Posts Tagged mla
[This has been cross-posted at Adeline Koh’s website, http://www.adelinekoh.org/.]
Adeline and I are thrilled to announce that we’ll be holding an “unconference” on digital pedagogy as a preconference workshop for the Modern Language Association Annual Meeting in 2013.
What are “Unconferences”?
The ten-year old unconference format emerged as a response to weaknesses of the traditional conference presentation. Unconferences are participant-driven gatherings where attendees spontaneously generate the itinerary. Perhaps the best example of the unconference format in the humanities thus far has been the THATCamps which originated at the Center of History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University. The growth of interest in the unconference format within the humanities can be seen by the exponential growth of THATCamps, from one event in 2008, to three in 2009, to twenty-six in 2011.
Why an “Unconference”?
For the last several years, the MLA conference has increasingly welcomed new styles of presentation such as lightning talks and electronic roundtables, all aimed at increasing interactive discussion among the attendees. The organization continues to call for more change. In the Spring 2012 MLA Newsletter (PDF), both the MLA’s Program Committee and its Executive Director encouraged MLA members to consider new forms of presentations for the upcoming convention in Boston.
Our three-hour “unconference” on the subject of digital pedagogy is an attempt to answer this call to re-envision the conference format and introduce yet one more form of presentation at the annual Convention.
Unconference Theme: Digital Pedagogy
Attendees of our Digital Pedagogy Unconference will consider: what would you like to learn and instruct others about teaching with technology?
While interest in digital pedagogy has grown along with the rise of the digital humanities, these two fields are not identical. Although all instructors are being increasingly encouraged to incorporate technology into their pedagogy, not all of these instructors may want to become digital humanists. As such, digital pedagogy has a broad application for scholars of language and literature.
- We expect to offer 50 seats for the unconference workshop and to charge a small fee to sign up.
- Expect a website for the unconference to be forthcoming in the summer/fall of 2012, with more details and instructions about how to sign up.
We’re both incredibly excited, and hope you’ll join us there!
Building on several panels at the 2012 MLA Convention that separately considered digital pedagogy (“Building Digital Humanities in the Undergraduate Classroom,” “Digital Pedagogy,” and “New Media, New Pedagogies”) and games (“Digital Narratives and Gaming for Teaching Language and Literature” and “Close Playing: Literary Methods and Video Game Studies“), this electronic roundtable will generate discussions about the use of games in the teaching of literature, languages, and/or writing.
More than simple discussion, however, we will highlight concrete implementations of games in the classroom. Presenters will engage in informal discussion or offer interactive electronic demonstrations, lasting no more than 4 minutes. These presentations will take place at stations with appropriate audiovisual equipment around the meeting room. The remainder of the session’s time will allow the audience to circulate among stations, asking questions of the presenters. Those attending the session will leave with discrete assignments, activities, or ideas that they could build on in designing their own courses.
We welcome abstracts for presentations on any topic linking games and pedagogy, including the following practices:
- Games for language acquisition
- Interpretive games (e.g., the Ivanhoe game)
- Games as platforms for discussions or activities
- Gamification (as subject, as method); critiques of gamification (as subject, as method)
- Student- or group-designed games
- Games played inside/outside the classroom
- Game modification
- Social games in the context of a social/classroom space
Types of games may include but are not limited to the following:
- Video games
- Board / card games
- Virtual Worlds / MMORPGs
- Alternate Reality Games (ARGs)
- Social games (e.g., Cow Clicker, Farmville, The Nethernet)
- Spatial Games (e.g., foursquare, Shadow Cities, geocaching)
This roundtable session will feature up to eight presenters. Presenters are welcome from a broad range of institutions with a range of contexts and budget demands. Selection of participants will be based on a cross-spectrum of styles, classrooms, student experience, successes, and failures.
Send 300-word abstracts and bio to brian [dot] croxall [at] emory [dot] edu by 15 March 2012. N.B. All panelists will need to be MLA members (or have their membership waived) by April 7th.
I am organizing this session on behalf of the MLA’s Committee on Information Technology.
What follows is my talk for a session at the 2012 MLA on “#alt-ac: Alternative Paths, Pitfalls, and Jobs in the Digital Humanities.” I’m thrilled to be speaking on the panel with a fantastic collection of alt-ackers that I admire: Julia Flanders, Matt Jockers, Shana Kimball, Bethany Nowviskie, and Lisa Spiro.
- Good afternoon, all. My comments today are titled, “Five Questions and Three Answers about Alt-Ac.”
- I’m tremendously pleased to see this panel and the one that directly follows it happening at this year’s MLA.
- The need for ongoing conversation about alternative academic careers was brought home to me again recently when I received a rejection notice—a very kind one, I might add—for a tenure-track job that I applied to this fall.
- Nine hundred applicants. You don’t need statistical analysis or to be a digital humanist to figure out those odds.
- As Amanda Watson put it on Twitter, these sorts of odds make it clear that we must rethink graduate education and not ignore different paths for employment after the PhD. And that’s exactly what alt-ac can be.
- In my current position as a CLIR post-doctoral fellow at Emory University’s Woodruff Library, I’m lucky to be exploring the alt-ac track.
- My principal responsibility is to develop and manage digital humanities projects in DiSC, Emory’s Digital Scholarship Commons. I also taught an Intro to Digital Humanities this semester.
- In the past year, I worked to get DiSC off the ground, along with three colleagues. All of us are on the alt-ac track together.
- And this situation brings me to the first of my promised questions:
What’s the relationship between DH and alt-ac jobs?
Relationship Between Alt-Ac and DH (Question 1)
- As many of you may have seen, Stanley Fish recently had a piece in The New York Times, where he talks about the rise of the digital humanities at the MLA. His observation is a bit behind those (Howard 2009; Pannapacker 2009; Howard 2011; Pannapacker 2011) who made similar statements about the 2009 and 2011 MLA…but we’ll give him a break. He is Stanley Fish, after all.
- What you might not have seen was the very smart response to Fish from Ted Underwood, who teaches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature in the English department of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
- Underwood suggests that one of the reasons why DH is not the future of literary studies is because it “is not a movement within literary studies.” It’s equally at home in history departments (the slate of DH activities happening at the AHA right now certainly bear witness to this fact), in art history, in linguistics, in libraries, and many more corners of the campus.
- Underwood calls digital humanities “extra disciplinary.” We might say the same thing about alt-academics.
- One of the obvious connections between DH and alt-ac, then, is how extra-disciplinary they both are.
The Future (Questions 2 & 3)
- Question #2: Is alt-ac the future of DH?
- Well…not entirely. We have the creation of tenure track positions—and occasionally cluster hires—at places such as Maryland, Nebraska, Iowa, Clemson, Northeastern, and more. These positions are clearly not alt-ac.
- But insofar as scholarship in the Digital Humanities tends to require collaboration on multiple scales, those in these positions will in fact be “alt”—marked by difference. The pursuit of tenure for these scholars won’t be the same as those who have previously been promoted.
- What’s more, I think alt-ac is the likely track for most positions in the digital humanities—and probably for the university as a whole.
- In fact, let’s face it: the university is already primarily populated by people who are non-fac. And many of the non-fac are the alt-ac.
- That being said, alt-ac cannot mean short, terminal contracts; alt-ac cannot be a continued casualization of labor in the university. Instead, we should look to models elsewhere in the university—libraries, administration, research only positions—for helping us structure these career paths, both within and without DH.
- What’s more, these must be career paths. We need to think about how to create opportunities for advancement.
- Now let’s turn it around (question #3, by the way): Is DH the future of alt-ac?
- There many different ways to get your “alt on” that don’t involve building things (as Stephen Ramsay would have it). You can find alt-ac careers in a library, in a museum, in an archive, in a federal agency, in a think tank, or even—dare I say it—in administration.
- So it’s not necessarily helpful for us to frame alt-ac as only being a thing that happens in digital humanities.
- Again, one of the lessons of “alt-ac” as a concept is that there is intellectual labor in getting things done, in accomplishing the very impressive and real work of the university, throughout the whole university.
- And finally, a question (#4) that I’ve heard no one ask aloud: how should the MLA deal with the rise of alt-ac?
After all, sessions like this have little to do (on the surface at least) with the study of the modern languages.
- #5, and the kicker:
Can the MLA shift its purpose from representing those who teach and research modern languages to those who study or studied the modern languages?
- This simple shift would be enough to make the whole of what we’re discussing—to say nothing of the panelists—belong unequivocally at this annual Convention. I’m not sure that it’s something that alt-ac needs so much as a way to keep the MLA relevant with what the transformations we’re facing.
- More than either an object or method of study, the digital is something that is happening to the humanities in the 21st century.
- And alt-ac is something that is happening to universities.
It is not the only thing nor is it necessarily the most important. But it’s happening and in some cases it’s a very good thing.
- Perhaps in 2017 (or ’18 or ’19) we’ll be reading a piece from Stanley Fish talking about the rise of reconfigured, hybrid professionals at the MLA. And if in 2018 he’s a few years late in noticing the rise of alt-ac, well, so much the luckier for the rest of us who will have been the beneficiaries of the future’s accelerated arrival.