Getting Started - Strategies for DH Professional Development
January 14, 2020
I am very happy to be part of the new collection Doing More Digital Humanities: Open Approaches to Creation, Growth, and Development, published in December 2019 and edited by Constance Crompton, Richard J. Lane, and Ray Siemens.
Routledge’s Open Access policy allows me to post the final accepted manuscript version of my essay on a personal website. After an 18-month embargo, I’ll be able to deposit it in the MLA Commons Humanities Core Repository, and in my local institutional repository.
The Doing Digital Humanities series is framed as a series of how-to articles – and mine is about environmental scanning, and conceptualizing Minimum Viable Projects. In truth though, I struggled as I wrote it, and still worry that it’s hard to give good advice that’s applicable to the range of different contexts that scholars face.
However, writing this article allowed me to discuss some of the realities of the situations that current and would-be grad students and junior scholars interested in DH/DS face, to wit:
In the context of digital humanities and digital scholarship, differing
perspectives about success and achievement are often the result of individuals coming from very different roles, and thus having contrasting or even conflicting priorities. Someone working in libraries may prioritize sustainability and scalability, while someone on a search committee in a humanities department may prioritize innovation or the likelihood of winning major grants, qualities related to the tenure process. I mention these contrasts because anyone pursuing professional development as a digital humanist will find themselves navigating these contrasting priorities. The skills and experience that you pursue are likely to align more naturally with some areas than with others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are excluding yourself from jobs, but it will be up to you to articulate how and why your experience has prepared you for particular roles.
There isn’t advice that can avoid this hurdle; only luck and privilege. But frequently when I talk with folks who are newer to the community and finding their way, dealing with the different perspectives in departments, libraries, centers, etc., is disorienting. I know that I found it so when I was getting started; but I also worried that I would be seen as ungrateful or whiny if I even tried to articulate it. And I am extremely grateful to Connie, Richard, and Ray, for letting me articulate it in print.
Huge thanks as well to Paige Maskell, who was responsible for managing communication, copy edits, proof checks, etc., throughout the process. That work plays a significant role in giving this volume credibility in its publication.
You can find the essay in PDF format here, at this link.