Teaching and Learning

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In my classroom...

What are we DOING as we support digital humanists?

As I manage student’s workload and facilitate the projects they do in support of digital humanities projects on campus, I’ve noticed that one of the underlying dynamics that I have to negotiate is what The Work is that the students do. People talk about job descriptions and the scope of the service, but unarticulated below of if that are deeply held assumptions about what counts as meaningful work for whom.

The student workers themselves are divided on this point. Some of them are very good at zeroing in on core questions that help us think through the project as a whole and set baselines for future decisions. They engage with the process of defining projects, and documenting decisions, and engaging with the campus, and they see this as part of The Work. Other students see this kind of thing as “administrative” work. They would prefer to DO rather than plan or document. Planning and documenting is not The Work to them.

I can see the same thing playing out in different ways with the faculty heading up the projects. Some see the student workers as collaborators with whom to exchange ideas about how to proceed. Others see the student workers as people to cary out project duties as assigned.

Meanwhile, as I look at my own work associated with digital humanities on campus, I can see that I’m kind of at war with myself on this topic. First, I’m an interim in this position, which I’m not good at. A couple of times I’ve wanted to engage with questions or jump into action and my steady comrade-in-DH has reminded me that we should do things right rather than soon, and I’ve felt chagrined each time because I know this and I think that in my regular work I’m usually good at this, but somehow in my current situation I seem to get ahead of myself sometimes.

Another layer of my own internal struggle is that my main goals as the interim DH supervisor is to keep the program afloat and to document, document, document. I want the transition for the new person to be as smooth as possible, and I want to be an effective project manager for my students. But sometimes I worry that I might be too deep in the “admin stuff” (as one student calls it) and pulling my students too far in with me. I can totally relate to the desire to just plug away at a project.

Planning, documenting, and program development are important parts of the job for each of us. They are definitely a good part of The Work of digital humanities on my campus. The trick is to figure out the right balance for each person. I don’t think I’ve figured out that balance point yet.

Get your applications in! The search is underway!

Come work with me! The search committee for our Reference & Instruction Liaison Librarian for Humanities and Digital Scholarship position is meeting soon to start reviewing applications, so get your application in soon. I’ve gotten a sneak peak at some of the job duties as I’ve been the interim digital scholarship person, and it’s really a neat area to be involved in on our campus. What started as an experiment is now growing wings, so it’s right at that interesting stage where there’s a lot going on and a great network of people to work with, but it isn’t a solidified program on campus so the new librarian will have plenty of room to move the program in interesting directions.

Also, you’d get to have a trading card made for you to match this year’s postcard theme.

Here’s the job ad:

Carleton College seeks a Reference and Instruction Librarian to join us in a lively, imaginative and team-based program of information resources and services. The library is committed to an intellectual partnership with the faculty in integrating information literacy into the curriculum of the college. Our information literacy program is linked to a college-wide initiative to address the basic literacies (information, quantitative, visual, writing, and speaking) that cut across the curriculum. Our digital scholarship work happens throughout the library and is done in close collaboration with colleagues on the faculty and in ITS.  We place a high value on a solid grounding in the world of scholarship, regardless of format.

This is an ideal position for an individual who is 1) looking for an opportunity to work in an institution focused on teaching, in collaboration with an unusually fine group of students, faculty and colleagues; 2) committed to excellence in teaching and to information literacy as a liberal art; 3) deeply rooted in and excited about humanities research; and 4) engaged in the methods of digital scholarship and its application to the liberal arts.

The full job description and application instructions can be found here:

Founded in 1866, Carleton is a private, highly selective liberal arts college with 1950 undergraduates located in Northfield, Minnesota, 45 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Best known for its academic excellence and warm, welcoming campus community, Carleton offers 37 majors and 15 concentrations in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Carleton is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse group of faculty and staff and offers a comprehensive benefits package.

As they say in all the best commercials: Apply Today!

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, or direct you to members of the search committee who can also answer questions. Or you can contact my department head (and search committee chair) Ann Zawistoski.