Reflecting on the DH@CC Spring Symposium: A Smash Hit!

On February 18, 2015, the DH@CC kicked off its inaugural event with Dr. Alan Liu’s provocative talk, “Key Trends in the Digital Humanities: How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” Thanks to the generosity of Pomona’s English and IT departments, the welcoming event was held at Rose Hills Theater.

Dr. Liu, an English professor at UC Santa Barbara, has been an active participant in DH debates, raising important questions about the nature and direction of DH. He is the author of Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Data Base, and also wrote a pertinent article on the development of a DH landscape which is largely void of the kind of critical focus the humanities are born from. The article is titled “Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities.”

Dr. Liu’s keynote talk, which is documented in the video below, addresses the general lack of humanist focus in much DH work and questions the meaning and purpose of data driven DH tools and projects. Dr. Liu also asks humanists who are new to DH, to consider the social and cultural implications of their future DH endeavors.

Dr. Alan Liu, “Key Trends in the Digital Humanities” from Claremont DH on Vimeo.

The following Friday was our Spring Symposium, a casual conference where 5C faculty and staff socialized, asked questions, presented DH related material and projects, and learned about key DH tools and topics. The morning began with a fantastic look at defining DH with Dr. Miriam Posner’s talk, “Framing Digital Humanities.”

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Dr. Posner, the DH Program Coordinator at UCLA, is the author of No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library. She has given talks on DH at universities across the US, and is currently working on a book titled, Depth Perception: Narrative and the Body in American Medical Filmmaking. A comprehensive post on Dr. Posner’s presentation can be found here.

Dr. Posner’s talk was followed by a series of faculty and staff presentations. Among them was a fascinating look at story mapping by GIS Specialist, Warren Roberts.

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The generosity and hospitality of the Honnold Mudd library staff made the DH@CC Spring Symposium a well-attended success with over 50 participants. Thanks to the support of Kate Crocker and Ashley Sanders, the event was well announced, coordinated, and assessed. Library Dean, Kevin Mulroy, provided comfortable spaces and catered lunch, which also served as a platform for a Best Practices presentation.

Because the Honnold Mudd Library and its staff is already deeply vested in digital scholarship at the 5Cs, it will function as a central programming hub for the future of DH@CC. Honnold Mudd Library has a wide range of staff members who can provide support and guidance for DH@CC work.

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Allegra Swift, head of Scholarly Communications and Publishing at the library, presented an important look at the implications of online publishing and distributing scholarly work. Allegra covered all things share-related from ethical responsibility to using citation management tools like Zotero.

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The day concluded with an un-conference meeting that focused on the future of the Honnold Mudd Library “Green Room,” a space that will become the official DH@CC lab. A lively discussion was had over what kind of equipment would best suit the space. Many faculty were quite interested in practical tools like a projector and moveable white board. Fun and interesting possibilities also came up, like the “Mobile Maker Cart,” which features craft-like tools and an inexpensive 3D printer. It was also suggested during this discussion that, rather than filling the space with equipment which will need maintenance and support, event programming is an option. A highly favored suggestion included the possibility of an equipment loan program, where each of the 5Cs would take turns loaning an exciting tool to the DH@CC space. Programming would then revolve around the tool for an entire month; demonstrations and hands-on learning events would be the expected outcome.

Additional representations of the presentations that took place at the DH@CC Spring Symposium can be found here. This link is expected to grow as faculty and staff continue to provide ephemera from their talks.

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