#transformDH

Since I came back from the American Studies Association conference in Baltimore, I’ve been struggling to find the time to post about it; since it’s currently the busiest moment in my academic job market calendar so far, that has been difficult. But it was a deeply energizing, exciting weekend that affirmed my joy in what I do, and sent me home with my fingers itching to write and create critical digital objects.

As with any large conference, I was heartbroken at how much I had to miss: so many panels on queer of color critique, so many intersections of the scholarly and the political, so many vital critiques of the institutions in which we are doing our work and connections to the #occupy upsurge that makes me feel so complicatedly hopeful and excited I haven’t yet been able to write about it.

But one of the intersections closest to my own heart, of the digital and the critically queer, felt as if it was reaching critical mass with the convergence of last week’s LA Queer Studies panel and this year’s ASA. Thankfully, I don’t have to write up the entire thing; Amanda Phillips, the other panelist on both, has made a great post at HASTAC.

ASA was a place for me finally to meet the people that I couldn’t find (for the most part) at MLA: digital ethnic studies scholars, digital feminists, digital queer theorists… maybe dhers with a lower case?

I know you are out there. And you are doing important work and I want to talk to all of you. I’ve met some of you on the Internet – you were the ones tweeting the occasional non-DH panels at MLA with me. You were all over the ASA backchannel. Being the backchannel jockeys that we are, a handful of us were able to advertise our collective goals and invent a hashtag that I’d like you all to use: #transformDH. Let’s build this critical mass and share projects that do the work we want to see in the field. I want more people to read the HASTAC forums on queer/gender/race/ability/etc issues and keep those conversations going. I want a Tumblr called I Am A Digital Humanist where we can show each other what a critical digital humanities looks like. I want more themed conference panels. I want a directory of these panels so we can keep finding each other.

Yes. I want these things too. I want a transformative digital humanities with space for all manner of transformations, including transformative works. And I’ve just submitted my first post–a vid, of course–to the TransformDH tumblr my co-conspirators have created.

I also want critiques and questions, like the ones Miriam Posner raised on Twitter about whether university staff would be excluded by a digital humanities that focused on theory and critique rather than the work of building. I don’t think so, but my own interests lie more with small-scale, grassroots, not-so-institutional digital practices and possibilities, so I may not see the full implications.

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