRT) began with a prototype for Soweto ’76: A Living Digital Archive while a Faculty Fellow at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland, College Park (2006-2008) (http://www.soweto76archive.org).  Nieves’ scholarly work and community-based activism critically engages with issues of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South.  Most recently he worked with a team of undergraduate research assistants from Middlebury College on the Soweto Historical GIS (SHGIS) Project.

Porter Olsen is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the intersections between postcolonial literature and digital cultures, with a particular interest in how both fields deploy virtual spaces as spaces of alterity and resistance. Before returning to graduate school, Porter worked as product manager for a Linux distribution developer where he was a member of the United Linux initiative, an initiative designed to create a single Linux platform shared among distributors from Germany, Brazil, the U.S., and Japan.

Alex Gil currently works as Digital Scholarship Coordinator for the Humanities and History Division of the Columbia University Libraries. Current projects at Columbia include the re-skilling of subject librarians, a large data-mining project of a million-plus syllabi, a project to crowd-source marginalia, and other digital humanities initiatives. He finished his PhD at the University of Virginia’s English Department, where he worked to develop technologies to analyze and visualize intertextuality in medium-sized corpora to elucidate cultures of reprint in the American hemisphere. He is currently also co-editor of the Critical/Genetique Edition of Aimé Césaire’s Complete Works.

#DHThis: A Peer Review DH Experiment

This is a presentation on #DHThis that I gave at the Feminist Digital Pedagogies conference in January 2014. #DHThis is a peer review experiment in the digital humanities that attempts to give voice to a larger, more diverse digital humanities public. Read more about #DHThis and how it works here. #DHThis is a collaborative project with Martin Eve (@martineve), Roopika Risam (@roopikarisam), Jesse Stommel (@jessifer) and Alex Gil (@elotroalex).

#MLA14 Session Picks

Below I list the panels I hope to attend at #MLA14; I’ve chosen them with a special eye towards race, gender, postcolonial studies, the digital humanities and pedagogy. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend each one as many are scheduled each other in the same slots, but I will be reading the Twitter feed hoping others will be livetweeting these sessions. – AK


16. Teaching Racist Texts: Pedagogical Challenges

Thursday, 9 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Clark, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Russell Sbriglia, Univ. of Rochester

Speakers: Melissa Adams-Campbell, Northern Illinois Univ.; Alexander Corey, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; Brigitte Fielder, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison; Sarah Mesle, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; Erich Nunn, Auburn Univ., Auburn

Session Description:

The pedagogy of dealing with the racist content of American literature is the subject of this roundtable. Its underlying premise will be that rather than evacuating or ignoring racist content, engaging students in frank conversations about the racism inherent in much of American literature will help them address the difficult content of the literatures we read, discuss, and write about.


80. Hard Mode: Games and Narratives of Marginalization

Thursday, 9 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Huron, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Anastasia Salter, Univ. of Baltimore

Speakers: Edmond Chang, Drew Univ.; Eileen Cheng-Yin Chow, Duke Univ.; Adeline Koh, Richard Stockton Coll. of New Jersey

For extended abstracts and links to works under discussion, visit hardmode.selfloud.net.

Session Description:

Mainstream video games often reflect culturally dominant discourse, with narratives that fail to include marginalized or “vulnerable” voices and groups. As video games are becoming an increasingly visible form of storytelling and entertainment, what role can games from outside these norms play in subverting such marginalizing representations?


95. Media, Justice, and Revolution in the Contemporary Middle East

Thursday, 9 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Superior A, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Law as Literature

1. “Cultural Commentary as Political Activism in Iran’s Blogabad,” Babak Elahi, Rochester Inst. of Tech.

2. “Weblogistan: A Subversive Site and Mass Medium in Contemporary Iran,” Pouneh Saeedi, Univ. of Toronto

3. “Informal Justice: Film as a Means of Extrajudicial Appeal in Contemporary Iran,” Amy Motlagh, American Univ. in Cairo

For abstracts, write to jgates@jjay.cuny.edu.


103. Narrative Empathy for the Other

Thursday, 9 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Northwestern–Ohio State, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the International Society for the Study of Narrative

Presiding: Patrick Horn, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

1. “Narrative Empathy as Acknowledgment,” Ann Jurecic, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

2. “Narrative Strategies for Developing Cross-Racial and Cross-Cultural Empathy in the Short Fiction of Sandra Cisneros and Jhumpa Lahiri,” Marilyn Edelstein, Santa Clara Univ.

3. “Real ‘Others': Pathways for Empathy in Autobiographical Narrative,” Leah M. Anderst, Queensborough Community Coll., City Univ. of New York


187. Teaching outside the Classroom through Digital Humanities: Alt-Academic Feminism

Thursday, 9 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Indiana-Iowa, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages

Presiding: Teresa Mangum, Univ. of Iowa

Speakers: Anne Balsamo, New School; Natalie M. Houston, Univ. of Houston, University Park;Tara McPherson, Univ. of Southern California; Safiya Umoja Noble, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana;Roopika Risam, Salem State Univ.

For position statements and resources, write to teresa-mangum@uiowa.edu.

Session Description:

Can digital and public humanities reshape studies by and about women in language, art, and culture? Feminists, people of color, LGBT communities, and differently abled and aged women are creating collaborative spaces despite uneven developments and digital divides. How can digital tools and practices serve feminist pedagogy and critique, resituating feminism within and beyond the academy?



173. Beyond the Protomonograph: New Models for the Dissertation

Thursday, 9 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Northwestern–Ohio State, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Daniel Powell, Univ. of Victoria

Speakers: Melissa A. Dalgleish, York Univ.; Shawn Moore, Texas A&M Univ., College Station;James O’Sullivan, University Coll. Cork; Nick Sousanis, Columbia Univ.; Danielle Spinosa, York Univ.; Nicholas van Orden, Univ. of Alberta

Session Description:

Although the need for graduate education reform in the humanities is widely discussed, the traditional role of the dissertation as a capstone protomonograph has only begun to be questioned. This panel features six Pecha Kucha presentations (20 slides x 20 seconds) from graduate students developing radically new models of the dissertation, followed by ample discussion.




Home > Convention > 2014 Program > Session 199

199. Digital Queers, Queering the Digital: Gaming, Programming, Performance

Friday, 10 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Northwestern–Ohio State, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Division on Gay Studies in Language and Literature

Presiding: Martha Nell Smith, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

Speakers: Thom Bryce, York Univ.; Edward Chamberlain, Univ. of Washington, Tacoma; Edmond Chang, Drew Univ.; Kimberly Hall, Univ. of California, Riverside; Hannele Kivinen, York Univ.

Responding: Marilee Lindemann, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

Session Description:

This roundtable analyzes queer online performances that critique the exclusionary practices of dominant American culture, queering codes in game programming, and queer approaches to new media to make visible that opportunities afforded by queer bodies extend well beyond remembering Alan Turing, the gay iconic code breaker cited by some as historical proof of digital humanities diversity.


196. Write on Your Own Time: Scholarship and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members

Friday, 10 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Kane, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Contingent Labor in the Profession

Presiding: Nicole B. Wallack, Columbia Univ.

Speakers: Sarah Boslaugh, Kennesaw State Univ.; Katherine Boulay, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago;Peter Khost, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York; Zachary Lamm, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago; Sophie Queuniet, Columbia Univ.; Deborah Skolnik Rosenberg, Northwestern Univ.;Andrea Witzke Leavey, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago

Session Description:

How do expectations for scholarship enter into the lives of non-tenure-track faculty members’ teaching, sense of professional identity, and status among our peers? This roundtable will explore the conditions that inform the content, form, frequency, and reception of our scholarship. We will reflect on how non-tenure-track faculty members can create space—literal and figurative—for scholarly work.


197. Learned Society Journals: Challenges and Opportunities in the Twenty-First Century

Friday, 10 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Mayfair, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Doris Lessing Society

Presiding: Alice Rachel Ridout, Algoma Univ.

Speakers: Martha J. Cutter, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs; Betty Leigh Hutcheson, College Art Assn.; Sheri Spaine Long, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte; David Lee Miller, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Karma Waltonen, Univ. of California, Davis

For roundtable outline, visit dorislessingsociety.wordpress.com/mla/current/.

Session Description:

Focusing on learned society journals, participants will consider matters beyond the strictly editorial, addressing issues such as the function of journals in relation to societies’ membership, the transition to electronic publication, and the place of journals in learned societies’ finances.


213. Twenty-First-Century Pedagogies

Friday, 10 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Michigan–Michigan State, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on the Two-Year College

Presiding: Stacey Lee Donohue, Central Oregon Community Coll.

1. “Not on Wikipedia: Making the Local Visible,” Laurel Harris, Queensborough Community Coll., City Univ. of New York

2. “Survival Spanish Online: Designing a Community College Course That Bridges Culture and Authentic Connections,” Cecilia McGinniss Kennedy, Clark State Community Coll., OH

3. “Sound Essays: A Cure for the Common Core,” Kathryn O’Donoghue, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

4. “Leveling Up! Gamifying the Literature Classroom,” Jessica Lewis-Turner, Temple Univ., Philadelphia

For abstracts, visit commons.mla.org/groups/the-two-year-college/announcements/ after 15 Dec.


215. International Shakespeare

Friday, 10 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Purdue-Wisconsin, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Division on Shakespeare

Presiding: Garrett A. Sullivan, Penn State Univ., University Park

1. “Shakespeare in Glorious Techniculture,” Anston Bosman, Amherst Coll.

2. “Sindbad’s Happy Wreck: ‘Global Shakespeare’ Meets ‘Arab Spring,'” Margaret Litvin, Boston Univ.

3. “Global Shakespeares as Methodology,” Alexa Huang, George Washington Univ.


346. Reframing Postcolonial and Global Studies in the Longer Durée

Friday, 10 January, 3:30–5:15 p.m., Chicago IX, Sheraton Chicago

A forum.

Presiding: Sahar Amer, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

1. “(De)Imperialization and the Dialectics of World History,” Laura Anne Doyle, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst

2. “Customs, Ceremonies, and the Problem of Early Modern ‘Religion,'” Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

3. “Early Globalities: Questions, Objectives, Critique,” Geraldine Heng, Univ. of Texas, Austin

4. “Empire, Nation, Imperium,” Barbara Fuchs, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

For session summary, visit wsipworldstudies.wordpress.com/collaborative-projects/related-conferences-programs/.

Session Description:

A paradigm shift is occurring toward what might be called longer durée global studies. Recent work in world history shows that in the fifteenth century Europeans did not create but rather entered a world system. Drawing on this new scholarship in world history, participants present adjusted paradigms and explore the methodological questions for postcolonial literary-cultural studies.


350. Open Access: Editing Online Scholarly Journals

Friday, 10 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., O’Hare, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Helena Gurfinkel, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville

Speakers: Nicole N. Aljoe, Northeastern Univ.; Alan Clinton, Santa Clara Univ.; David Gunkel, Northern Illinois Univ.; Helena Gurfinkel; Laura L. Runge, Univ. of South Florida

Responding: Henry S. Sussman, Yale Univ.

Session Description:

The roundtable will address the logistics of founding and maintaining a journal; potential nonspecialized readership; the evaluation of open-access publications, as well as of the work of editing, in the context of hiring, tenure, and promotion; and peer-review practices that follow the open-access principle, while responding to tenure and promotion requirements.


409. Innovative Interventions in Scholarly Editing

Friday, 10 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Colorado, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Scholarly Editions

Presiding: Stephen G. Nichols, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD; Raymond G. Siemens, Univ. of Victoria

Speakers: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, MLA; Julia H. Flanders, Northeastern Univ.; Steven E. Jones, Loyola Univ., Chicago; Peter Robinson, Univ. of Saskatchewan; Timothy L. Stinson, North Carolina State Univ.

Session Description:

Explores editorial innovation, considered in the context of the field’s principles and practices, including those associated with the CSE and the award of its seal for approved editions. Presenters will address, among other topics, the role of editing in new Commons-oriented publication platforms, the uses of new media in scholarly editing, and the relation of the scholarly edition to the data that underlie it.


385. Feminists Leading for Change: Alt-Academic Feminism

Friday, 10 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Parlor C, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages

Presiding: Michelle A. Massé, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge

Speakers: Maria Cotera, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Florence Howe, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York; Paula M. Krebs, Bridgewater State Univ.; Ellen Lee McCallum, Michigan State Univ.; Monica Miller, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge

Session Description:

This panel addresses feminism in academia as a living practice that permeates not only the classroom and the library but all of higher education. The speakers will discuss the importance of integrating feminist principles into fields such as graduate student activism, curriculum design and policy, administration, public humanities, and publishing.


399. MOOCs, Boutique Subjects, and Marginal Approaches

Friday, 10 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Indiana-Iowa, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship

Presiding: Dorothy Kim, Vassar Coll.

Speakers: Rebecca Davis, Saint Edward’s Univ.; Wendy Marie Hoofnagle, Univ. of Northern Iowa; Helene Scheck, Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of New York; Sonam Singh, Barnard Coll.;Lisa M. C. Weston, California State Univ., Fresno

For abstracts, visit hosted.lib.uiowa.edu/smfs/mff/index.html.

Session Description:

This roundtable addresses what happens to marginal approaches (e.g., feminist, queer, disability, racial) and boutique subjects (e.g., medieval studies) in the MOOC paradigm.


Home > Convention > 2014 Program > Session 481

481. African Literature and Performance and New Media

Saturday, 11 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Colorado, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Division on African Literatures

Presiding: Moradewun Adejunmobi, Univ. of California, Davis

1. “Teju Cole’s Twitter Feed and the Politics of Digital Form,” Mark DiGiacomo, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

2. “Critic, Creator, Curator: Three Francophone African Writers and Authorial Presence on the Web,” Kristen Stern, Boston Univ.

3. “New Media, Shifting Margins: Digital Divide Reconsidered,” Akinwumi Adesokan, Indiana Univ., Bloomington

4. “The Place of Fiction in Southern Africa: New Media, Print, and Local Literary Ecologies,”Stephanie Bosch Santana, Harvard Univ.


577. Evaluating Digital Scholarship: Candidate Success Stories

Saturday, 11 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Chicago VIII, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Information Technology

Presiding: Victoria E. Szabo, Duke Univ.

Speakers: Cheryl E. Ball, Illinois State Univ.; Alexander Gil, Columbia Univ.; Matthew K. Gold, New York City Coll. of Tech., City Univ. of New York; Adeline Koh, Richard Stockton Coll. of New Jersey; Kari M. Kraus, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

In an electronic roundtable, candidates from various institutions and backgrounds share work and describe successful navigation of appointment, tenure, and promotion. MLA guidelines on evaluating digital scholarship serve as context. Discussion of how shifting definitions of academic success may include interdisciplinary collaboration, public engagement, hybrid teaching/research, alt-ac.

For a detailed description and participants’ project links, visit people.duke.edu/~ves4/mla14after 1 Dec.


599. The Praxis Network: Rethinking Humanities Education, Together and in Public

Saturday, 11 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Arkansas, Sheraton Chicago

A special session

Presiding: Katina Rogers, MLA

Katina Rogers’s Annotation: Full session details, including presenter bios, are available athttp://praxisnetwork.commons.mla.org/. For more information, please see the read more >

Speakers: David F. Bell, Duke Univ.; Matthew K. Gold, New York City Coll. of Tech., City Univ. of New York; Kevin Kee, Brock Univ.; Cecilia Márquez, Univ. of Virginia; Kelli Massa, University Coll. London; William Albert Pannapacker, Hope Coll.; Donnie Sackey, Wayne State Univ.

For description of programs and overall project, visit praxis-network.org.

Session Description:

How can humanities programs better equip students for a wide range of careers, while also fostering methodological expertise and public engagement? This roundtable will discuss a few possible approaches as seen in the Praxis Network, a new international alliance of graduate and undergraduate programs that are making effective interventions in traditional models of humanities pedagogy and research.



679. Decolonizing DH: Theories and Practices of Postcolonial Digital Humanities

Sunday, 12 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Purdue-Wisconsin, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Roopika Risam, Salem State Univ.

Speakers: Alexander Gil, Columbia Univ.; Adeline Koh, Richard Stockton Coll. of New Jersey;Porter Olsen, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Amit Ray, Rochester Inst. of Tech.

For abstracts, visit dhpoco.org.

Session Description:

This roundtable outlines the shape of contemporary postcolonial digital humanities and interrogates how postcolonial studies have evolved through different phases of Internet culture. The roundtable begins a public conversation about the contours, stakes, and limits of postcolonial digital humanities by exploring the roles of colonialism, imperialism, and globalization in digital cultures.



From Print to Digital: Reconfiguring Postcolonial Knowledge

The following is a lightning talk that I gave at two venues: (1) the “Decolonizing DH” panel at the Modern Language Association annual meeting in 2014, and (2) at “Sorting the Digital Humanities Out,” a workshop convened by Patrik Svensson (@patriksv) at HUMLab, Umea, Sweden. I am currently working on a longer version of the paper, and would appreciate feedback.


My talk today is a provocation. Not so much towards the digital humanities but towards some of the central issues within postcolonial studies. I will limit myself to a discussion of some of the potential opportunities that digital forms of publication offer to postcolonial studies, by studying the possibilities that result from the move from print to digital.


One of the central concepts within postcolonial studies is to rewrite the colonial library. The colonial library, as V.Y. Mudimbe defines it in The Invention of Africa, is a fixed set of texts and representations that have been used to defined colonized people around the world. Its common tropes include the “evil Arab,” the “inscrutable Oriental”, the “noble savage,” and the “primitive,” among others. The same sentiment is echoed by Edward Said’s notion of “Orientalism,” in which limited, essentialist tropes were used to define immensely diverse groups of people throughout Asia as corrupt, evil and unchanging. Postcolonial theorists have argued that attacking this library is the root of our mission; meaning, in other words, that to changing the hegemonic discourses around race and culture should be one of our core goals.What has not been discussed as often, however, is the idea this colonial library has for centuries existed in print form. The rapidly changing field of digital and Internet publications offer postcolonial writers and scholars fundamentally new challenges and opportunities to rethink some of the modes and strategies of rewriting the colonial library.Print knowledge works similarly to the pyramid  (see the figure on the left in the above slide). Because of the expense involved in producing print, not everything could see the light of day of print. Traditionally, therefore, in the print world, what actually gets printed has been “filtered” for readers by ideas of the expert—specialized authorities who have been chosen for their ability to select work of merit; because of their trusted mastery of certain areas, or their tastes and sensibilities. As you can see in the diagram, only a little bit eventually passes through the filters to be published—what gets published is symbolized by the narrow apex of the pyramid. This has gone through extensive review and selection, after experts, in the form of professors, in the form of acquisition editors and review boards, have combed through innumerable proposals and manuscripts to deem what should be fit to print.Digital publication, on the other hand, has no real need for experts for ideas to be made public. The rise of WYSIWYG editors and simple, free blogging platforms such as Blogger and WordPress, makes disseminating information as easy as a click of a mouse button. Internet publication does not need the heavy investment of production supplies—typesetters, printers, paper, storage for books. Mistakes are easily corrected on a website, unlike how expensive they are to address, once typeset, in print. Current forms of social media—most notably the “microblogging” platform of Twitter—even allows for new imaginings of idea dissemination and what constitutes a research text or literary work.

Internet knowledge doesn’t exist as a pyramid—it exists in the form of networked knowledges, or the figure to the right of the slide above. The “best” work has not been filtered out by experts, rather, it is a collaborative effort across various groups of people. David Weinberger states this succinctly in his book Too Big to Know: When the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room. Networked knowledges present a fundamental challenge to print knowledge, because “networks of experts can be smarter than the sum of their participants.” (62). Cathy Davidson (@cathyndavidson) also argues for something similar in her book Now You See It; where she criticizes disciplinary expertise as forms of siloed blindness, and encourage us to move beyond these frameworks.

To some, the Internet represents the worst possible changes to the state of knowledge. At its worst it signifies how any random person can publish pretty much anything. To these people, the Internet is an unedited mishmash of rumor, gossip and lies. It breaks our attention and spells the end of reflective, long-form thought (see Jonathan Franzen on Twitter). These naysayers hearken back to a time of true quality, where acclaimed experts got to determine what saw the light of publication.

On the one hand, the naysayers have a point. But on the other hand, networked forms of knowledge via Internet publication represent some tremendous sources of potential for postcolonial studies. These filters—the experts, the tastemakers—have traditionally been the group that we have come to call the “Orientalists”: the biologist, the environmentalist, the anthropologist; experts that came to define knowledge of “exotic,” faraway lands. The rise of the European Empires of the nineteenth century coincided with the rise of the industries of scientific “knowledge,” the specialized fields of biology and anthropology coming into being coterminously with missions of exploration and conquering. Expertise, in other words, has—within the history of Europe—been synonymous with colonialism. Edward Said clearly reminds us of that at the start of Orientalism, where he recalls the  Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century as a highly scientific mission; one in which specialized knowledge was tightly linked to surveillance, domination and control.

If print knowledge, filtered by experts, is interminably linked with the colonial enterprise, the networked nature of digital knowledge, offers postcolonial critics and scholars many opportunities for disruption. One doesn’t need to be limited to challenging colonial renditions of history. One can edit Wikipedia. One does not need to seek a big budget Hollywood production team to get an audience for a short film; one could upload one’s work to Youtube or Vimeo. One does not need to find a publisher to disseminate anti-colonial literature; one can blog.

There is, in sum, a great deal potential for rewriting the colonial library in the shift from print to digital forms of knowledge dissemination. I want to caution, however, that this potential is not unreservedly positive, and that my suggestion should not be read as a form of techno-utopianism. Important things need to be considered; in particular changing notions of a digital divide and global access towards the Internet.

For want of time constraints I need to end my talk. I want to use this provocation, however, to get us to think through certain questions. Are these new technologies intrinsically more democratic, or do they contain embedded racial, ethnic and class hierarchies? What sort of potential—and what sorts of cautions—should be explored in terms of these new forms of knowledge production? How could we, and how should we, redefine the notion of postcolonial knowledge and expertise in the digital age?

Vote for me for the MLA13 Delegate Assembly!


I’ve been nominated to run for the position of the Continuing and Distance Education Special Interest Delegate of the MLA Delegate Assembly. My candidate statement is below. If you would like to see the following implemented, please think about voting for me! Much appreciated.

Koh Delegate Candidate Statement

How do recent changes to the landscape of online education affect questions of global access, power and inequality? The widely publicized MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) movement poses important challenges that the MLA needs to address. If elected, I will work in the MLA delegation to provide strategic guidance on MOOCs, and the ways in which they can be used to enhance and improve–rather than replace–current educational offerings. At the same time, I will bring to the forefront the critical role that liberal arts institutions and community colleges should play in this reshaping of higher education, as pedagogy has always been the center of their institutional missions.

My scholarly and online trajectory has been dedicated to exploring the ways in which the online environment can be used to address issues of global inequality in relation to race, class, gender and disability. This has ranged from my organization of the Rewriting Wikipedia Project, an effort to reshape Wikipedia content from global and minority perspectives; a fully open, free and open access Postcolonial Digital Humanities Summer School in 2013 to engage the academic community in questions of global race, class and gender in the digital humanities; and my spearheading of an open Digital Humanities Liberal Arts Virtual Consortium, which will launch in Fall 2013. If elected, I will bring the same emphasis on challenging global inequality to the MLA agenda on higher education.

Image Credit: I Can Has CheezBurger 

What would a SLAC DH Consortium Look Like?

teamwork kids

The following was my proposal for the PhillyDH at Penn conference in June 2013, and is cross-posted on their website. Here is a link to the shared public Google doc for notes on that session.

I’d like to propose a workshop for brainstorming what a small liberal arts Digital Humanities Consortium would look like. Tri-Co Digital Humanities, hosted at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore and Haverford, is a great example. I want to extend this model to include small non-elite private colleges and places that focus generally on undergraduate education.

Issues we could talk about include:

  • What levels of interest in the digital humanities are there in our institutions?
  • How is DH in our institutions different from DH as practiced at R1s, and what challenges do we face? How can we overcome these challenges together?
  • How could we share resources and support?
  • What would be the best way to start a collaborative framework?
  • Are there opportunities for teaching across institutions? Would people be interested in contributing to multi-institutional projects?
  • What are some best practices for working across different SLACs?
  • How do we identify possible collaborators across institutions?

Image Credit

Postcolonial DH/DH Related Panels at #MLA14

Excited to be part of #MLA14, and by all the great topics I’m seeing. I started a collective google doc to publicize all panels related to the digital humanities, postcolonial, race, gender, ethnic, queer and disability studies at MLA14. Please add to the document here..

Postcolonial Digital Humanities: The Website

Now for the next step after the postcolonial digital humanities tumblr: the #DHPoco website. Roopika and I hope this will become the space for more concentrated inquiry into the possibilities and shape of this new field. Check out our mission statement and founding principles. We gladly consider submissions.