well, actually… DH seminar 10 weeks in.

It’s week 10. So much for weekly updates on the DH seminar. In my defense, it’s been one heck of a hectic quarter.

But let me catch you up. 9 students, all women, learnt about data (what it is and what it isn’t), and figured our what to do with it. See below a self-made word cloud (sorry – it won’t rotate) inspired by Donald Trump’s “woman card” statements.


The students were also introduced to the inner workings of digital archive curation and management – and I think (hope) some of them were bitten by the metadata bug. My colleague at the UC Riverside library Eric Milenkiewicz did a two-seminar workshop on digital manuscript curation and management – and the one undergraduate student in the seminar followed that up by applying the the USC Master in Library and Information Science. Libraries FTW!

Below is a picture of the archivist doing his thing (note the very cool lighting and the soothing blue walls):

metadata with eric

Last week we all went on a field trip to UCLA, where Miriam Posner organized a wonderful afternoon for us. We were welcomed by Wendy Kurtz, who is doing some very cool work on memory and performance in Spain. Wendy took us on a tour of the insanely awesome maps/GIS sandbox which is ensconced in a back corner of a lower level of the maths building – do yourself a favor and click on the link above to see what wonders happen there. Albert Kochaphum facilitates collaboration in the sandbox, and he showed us the many fascinating projects the sandbox is developing. This is Albert being lovely to a crowd from UCR:

albert kochaphum

Then we went to the Young Research Library, where Miriam Posner talked us through what they are doing, and how they are doing it, and in the process made us all very jealous. Miriam has a wonderful way of explaining complex things in an approachable way, and is so generous with hermiriam time and her knowledge of all things DH. I YRLthink we all wished we could sign up for the DH certificate at UCLA right away, and hang out in the brightly colored
collaborative space at YRL.

As a consequence of the gender (non) distribution in the seminar, we are all a bit wiser about gender and tech, gender and academia, and gender and pedagogy. The title of this post refers to a what I was told is a standard sentence opener by male participants in grad seminars after a female participants makes a statement/argument. I don’t know how much mansplaining happens in grad seminars (seeing as we did not have any men in ours), but a version of “well actually” or “let me tell you how it really is” has happened to all of us – and not just from men. Academic posturing is neither attractive, nor helpful, no matter who is doing it. I did not hear any well-actuallies in this seminar, and I think some of it has to do with gender, but a lot of it also comes from that first seminar in which we did not introduce ourselves by status and rank in the program, but instead were all on first name basis only. Our first task was not to define who we were, but to play a game – and learn how to play it together.

I am convinced that modeling a flat hierarchy was crucial to the morale and mood in the class, and it is the only way I want to teach from now on. In a field that is as broad as DH, that requires so many different skills, and that benefits from many perspectives, openness is key. And teaching/doing history should be no diffedinner DHrent – it is a wide field, there are many methodologies, and each perspective is worth exploring. There must be some rules on how to explore, and best practices and standards to discuss and establish in concert. But testing and questioning the standards and collaborating on those questions – that is the way forward. Digital/hybrid pedagogy has changed how I teach in a 3D classroom and online, it has changed how I research and how I write, and I can only hope the last 10 weeks have made some difference to the students who were part of the experience.

Last week’s field trip to UCLA ended at a Persian restaurant in Westwood, where we ate way too much and had great fun (see attempt at group selfie). This week, our last seminar will end at the History Department end-of-the-year party at a Mexican restaurant in Riverside, where we will do our best to repeat the exploits of last week.

Summer is a mere 2 weeks away!!!



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