Tag Archives: Twitter

Sharing Process, Sources, Product: Around My Talk on Grad Student Group Blogging

Just a couple weeks ago, I gave a talk at MLA13 on graduate student blogging in which I call for graduate students, like us and in our example, to blog more about what we do over the course of the years we spend training for our jobs and for publishing. Rather than just reblogging my talk, this post is an effort to share my process of writing this talk, since it was highly dialogic and a new process for me. Feedback from other bloggers was critical to my learning how different users read, write, and connect through communities of graduate students studying Romanticism and other topics in the Humanities and to thinking through two very different kinds of group blogging forums: our nassrgrads blog and HASTAC.

Here’s a link to the talk: “‘A Large Amount of Good Second-Class Work’: The Value of Graduate Students’ Contributions to Scholarly Group Blogs”

Twitter and Storify: While writing my talk, and especially during MLA, I Tweeted a bunch and was on the lookout for Tweets on topic that pointed to relevant scholarly discussions. I made a Storify of these tweets, which you can find here.

To get to the final version of this talk I needed a lot of feedback from nassrgrads.com bloggers — thank you very much for your email replies! I also sought feedback from HASTAC (another group blog forum I wrote about and that I participate in). To think things through, I blogged on HASTAC and through those blogs generated two sets of very useful conversations.

Blog 1: “Graduate Student Research Blogging” and its conversation (on HASTAC) led me to …

Blog 2: “How Do You Use HASTAC” and its conversation (again, on HASTAC’s platform). All I can say is: wow! It is incredibly satisfying and exciting to have real-time discussions with scholars, like Cathy Davidson, and to have those conversations inflect my work so directly and meaningfully. More, please!

Here is a loose compendium of the sources I consulted while writing this talk, pub’d in Google Docs. One source I just thought of that is not on the list, and that includes blogs as scholarship, is Debates in the Digital Humanities (ed. Matthew K. Gold, U of Minnesota P, 2012).

On the “shoulder” of the MLA talk project, I was simultaneously thinking a lot about how we can make our nassrgrads.com blog a better, more fruitful, rewarding, rich, fun, and useful collection of posts and conversations. I’m looking forward to working on these improvements as a group!

All of this is to share a process that was extremely nontraditional for me in terms of scholarship production. It was true for this paper that thinking editorially about our blog and group on nassrgrads, blogging questions and comments in multiple fora, Tweeting and making a Storify, researching in The Chronicle and other pubs that focus on the relationship between scholars, modes of scholarship, and the profession helped me recognized the lack of serial scholarship produced by graduate students (on the whole) and ways in which we can increase our value as working Humanists who produce great quantities of useful work over the course of our training. It was a highly dialogic writing process in which comments from people I only know through HASTAC or nassrgrads — by professional connection in an online research community — contributed to critically thinking through the issues and identifying what I wanted most to say. After all, Mark Sample was adamant that each speaker only had 6 minutes and 40 seconds at the podium. I sweated this one and a lot of discussing and reading went into those few minutes.

Now that most of it is collected here, in this blog post, I am turning to my first spring semester projects: dissertation fellowship applications, revisions for my entries in the Johns Hopkins Guide to New Media and Textuality, and revising a diss chapter into an essay-length piece.

What are you working on right now? Looking forward to hearing from you — tally-ho, Spring semester projects!


Image of raw cookie dough: By Nick Ares (originally posted to Flickr as Cookie Dough) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Imagining a British Literature Unconference

Two years ago, NGSCers met to discuss possible topics for our in-utero blog. The idea of “reimagining the conference” from a graduate student’s point of view was raised by both Jill Heydt-Stevenson, our intrepid faculty advisor, and Scott Hagele, former co-chair. At that time, I had not yet heard of THATcamp (The Humanities and Technology camp), which does precisely this for the digital humanities. My goal in this post is to introduce THATcamp and juggle the idea of a BritLitCamp: a British Literature unconference.

First a major disclaimer: I’ve never been to a THATcamp in person. However, the backchannel (i.e., Twitter stream found by searching for #thatcamp) for the most recent unconference held at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason Univ., June 3-5, was as lively as a Boulder hippie drum circle at dusk. Participants tweeted non-stop about topics under discussion, photos, questions, and links to blog posts and collaborative note-taking in googledocs. I had no trouble following along from my desk and tweeting with participants, which just made me want to be there. Visit Mark Sample’s archive of #thatcamp tweets that he created using TwapperKeeper to read the tweets for yourself! (Make coffee first.)

So, what I know about THATcamp is comprised entirely of what I’ve read online and heard in brief descriptions from Johanna Drucker, Lori Emerson, Laura Mandell, and other DHers. My understanding is that THATcamp is meant to complement traditional academic conference formats and outcomes. It is a small, collaborative gathering of cross-disciplinary and cross-professional attendees (scholars, librarians, students, and non-academics of all stripes including programmers, business professionals, etc.). The agenda for the gathering is established by all the participants not a year in advance, but at the meeting: at CHNM this was done by writing session ideas on blank pages, taping them all to a wall, and voting for sessions by placing colored stickers on them. The sessions with the most stickers go on a schedule made then and there. Also, all attendees are active participants in each session — far more so than the format of paper delivery to an audience of listeners or even a roundtable. Thatcamp.org has a very helpful About page for more information, as well as a definition of an “unconference.”

Tweeted by @dancohen “How sessions are scheduled at #THATCamp. Done morning of, not a year ahead of time. Optimized for engagement. http://yfrog.com/gyt0sbaj

In his post on ProfHacker, Brian Croxall says that one of the things he loves most about THATcamp is its call for “more hack and less yak”:

“You’re encouraged to come out of sessions having done or made something concrete. In some cases, what you make might be a list of ways to improve a backchannel or a collaboratively written set of notes about project management. In other cases, you might finish a session having built a WordPress theme from scratch. Whether you believe that digital humanities depends on building things or not, it can be tremendously exciting to feel as though you’ve completed a project (or several) in one day…especially compared to how slow progress can often feel when you are writing.”

What Would a British Literature Unconference Look Like?

Revved up by the exciting tweets, notes, and ideas being shared on the twitter thatcamp backchannel, I began tweeting about the idea of a Romantic unconference (RomantiCamp?) with Roger Whitson, a Romanticist who works at Georgia Tech and studies Blake. Several THATcamp tweeps, ranging from 18th c. to Victorians, and from literature to history scholars, joined the conversation on twitter and together we created a collaborative googledoc of what a British Literature camp (BritLitCamp? BritCamp?) might look like. [Feel free to add to the document — your suggestions are most welcome!]

The googledoc expresses a lot of ways that a THATcamp-like event might create a new kind of forum for discussions of British literature and scholarship in our field: one that is more participatory, informal, and bent on learning skill sets and producing. It also expresses the concern that the academic literary conference model and literary scholarship really do go hand-in-hand. In other words, one of the things that THATcamp does so well (it seems, through my Twitter lens) is hold workshops that enable participants to learn and practice new skills right there–whether they are programming skills, communication skills, like Mark Sample’s session on Building a Better Backchannel, or project management skills. In literature, the “making” is usually research and writing, and as we all know, they are long and slow processes. The slow and often solo process of researching and writing essays leads to the solo presentation of a work-in-progress 20 minute paper to an audience of listeners. If it’s ingrained in our literary academic discipline to write and present this way, will a new kind of gathering that focuses on collaboration and “doing” work for our field? A number of THATcampers thought so.

To Chew On

Here are some of the suggestions from the collaborative googledoc that seem as though they might work for a BritLitCamp. They are quoted verbatim from the collaborative doc, so there are a number of authors voicing ideas and questions here:

“include more than 1 or 2 literary or historical periods at one conference to encourage maximum ability to move between periods and learn about a wider range of topics.”

“Hack British History and Literature. What does that mean? Less discussion, more doing.

– maybe a collaborative zotero site with great teaching resources

– or a centralized repository of 18c student projects/videos/etc–as a student-centered way of avoiding/complementing the research paper”

“Research discussions should be in the form of “dork shorts” (limited to 2 minute introduction of topic). These are read during lunch on the second day.”

“Question the privilege of the thesis statement or argument. Privilege the question.

– these are all great ideas–I like the dork shorts/lightning talk idea, which would naturally privilege something other than thesis–the question, the data. Putting ideas on the web, too, would be a great way to seek out collaborators. Use http://www.eighteenthcentury.org/ to house them?”

“create a collaborative document of the session, make public–true collaborative authorship. venue for this, after the fact?”

“collaborative sessions would be possible if there were readings in common that participants had a chance to do ahead of time. This would require session preliminary planning before attendees arrived — at least selection of works, but perhaps focus could be decided by attendees at the event.”

“Lit conferences rarely teach practical skills for how to do stuff. This seems to be one of the things that THATcamp does well. What then does a Lit-camp session do?

  • Close Reading
  • exchange project ideas
  • Distant Reading/Cultural Analytics
  • Data Visualization
  • Archival Research
  • Digital Apps for Literary/Historical Study
    • see earlier question about porting results info to chartable formats (from 17c-18c newspapers online, etc; if content itself is behind a paywall, what about just the numbers of hits? a browser plugin? @howet)
  • great visual, audio, video texts for use with X (see earlier notes re: themed/selected readings–integrate?)
  • Introduce text encoding
  • Forms of social tagging w/sources.
  • pair works across literary periods
  • pair unexpected works for classroom exploration of general topics”

Where to Now?

Do you have more ideas for imagining a British Literature unconference? What further concerns or issues can we raise? Contribute to the discussion with comments or just add anonymously to the googledoc.

And the Beat Goes On: STS 2011

I returned last Friday night 3/18, well technically 1am Saturday morning, from the Society for Textual Scholarship 2011 International Conference, hosted by Penn State University. The conference was a very positive learning experience for me in terms of my scholarly disciplines (Romanticism and digital humanities), writing process, professional community, and social media use. It was the first conference at which I tweeted (i.e., posted comments on twitter) about panels and at which I knew my own talk was tweeted out, the first time I participated in Day of Digital Humanities (DH) blogging (here’s my blog), and a welcome opportunity to meet and learn from other dh’ers and textual scholars that in some cases were also Romanticists. (See Paige C. Morgan’s wonderful blog post about the STS twitter feed, and about tweeting at conferences in general.)  Continue reading And the Beat Goes On: STS 2011

NASSR-L: Reply to All?

A year or so ago, I joined the NASSR-L: a listserv for scholars working in the field of Romanticism. Here is how you can join, too. I joined because I was advised that it’s a great place to learn informally about who’s doing what in the field and what the hot topics are. I’m glad I joined! Sometimes the conversation turns on current political issues (like Arizona’s immigration laws and graduate student loans), and other times it addresses literary and historical issues specific to the Romantic period. It is a great resource, as well, for learning about upcoming conferences and opportunities in our field. But one relatively consistent feature of the NASSR-L, it seems to me, is that graduate students do a small percentage of the talking/typing. (Note: It would be interesting to do a thorough analysis of topics addressed and those who address them on this list.)

So here are my questions: what is the graduate student’s role regarding NASSR-L? Do we need a similar forum for graduate students only? The official list etiquette statement begins: “The NASSR-L is a professional discussion forum for students, teachers and researchers of Romantic literature and culture. It seeks to maintain an atmosphere of respect and restraint at all times.” Clearly, we are welcome here and encouraged to stay as long as we’re interested. But are we doing the list’s community a disservice by usually being silent observers/listeners? I’m still thinking about it. Continue reading NASSR-L: Reply to All?