Vicki Suter

Discovering the power of good questions

Do I want to be a digital humanist?

Actually, no. At the Hybrid Pedagogy THATCamp this weekend, Even through a warm atmosphere of inclusivity, I had one of those “outsider” moments that led to an epiphany for me. That is, I’ve chosen a field and a profession that always operates slightly outside but adjacent to many disciplines. Well, maybe all disciplines. My life has operated at the margins – from the 60’s open school movement all the way to collaborative learning in virtual environments (arguing that the fundamental basis for learning is . . .play). I love frontiers, where the edges are dissolving. Technology is just such a great solvent, and I love working with faculty who are curious about the scholarship of teaching and learning in their field.

So I’ve worked with faculty in the fields of physics, music, chemistry, English and writing, literature, religious studies, philosophy, animal studies – You get the drift. I’m feeding my pathological curiosity. So, being an outsider is endlessly absorbing. I’ve chosen it, and I have no regrets.

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2 comments on “Do I want to be a digital humanist?

  1. Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer)
    October 22, 2012

    I actually think you just described my version of Digital Humanities. It is exactly about thinking about and hovering in the places where the cup runneth over, the places where a conventional notion of “the discipline” can’t quite contain what it is I do. It’s a hybrid phrase, a category crisis, two things that might otherwise seem at odds, a juxtaposition of the scientific and the literary, data and experience, the human and the machine.

  2. Jesse really likes the figurative language that describes this hybrid space, and it’s always inspiring to me to watch him do it. From the beginning of our work together we have done much of what you describe Vicki: resist categorization, totalizing narratives, the language of “disciplines.” For more, this is an attempt to concentrate more on the methods of scholarship than its content. I think we talked about this in our Reinventing College session. I don’t avoid content — ideas, studies, objectified results — but in the classroom I much prefer to demonstrate the process. We should, in many ways, be at the service of our students, not in relation to grades or degrees, but in terms of honing a careful method of inquiry. This is the only reason digital environments are exciting to me now. They put new methods on the table, and I want to work them out.

    I like to hear people who understand “the Digital Humanities” talk about that collection of practices. I, like you, don’t feel it’s so important to align with the title.

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This entry was posted on October 21, 2012 by in Technology and tagged .
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