Posts filed under: DH

I’ll begin by thanking Kathleen, Avi, and the rest of the Mellonaires for posting Open Review, and providing a nice hub for this conversation. Honestly, I have other things I should be doing, but upon reading Alex’s thoughts on the matter, and waiting for the aftermath of today’s root canal to come and go, I hunkered down and did a little reading. Now that I have enough focus to write, my thought is that if I don’t post something now about it, I probably won’t ever. So…open peer review.

I’m not opposed to it in any way, so like Alex, I may not quite be the audience for the piece. That being said, my own rhetorical disconnect differs a bit from his. Alex asks, “What is the problem with existing scholarly review procedures that the open review process seeks to solve?” and his answer is that “The humanities publish work of little interest.” There’s a lot more to his comments, so they’re worth reading in their entirety, but I want to pull out one thread and take it in a different direction. Among other things he notes:

For most humanities scholars (and when I say most, I mean 99%+), review feedback is the most substantive (and often only) conversation they encounter regarding their work. We know something like 95% of humanities articles go uncited. Even when an article is cited, there’s no assurance that the citation represents a substantive engagement with one’s text. So there is rarely much

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There’s been some buzz on Twitter today, coming out of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), about the increasing centrality of the digital humanities. William Pannapacker, who blogs for the Chronicle, notes:

This is a development guaranteed to scare the bejeezus out of any number of job applicants, I would suspect, not just those who self-identify with English. Like a lot of technology-oriented discussions, though, what will undoubtedly happen is that differences among fields will be elided, panic will ensue, and the fear generated will far outweigh any sort of perspective. A few thoughts:

I honestly believe that changing your department through the hiring process is a horrible strategy, with two exceptions. I have been in a department where there were a huge number of hires over the course of about 2 years, because of an early retirement outlay on the part of the school. Faced with turning over a significant portion of the department, departmental hiring priorities could actually be a good strategy. The only other exception I can imagine is if you’re looking to change what the department will look like 10 or 15 years down the road. But expecting a new hire to perform like a magic wand–ding! our department is now digital!–is a little insane.

A “no DH, no interview” kind of strategy places the burden for departmental change on those people least able to negotiate (much less question or resist) it, the as-of-yet-unhired colleagues. I don’t doubt that there are folks out there who would …

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