Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities 2011

Along with everything else in life that you’ve been missing, the Day in the Life of Digital Humanities (“Day of DH”) 2011 came and went a couple of weeks back. What are the “Digital Humanities,” you ask? You could settle for me telling you that it’s humanities accomplished digitally, or you could ask the Wikipedia about it; or best of all, you could simply hear the explanations offered by those who have self-identified over the last three years as working in “digital humanities.” Here are just a few:

Digital Humanities is the application of humanities methodologies and theories to modern technology research. -Andy Keenan, University of Alberta, Canada

Under the digital humanities rubric, I would include topics like open access to materials, intellectual property rights, tool development, digital libraries, data mining, born-digital preservation, multimedia publication, visualization, GIS, digital reconstruction, study of the impact of technology on numerous fields, technology for teaching and learning, sustainability models, and many others. -Brett Bobley, NEH, United States

I think digital humanities, like social media, is an idea that will increasingly become invisible as new methods and platforms move from being widely used to being ubiquitous. For now, digital humanities defines the overlap between humanities research and digital tools. But the humanities are the study of cultural life, and our cultural life will soon be inextricably bound up with digital media. -Ed Finn, Stanford University, USA

On the Day of Digital Humanities, hundreds of folks who see their work in this way agreed to write a blog post about what they were doing that day, March 18, 2011. (This was the day that I became aware of the term, “digital humanities,” because the Day nosed its way onto my Twitter feed, whereupon I followed the tag #dayofdh for the rest of that day and the next.)

You will be excited to know that I’ve saved the best news: Because the fine folks at Day of DH have made the RSS feeds for the blog posts available as an OPML file (or, to translate, “Because blah blah the internet is cool”), I have been able to place the blog posts on my public NetVibes page! And you have a whole year to peruse them before Day of DH 2012!

[Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities 2011 was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2011/04/05. Except as noted, it is © 2011 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Teaching Carnival: Backstory (and New Carnival)

The newest Teaching Carnival (4.8), by Annie Vocature Bullock, is available!

Linking to this edition of the Carnival, ProfHacker Jason B. Jones also fills us in on where it began, and how one can host or contribute to a Teaching Carnival.

It is through the Teaching Carnival that I began to get to know most of the blogs in my Academic Blogroll. (See my right sidebar, underneath my regular Blogroll.) While I don’t love the other Carnival in my life less, it is the Teaching Carnival that most often makes an immediate difference to my daily practices of teaching and writing.

You can always find past Carnivals on the Teaching Carnival Home Page.

[Teaching Carnival: Backstory (and New Carnival) was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2011/04/04. Except as noted, it is © 2011 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Hey, the Teaching Carnival is Back

The Teaching Carnival had been (once again) defunct for a while, but look: it has been back and thriving since September 2010. The current teaching carnival is 4.05, hosted by Sara Webb-Sunderhaus.

The Teaching Carnival is a carnival of blogs in higher education. Because many of us who blog in biblical studies are also teaching in institutions of higher ed, I would love to see (and try to embody) some more explicit overlap between “Hebrew Bible” and “Higher Education.” The blogging going on out there about teaching and learning with undergrads and with grad students is amazing. Carnivals come and go, but in my experience, the bloggers in higher ed form a stable blogging community characterized by mutual support and penetrating reflection on learning, teaching, and academia.

If you can, try to put down that article on narrative in the ancestral tales, or that Akkadian hymn to Ishtar (just for a while!), and enjoy a visit some of our fellow educators in the Teaching Carnival or in my “Other Academic Blogs” blog roll (right sidebar, below my regular blog roll).

[Hey, the Teaching Carnival is Back was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2011/01/21. Except as noted, it is © 2011 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Mid-Atlantic SBL Call for Papers

Are you SBL? Are you Mid-Atlantic? Then this is for you.

The Mid-Atlantic Region of the Society of Biblical Literature has issued their call for papers for the 2011 conference (PDF link). The conference is March 17–18. The due date for proposals is December 6 2010. The theme this year is “Religion and Embodiment,” and fitting the theme is optional.

Good luck, and have fun.

[Mid-Atlantic SBL Call for Papers was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/08/27. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

This is What Grad School Means

Going over some old links, I came upon this gem of a quote from Dr. Crazy:

My grad students don’t seem to get that “grad school” means “Dr. Crazy doesn’t make class happen.” I gave them some tips, as well as some threats, that may improve this situation next week, but dude, it was a long 2 hours and 45 minutes tonight.

“Grad school” means that the professor doesn’t make class happen. Like any prof, I have a bag of tricks designed to communicate this through action: assorted discussion formats, student presentations, debates or disputations. But Crazy boils it down nicely into spare, clean prose.

How do you communicate to your students—especially in “that” group, the class that stares silently at you and waits for your to serve up the magic—that “grad school” means that the professor doesn’t make class happen?

[Rapid addendum: if you are a student: how do profs succeed in communicating this to you? What obstacles to you “making class happen” might not be obvious to the prof?]

[This is What Grad School Means was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/08/25. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Studying Religion or Theology: What’s The Use?

Akma and Mark (links are to their home pages) shared a Facebook link to the Geek Muse: 100 Reasons to Study Theology and Religion: A Call for Comments. With religion and theology departments coming under the knife, Geek Muse calls for your arguments: how do these programs benefit our society? What good are they? Give it some thought, and go comment.

[Studying Religion or Theology: What’s The Use? was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/08/23. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Six Days Remain…

…of guilt-free blogging.

Blue Gal reminds me that May is National “It’s Okay If I Don’t Blog Today” Month.

Have a good day.

[Six Days Remain… was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/05/25. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

The Self-Serving Conventional Wisdom of the Incurious Laity

In which conventional wisdom is suspected to smoothly glove a muscled hand at the throat: a constructed justification for hoarding knowledge as power.

Are the Bible-blogging church-type educators among my readers reading Anastasia? And if not, why not?

It’s the same way I feel when people at church assure me that no one is interested in learning theology. My question is always the same. Has anyone tried it? Did we run a class like the one I’m proposing and had it flop?

The answer is no. No one has tried it because everyone already *knows* it isn’t going to work.

Oddly enough, the people telling me this are invariably interested. I would love it, they say. But no one else would.

This means my experience of people is exactly contrary to the received wisdom. I get cornered in the parish hall for conversations about theology—when people aren’t too afraid of me, I have to add—on a fairly regular basis. My experience is that people want to know these things. They just don’t know where to start.

Last week’s raft of graduates included a handful of students whom I had had together in “Introduction to the Old Testament.” During one session, as a result of a particular student’s deft handling of Jonathan Culler, they had an amazing conversation about the fact that many seeming concrete things—sexuality, the middle class, race—are invented social constructs. They discovered that, if “everyone knows” something to be true or real, then that thing especially needs to be pried up and dragged to the middle of the floor where the cat can sniff it. All conventional wisdom invites a hermeneutic of suspicion.

And finally—and this is why I am so excited about Anastasia’s post—these students aimed that insight at the “conventional wisdom” about Teh Seminary Book-Larnin’: “everybody knows” that our congregations don’t really want to hear about all thish-yere stuff we learn in these rooms. Except, when you ask around, lots and lots of us have experienced adult learners in the church as intellectually curious and patient of new ideas.

So: whose interests are served by this myth of the incurious laity? Some group who would be inconvenienced by an intelligent, knowledge-hungry mob of adult learners? Who prefer the unidirectional dispensing of approved perspectives to the unpredictable results of informed collaborative construction? Until such a group can be identified, we can assign them some meaningless cipher as a label; let’s just call them, floverly-controlling, flower-grasping, flinsecure fleaders in the flurch.

Example: I recall a student who dismissed all documentary hypotheses of the Pentateuch as “elitist.” He argued that all such inquiry was a fine “brain exercise” for those who enjoy higher education, but that there was no way he was going to inflict it on the “general public” in his care because they would only be “confused” and “outraged.” Clearly, he saw it as part of his ministry to

  1. enjoy the power bestowed upon him by the structures of accredited higher education and ordination, and to
  2. exercise that power to paternalistically keep the lay people in his care ignorant of such facts he judged they might initially experience as disorienting.

In other words, he didn’t see that he embodied the elitism he decried, and that he depends on that not-seeing to justify his exercise of paternalistic power. Seminary educators will recognize this stance as common. The “conventional wisdom of the incurious laity” serves the interest of those who see knowledge and power as a scarce resource to be hoarded among an elite, empowered ruling class. To challenge that conventional wisdom may be to challenge an oligarchical model of clergy and power. “The facts will set you free.”

[The Self-Serving Conventional Wisdom of the Incurious Laity was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/05/20. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

What is, An Impending Sense of Job Insecurity?

Answer: According to Crossley, this dread feeling could potentially unite biblical scholars of all competing stripes.

In the online journal Bible and Interpretation, James Crossley writes that biblical scholars can hang together in defense of their discipline’s relevance, or we can hang separately in the public square of budget cuts in higher education.

The humanities will no doubt be the first target within universities in times of recession and cuts, and attention has already turned to those subjects deemed “irrelevant.” Unfortunately, the critical study of the Bible can be misunderstood as academics at prayer[.]

Please do read the whole thing: it is not very long.

Joseph Kelly offers a brief round-up (first paragraph) of bloggers already commenting on the piece.

[What is, An Impending Sense of Job Insecurity? was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/04/15. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Gayle’s List of (Women) Bible-Bloggers

Besides my other projects for the week, I am working through J.K. Gayle’s list of (women) Bible-bloggers, and I invite you to do the same.

I have been making a short list of Bible-bloggers to remove from my own RSS feeds on NetVibes: mostly those who 1) blog on the Bible or biblical studies only very rarely, or 2) those whose Bible-related blogging is mostly devotional rather than critical. (A previous incarnation of the “bibliobloggers” list sought to select for both of these criteria, though it had other problems related to bias; Jeremy’s current incarnation of the list is, as far as I know, open to anyone who wants to be included.)

Pruning my current feeds in this way will provide space for those on J.K.’s list who fit my criteria. Thanks for the heads-up, J.K.

[Gayle’s List of (Women) Bible-Bloggers was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/04/07. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]