This post stems from a query I posted to Digital Humanities Summer Institute listserv on February 22, 2017 about an entry level Digital Humanities workshop for a senior colleague who had recently become interested in the field but is unsure how to wade into the fray. My inquiry inspired more than 45 private emails and listserv responses with a variety of suggestions. The resulting suggestions are below. However, the need for ongoing introductory workshops, conferences, or opportunities for Digital Humanities has a specific audience and purpose. While the DH community has been remarkably responsive to inquiries, investigations, and interrogations of its existence, have we left behind the basic need for an entry-level opportunity for our more senior colleagues who have become DH-curious?  We aren’t at the point to drop the “digital” and simply roll ourselves into all of Humanities departments and disciplines just yet. (See Jentery Sayers cogent discussion in “Dropping the Digital.”) This then means that we need some way to welcome others who might have particular barriers for entry into the field. But, what type of opportunity is right for any individual?

Workshop?

Conference?

Specific tool tutorial?

Bibliography of readings?

List of curricular materials?

What are we training these nascent and curious DHers to perform? Is “training” the correct model? I’ve been folding Digital Humanities into my pedagogy without calling it Digital Humanities for awhile at SJSU. However, those same strategies don’t work for a senior colleague who wants to know more.

It seems there’s a need to continue opportunities for introduction to Digital Humanities with a low barrier to entrance. Some responses on the DHSI listserv have recommended conferences, while others point towards syllabi and curriculum available online. Workshops at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute have come up more than once as well.

San Jose State University (one of the 23 California State University campuses) has a particular mandate for some funding at our university — that we integrate the research into our teaching in explicit ways. For this funding application, Sr. Colleague originally requested additional funding for an NEH seminar on a very focused and specific facet of DH. However, the workshop started skewing towards advanced DHers with existing projects, so Sr. Colleague would have been lost in that workshop. With that being said, we typically have funding of $1000-2000 per year for travel — but that’s no guarantee since it’s a competitive process. Of course, an NEH seminar would offer funding to cover travel and lodging so, it’s the best option for stretching that budget. Also, for whatever workshop, conference, or gathering that Sr. Colleague attends, the request for funding and subsequent report needs to tie the title and description of the DH gathering to teaching and research. So, if a workshop doesn’t say “good for intro to DH,” it will be difficult for Sr. Colleague to argue for the funding if the workshop description is specialized. Absent that, it’s difficult to find a workshop to accommodate these specific constraints. Sr. Colleague needs something where the threshold for entrance is very low. I also recommended to Sr. Colleague finding an opportunity with an overview for a variety of DH methods, a survey or menu of sorts, to allow for discussions about how complex the research project or pedagogical project should/could/would become.

I’ve been working in DH (and digital pedagogy) for over a decade in the Bay Area and am delighted about all of the company of DHers, but we’ve never quite been able to get ourselves together to collaborate, though Glen Worthey tried his very best over the years. Since 2014, we’ve had a slowly developing Bay Area DH Meet-Up group with a March meeting at Netflix. We’ve held a THATCamp Bay Area in 2011 (hosted and organized by Jon Voss) in concert with Silicon Valley tech organizations, but we didn’t get very far with that. I attend Stanford’s Lit Lab or CESTA to get my DH gathering fix, but I can make those meetings only few and far between. On my campus, I gave up organizing digitally-inclined faculty because it was taking time away from actual work — plus, I got tired of educating the constant turnover of senior colleagues and administrators who had a severe distrust of and hesitance to validate anything DH. My tenure/promotion changed that! And now, we’ve hired across campus many new colleagues on my campus who are that next wave of doing groovy DH stuff in their work — we just have to find each other.

Back to the original query: Sr. Colleague is curious but doesn’t know what she needs to know — does Sr. Colleague create a project or propose a question to address a need in research? Sr. Colleague has read articles that I’ve sent but really needs to be in an atmosphere where conversation and questions can help brainstorm ideas. Also, some opportunities offer funding but primarily to graduate students or early-career faculty. In our university, the senior faculty rarely see the same amount of funding as their junior colleagues and end up falling away from travel because it becomes self-funded (and pay-to-play).

Dropping Sr. Colleague into a TEI workshop or programming for Humanists, I’m sure, will turn Sr. Colleague away from DH completely. While the DHSI Administrator and Chair’s workshop sounds great it’s not quite the fit Sr. Colleague needs. Sr. Colleague is also already aware of my project, Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities (with Jentery Sayers, Matt Gold & Rebecca Frost Davis). Sr. Colleague is also keenly aware of the movements in book history and textual studies around DH. Sr. Colleague just doesn’t know where to jump in.

So, we need something low cost, low skill barrier, survey-like, preferably in-person. To add to this, there are constraints on spending the travel funds before June 1, 2017. (Yes, I know, but we’re working to convince Dean to extend this deadline.) I  don’t want Sr. Colleague to turn away from DH in frustration. This is a prime opportunity!

After that long preamble, here are the recommendations made by my generous DH colleagues.

The most comprehensive list that’s already been developed is the Simpson Center’s pages. Check those first!

Resources for Digital Humanities, Simpson Center

Training: Workshops & Bootcamps, Price DH Lab, University of Pennsylvania

Added suggestions with the above limitations in mind:

Thanks to Lee Skallerup Bessette for continuing this discussion in “Digital Humanities Training Opportunities and Challenges,” ProfHacker, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14, 2017

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