Indexing your Life’s Work

Taking a momentary pause from the tedious work of proofing page proofs and end notes and bibliography entries to reflect on the immensity of being able to publish work that has been percolating for more than a decade — not because I put the project down at any moment, but because it took that long to research, visit archives, ruminate on the material, compare over 300 literary artifacts/books, and then peruse, analyze, and ruminate on all of their contents. Each conference paper, each keynote heard/attended, each presentation given, each SHARP or STS conference afforded a solution to dealing with a particular dilemma in writing about such a mountain of information and material. I’m in the process of creating an analytical index of the monograph now (thanks for the help, Alan Liu!) — an opportunity to revisit the fire in my introduction to prove that these literary annuals, this early 19th-century material, this German-born publisher were integral to the later Romantic and early Victorian literary periods. It may as well be written in ALL CAPS! Read more…


CA-OER imageCalifornia Open Educational Resources Council, chaired by SJSU‘s Dr. Katherine D. Harris (English), just won the award DETCHE Award for outstanding Instructional Technology Website, by extension through COOL4Ed. CA-OER is working on bringing low cost or free etextbooks to students in California Community Colleges, UC, and CSU schools — to reduce student textbook cost by $100-200 per student. The biggest hurdle is rigorous peer review of the OER textbooks and making faculty aware of the massive numbers of OER textbooks that are available from a variety of authors and publishers — AND THEN creating a repository where the peer reviews and links to the OER textbooks can be found. CA-OER makes and implements policy; COOL4Ed represents the public repository. The project is the first of its kind among 3 massive state educational institutions + the State of California. Nine faculty from CCC, UC, CSU working tirelessly for a year in partnership with Gerard Hanley, Leslie Kennedy, and Una Daly (who are the primary agents of COOL4Ed) to implement State Bills 1052 and 1053. So proud!!awardPlease find us on Facebook where we push out all of our updates, including a call for reviewers (with a stipend!), a faculty survey, a call for various focus groups, and news of our Fall pilot project.

Background: CA-OER selected 50 high impact and highly enrolled courses that articulate across CCC, CSU, UC so we could reach the most number of students. Since the concern is governed by two State Bills, we are serving a particular population in the State of California and have geared the course selection towards California institutions of higher ed.

The OER textbooks and their reviews are open and free to anyone for use — CA-OER developed peer review rubrics specific to the feedback we received from faculty at California institutions of higher ed, but anyone will be able to read the reviews and use the OER textbooks. (We’ll publish the review rubric on the COOL4Ed sight soon.) We didn’t author those textbooks because there already exist a great number of well-written OER textbooks already available. Instead CA-OER provides the review process and is working towards helping faculty to adopt and implement the OER textbooks into curriculum.

ADHC Talk: Collaboration & Failure: Must-Haves in Digital Humanities Projects

Tom Wilson invited me to speak at the Alabama Digital Humanities Center in November to my great glee. I had a chance to dive back into the Beardstair Project and graduate course under the guise of teaching collaboration in DH courses (presented Nov. 11, 2014). Special thanks to Emma Wilson for shepherding me around so I could experience her Day in DH.


In 2011, I resolved to reveal my Digital Humanities roots to my students in a more explicit way. But, first, that meant clearly defining the foundation of Digital Humanities, an amorphous field that had become a catch-all for anyone doing anything remotely “digi-savvy” in the Humanities. Armed with Stephen Ramsay’s notion for “screwing around” and experimenting with teaching and assessing collaborative practices, the result became a long-standing, on-going, student-driven project that allowed both graduate and undergraduate students to succeed, fail, and collaborate on a real-world digital project, The Beard-Stair Project. (See below for narratives about the initial guerrilla project and eventual programmatic validation as a graduate course.) By providing students with the opportunity to craft the entire project, from initial Humanistic inquiry to public digital scholarship, the Beard-stair Project illustrates the value of diverse collaboration, diverse approaches to teaching, pedagogy, interaction with physical and digital humanities resources, and the role that special collections and archival programs can play in supporting the growth of Digital Humanities study, research, and scholarship.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s HERE! Catalog Copy for Forget Me Not!

After years of research, writing, revising, scanning, searching, connecting, and just plain smelling old books, it’s here! The catalog copy for Forget Me Not! The Rise of the British Literary Annual 1823-1835. Slated to be available with Ohio University Press by June 2015 and will include 60+ images from my collection of literary annuals, almanacs, and more. I couldn’t be more thrilled!

I have to admit, though, I *have* been thinking about what’s next:

Read more…

Being a Traditional Scholar

My last post, DH Alienation, questioned the direction of Digital Humanities and was a reflection on academia in general. Since then, there have been quite a few challenges, the most difficult was the passing of my stepfather from a 2-year battle with cancer, a happening that occurred a mere week after my older brother returned from his active duty in Afghanistan. During that time frame, I tackled training for and the successful completion of an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run) — a feat that requires intense focus and commitment not unlike the long haul of completing a dissertation. I did it to allay some of the anxiety that was starting to close in on me through the last year or so. And, being an intensely private person about my family to my f2f colleagues, I didn’t discuss these happenings with anyone in my department, at least not in any official capacity until I was forced to do so during one or two meetings. I was reminded during that year of the importance of being focused on goals — and I returned to the reasons why I got into this business of being a professor. In the end, and this is clichéd but true, the journey is always greater than the result.

Read more…

DH Alienation….?

Today is Day of Digital Humanities, a day when Digital Humanists are encouraged to provide a snapshot of their day.

Welcome to Day of DH 2014!

A Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities (Day of DH) is an open community publication project that will bring together scholars interested in the digital humanities from around the world to document what they do on one day.  This year, Day of DH will take place on April 8th. The goal of the project is to create a web site that weaves together a picture of the participant’s activities on the day which answers the question, “Just what do digital humanists really do?” Participants  document their day through photographs and text, all of which is published on a community online platform (which, for this year, lives at Both during and after the day, people are encouraged to read and comment on their fellow participant’s posts.  Eventually, all the data will be grouped together, undergo some light semantic editing, and released for others to study. We hope that, beyond the original online publication, the raw data will be of use to those interested in further visualization or digital community ethnographic research.

The project started in 2009, and I participated from the beginning through 2012 ( March 2009, March 2010, March 2011, and March 2012). In the first year, I was excited — it was an opportunity to demonstrate that my work was valuable. My stake in DH turned very quickly to working on pedagogy through DH methods because my institution, a comprehensive master’s-granting state university, required that much of my focus be on my 100+ students each semester. Read more…

Open Access Textbooks & COERC

It’s been a good year so far with announcements! I’ve taken on a larger public role this year, both with my amateur athlete self and the Digital Humanist who advocates for open access.

This week, I interviewed for and was offered the Chair/Project Coordinator position for the California Open Educational Resources Council, a result of SB 1052 and SB 1053, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012, that calls for the creation of affordable digital open-access textbooks (CC BY!) in conjunction with the creation of the first version of the California Open Source Digital Library. Read more…

%d bloggers like this: