Digital scholarship, vidding, and risk

The current issue of Camera Obscura contains a short essay Kristina Busse and I wrote on “Scholarly Critiques and Critiques of Scholarship: the Uses of Remix Video.” We discussed the ways that the fannish form of vidding has begun to be recognized across different circuits of knowledge production, and what is gained and lost when that happens. One of our examples was the defiantly non-institutional Us, by Lim, which has nevertheless been shown in galleries and many classes (I’ve screened it multiple times). The other was my own work engaging with vidding as a way to do digital scholarship.

I spent this morning on Twitter discussing Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, calling on emerging scholars to take on risky projects and on senior scholars to mentor them (and here I must remark that I have been the beneficiary of incredibly generous mentorship from senior scholars in queer studies, science fiction and fan studies). I was concerned that the “risk” in her piece talked only about the digital, not about other reasons we should take risks in our intellectual work––to stand up for marginalized voices, be accountable to our communities, hold fast to unpopular or dangerous ideas. As I said on Twitter, it bothers me when “risk” is conflated with form. There are risky books, and risky ways of writing, that badly need support. And supporting dangerous ideas, varied forms of writing, and digital scholarship should be mutually reinforcing, not either/or.

With all that said, I’ve decided today that it’s time for me to take a digital risk. I’m letting go of a barrier I’ve generally kept loosely raised between myself as academic and myself as not-terribly-prolific vidder––a barrier that has been wearing itself down on both sides for some time, if it ever existed. It was my academic interest in fandom that inspired me to make these vids, after all. You will now find a tab for “Vidding” at the top of this page, and you can go there and watch the vids I’ve made and shared within fannish networks that have the most to say to my academic project. I’ll keep it updated. As well as works in their own right, these are the beginnings of my project of scholarly vidding, of vidding with and as scholarship; I hope it will take me to further possibilities, and maybe even further risks, in future.

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