As a graduate student, I was fortunate to participate in the interdisciplinary programming of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. Inspired by the exchanges I had with students and faculty from across campus, I established two research colloquia sponsored by the center, Creating Community Through Blogging and the Modernist Studies Group, which led to my involvement in other digital humanities initiatives.
In 2006, I co-founded the Creating Community Through Blogging colloquium. It brought together students, staff and faculty at the University of Washington interested in studying how blogging can create practices and texts that can produce multiple connections within the university and between the university and the wider community. In short, we wanted to experiment with the possibilities of the blog medium and think beyond the model of using blogs as personal journals.
We created a blogging platform from open source software when no comparable resource was available through the UW. We experimented with this prototype, observing how interface features (i.e., tags and user profiles) encouraged collaborative authorship. Our platform was an evolving resource that accompanied our conversations about blogging, which took place during the campus workshops and roundtable discussions we hosted.
For the capstone event of the initiative, we organized a one-day symposium titled “Experiencing Communities: Bloggers’ Perspectives.” We invited bloggers from the Seattle area to discuss how their blogs served as community forums for neighborhood news and political action. The bloggers exchanged ideas with UW faculty and graduate students about creating online spaces for community engagement.[Click here for a document containing the press release announcing the launch of the blogging site, handouts for events and workshops, the symposium flyer and program, and the model used to assess the project’s outcomes.]
Between 2004 and 2009, I was involved in the Modernist Studies Group, a colloquium of University of Washington graduate students studying modernism and modernity. I coauthored the group’s original proposal to become a Cross-Disciplinary Research Cluster supported by the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities.
Before becoming a sponsored organization, our members formed reading groups to discuss new research and topics of interest in modernist studies. We also obtained audiences with scholars visiting the campus (Derek Attridge, Stanley Cavell, Marjorie Perloff) and prepared for these encounters by holding meetings to discuss our guests’ scholarship related to modernism. We continued this model when, with Simpson Center support, we had our own budget to invite scholars to campus (Sean Latham, Michael Tratner) to give public lectures and meet with our members.
The Modernist Studies Group also organized many events where UW students and faculty shared their scholarly work in progress. Members met to workshop drafts of conference papers and articles, and invited junior faculty to present their current research and discuss opportunities for professional development.
The success of Creating Community Through Blogging opened up opportunities for me to contribute to other digital humanities initiatives at the University of Washington. I enjoyed being able to share my experiences using technology for collaboration and in turn help those exploring new digital resources for research and teaching.
I was invited to join the interdisciplinary Digital Humanities Task Force founded by the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Washington in 2008. Together with my colleagues we crafted a set of best practices concerning digital humanities scholarship across disciplines. We addressed a range of issues from the sustainability of digital formats to the recognition of non-traditional digital scholarship in tenure and promotion.
In 2007, I was asked to advise to a group looking to launch a web site to accompany the print monograph Keywords for American Culture Studies. I described how I used coauthored web pages in English courses I had taught and helped the group think through the design of a collaborative wiki interface they later built, which was used by students across the country who read the Keywords book in university courses.