UPDATE: On May 25, 2018 @ 2pm, President Papazian delivered some terrific and long-awaited news: Full Professor.
After years of hearing in grad school “no one gets a tenure track job,” then getting one; then going through the very stressful probationary years while holding onto what I valued in teaching, service, and research; then the “tenure troubles” of 2010; then puzzling out what to do and how to support others in the profession during my middle years; then getting to that vaunted final step as a faculty member — I’m re-reading this dossier statement for clarity during my sabbatical so I can suss out what I will continue to value and how I can help my profession and my students for this next phase.
The Graduate Center, City University of New York, my alma mater, instilled many of these values into my professional life. My advisors gave me freedom to explore and continued to encourage me for the rest of my career. (A terrific example of mentoring!)
In 2012, I submitted my dossier for promotion to Associate Professor. I received tenure 2 years earlier, but due to shenanigans, promotion (and a raise) didn’t come with that honor. I’ve blogged about that time and the psychological and financial toll that took on my professional career, and I’ve also blogged about my insistence on governing my career with a specific map in mind, not necessarily one dictated by my colleagues or the profession, including a commitment to open access research and scholarship, revising Digital Humanities into Digital Pedagogy, and focusing on History of the Book in my literary field. I also wanted to avoid silo-ing myself on campus and thus took opportunities to serve on college and university-wide committees to get to know a wider swath of my campus’ faculty. In other words, my career has not been haphazard in its trajectory — and everything has been connected.
In Fall 2017, I applied for promotion to Full Professor. Since this would be the first year that my campus resorted to completely digital dossiers, I spent a lot of time crafting my digital documents (converting everything to pdf with consistent naming protocols, etc.) and mucking with the digital platform. There was no real beta-testing period. We were it. And, there were many issues with the user-interface design. Administrators operated with the idea that we, this group of faculty applying for promotion and/or tenure, would highlight those issues. This seemed problematic to me since among this group are probationary faculty who ostensibly don’t want to “rock the boat.” On the other end were the committee members who did not have the training to work on this digital platform, nor were they accustomed to it. Since our process is open, we all voted on the committee memberships. Yep, I voted with an intention towards those who would be welcoming of the digital platform for review. I don’t think the administrators understand that reading online will change the reading experience, and therefore the decision-making process, for the committee members. So many documents in a sea of a single, long-scrolling page might become invisible as reviewers suffered from click fatigue.
For example: Click 3 times to see a single document that would open into a program resident on the reviewer’s computer — and the reviewer needed to have a pdf reader and/or Word set up to automatically open each document. Then, each document stays open until closed. If not named properly, the 80+ documents could all be named Harris 1/2/3 with no indication of the order of documents or their contents.
Though I kept in close contact with our Faculty Affairs Office (the entity that oversees retention, tenure, promotion), the platform errors abounded and the process took up about an extra month’s worth of time in late August/early September. This included the time spent ensuring that everyone would receive funding to help with scanning all paper documents (for that’s the only way we were sent materials for most of my career here at SJSU) into digital form. Luckily, our English Department administrative staff are top notch and stepped in to help me with my scanning. Frustratingly, in the administration’s eyes, “all’s well that ends well!” But, the cost to my time and the constant vigilance in this process cost me greatly this year. Our move to a digital dossier platform is very welcome for me, but administrators didn’t implement the platform properly for such an important professional advancement endeavor. And, they lost an opportunity to have an academic discussion about reading practices that could have inherently been invigorating and scholarly. User-interface design matters! Radial reading practices matter! …says the Textual Scholar and Digital Humanist — aye me.
As I write this post, my dossier is going through the final stages of the University RTP Committee with a recommendation to be posted in February/March and the President’s final announcements slated for late May 2018. Though we recently overhauled our RTP process (see Preparing Your Dossier Under S15-8: A Handbook For Faculty) and my department created and approved RTP guidelines , I opted to go up for promotion under our old guidelines primarily because my dossier had always been submitted under these guidelines — and there was some question if my service qualified as exemplary (though 3 years as the chair of a difficult project seemed exemplary service to me). The new guidelines also state clearly that the reviewers should focus on a holistic review of teaching, but committees still over-rely on student evaluation numbers (and my department did so almost exclusively in my review, much to my chagrin but fortunately not to the detriment of my advancement).
So far, the Department, College, and Dean’s reviews have been successful and laudatory. Of course, there’s always areas for improvement — I wouldn’t do this job unless I could continue to learn (from my scholarship/research, my students, and my colleagues). There are never any guarantees with academia, so I’ve been celebrating each step with a mini-dance
The most important aspect of this process for me has been to reflect on my career as I saw fit to run it, that I maintained principles determined before taking on this position, and that demonstrating “success” doesn’t mean counting citations or racking up student evaluation numbers. My primary goal in the promotion process has been to assess the values that I espouse and if I supported those values across the last 5 years, even 13 years, of my career.
I’ve learned a lot about my colleagues and shared values, but what I didn’t realize is that we don’t all need to share the same values. We do, however, need to work towards respecting each other’s values. That point came clearly from Dr. Beronda Montgomery (“Mapping a Mentoring Roadmap and Developing a Supportive Network Strategic Career Advancement”), who I met at the HumetricsHSS workshop back in October 2017. Dr. Montgomery’s plant metaphors (see “From Deficits to Possibilities: Mentoring Lessons from Plants on Cultivating Individual Growth through Environmental Assessment and Optimization“) articulated the way in which I’ve been governing my career. At that workshop, groups were tasked with creating a set of values for “measuring” Humanities work. My group took Dr. Montgomery’s mentoring analogies to heart and created a plant that grows with the sun:
— Katherine D. Harris (@triproftri) October 6, 2017
We struggled to articulate this messy non-linear visualization of values, but in the end, determined that they were all intertwined and propelled by “public good.” At the back of my mind during each discussion through that 3-day workshop was the dossier I had just submitted and if I’d ascribed these values to my work over the last decade. I mean, I had mentors, loosely, but I really leaned heavily on the Digital Humanities community for guidance and support. Had I discovered Dr. Montgomery’s ideas too late? And did I really have a set of values that were effectively articulated in this promotion document? Whom did I trust and rely on to help me with this major stage in my career advancement? Has my work been transformative and compelling?
Dr. Christopher Long, one of the workshop’s organizers and PI on the project, highlights that this idea of mentoring has an effect on junior faculty during the lead up to tenure:
An approach to tenure and promotion rooted in structured mentoring conversations about how to chart a path to intellectual leadership will be enhanced by a nimble and varied array of values-based metrics that empower faculty to tell more textured stories about the impact of their work. If we are able to implement such an integrated strategy, we will be better positioned to encourage, in good faith, our junior faculty colleagues not to put off their best, most exciting work until after they are granted tenure. We owe it to them and to ourselves to reshape the tenure and promotion process so that it becomes a catalyst for the most compelling and transformative work of which we are capable.
Of course, I did this backwards because I started my career as a Digital Humanist and Textual Scholar of non-canonical literature and print culture of the British Romantic period. It wasn’t until I heard Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s talk at the Modern Language Association Convention (in 2011 or 2012?) about “doing the risky thing” that I realized my graduate school mentor, Dr. David Greetham, had been urging me to do this all along with my dissertation (2005) — a 12 chapter tome that also included a digital archive as its first chapter before UMI Dissertations really knew how to handle digital projects being submitted.
I followed the ideas. But, Textual Scholarship and Bibliography are often maligned in literary studies; on top of that, I added a focus on little-known and little-collected (and therefore, little-accessible) books called “literary annuals.” I did the risky thing! With the resulting book 10 years later, Forget Me Not, I also did the risky thing! With the Forgotten Gothic edition, I also did the risky thing! With Digital Humanities, I did the risky thing! With converting my focus to Digital Pedagogy, I did the risky thing again! But Dr. Fitzpatrick also urged to have someone back you up, a mentor. I had Dr. Greetham in grad school, but where was my back-up while an Assistant and then Associate Professor?
I didn’t have anyone who shared my values in my immediate department vicinity. With that being said, the Philosophy professors down the hall were/are fabulous! The University Library Board members were incredibly supportive! The Academic Senators were a wonderful resource! It wasn’t until I moved past tenure and promotion that I found a local colleague to really learn from — our newly-installed department chair who is now our college dean. If we don’t share the same values, she ultimately demonstrates that she understands and respects what I value. In our discussions, there’s no attempt to “win” at conversation. Instead, it’s an exploration of those values. That’s the first time I’ve had that modeled for me in such close proximity.
In short and concrete exemplars, that means when she can’t provide what I request (or even if she thinks it’s ridiculous), she problem solves tangential aspects of the issue: “No, I can’t do that for you or make it happen for you, but maybe we can consider this other thing to help you towards that goal through another path.” This could be as simple as: “well, your schedule shifted at the last minute due to enrollment needs and I realize that you’ve already created a complicated schedule for research meetings in those time slots to be held at your home office because your department office is noisy and the desk hurts your back, so let’s find you a quiet office with an ergonomic desk so you can hold meetings between classes on Skype with 6 people on this research project”; or “no, we can’t pay to bring in that scholar for a talk, but what if we found a way to fund a student poster session on the same topic?” or “we can’t give you $20,000 to fund a year-long celebration of Frankenstein, but let’s brainstorm on some smaller events that would cost less and get other colleges/units involved.”
So, I went into this bid for promotion to Full Professor having already learned a lot about metrics, but I exit it having articulated values and how to navigate the next stage of my career.
What follows is the overall candidate’s statement for promotion to full professor. We used to divide this document into three narrative statements: overall, research/scholarship, teaching. A savvy Philosophy colleague said “tell me a story.” That made sense! A narrative instead of a list of what I thought were successes. My statement is long at 10 pages, but I spent a lot of time getting feedback from multiple entities on campus, much of it conflicting, so I trashed all the drafts and went with my gut. (Unfortunately, the digital dossier platform didn’t allow for linking directly to the documents that I was referencing…which is, you know, somewhat counter-intuitive for having a digital dossier, but onward.)
You may want to wait until May 2018 to see if you’d like to emulate this style of narrative statement, but in the meantime, it might be helpful to view my journey through a career in a comprehensive, master’s-granting state university with a focus on values and not exclusively on metrics. (See the endnotes for my disavowals of the metrics that I felt I was forced to use.)
Candidate’s Statement for Promotion Review
Since September 2005, San José State University has provided me with the opportunity to explore both traditional and non-traditional venues for service, teaching, and scholarship. Because of this willingness in experimentation, by Fall 2012, I was poised to bring some of these experiments to fruition: as the Chair of the California Open Educational Resources Council (CSU Chancellor’s Office); in my capacity as General Editor of Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities (Modern Language Association 2018); in the creation, management, and implementation of project-based courses; and as a literary scholar with the monograph, Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annuals, 1823-1835 (2015 Ohio UP). Though I came to San José State as an expert in British Romantic literature (1775-1837), my service, teaching, and scholarship, is reliant upon Digital Humanities, my other speciality:
The digital humanities is an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Developing from an earlier field called humanities computing, today digital humanities embrace a variety of topics ranging from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines (such as history, philosophy, linguistics, literature, art, archaeology, music, and cultural studies) with tools provided by computing (such as data visualization, information retrieval, data mining, statistics, computational analysis) and digital publishing.1
As a scholar in a hotly-debated field that was evolving at a rapid pace, I established and maintain a research blog, TriprofTri, where my conference papers (some with video), recent scholarly adventures, and new ideas live for the scholarly community to review and comment upon. Due to this now-established voice, I became one of the key bloggers for FairMatter, a Norton Publishers blog about literature, teaching, and publishing history. Twitter, an abbreviated form of social media engagement, also became an immediate avenue for networking and conversing with Digital Humanities and, later, literary scholars interested in Digital Pedagogy as @triproftri. Both my blogging and tweeting have lead to numerous invitations to speak about my work on literary annuals, Gothic short stories, Digital Humanities, scholarly editing, and most frequently, Digital Pedagogy, as is evidenced in this dossier under RSCA Activity. My reputation in social media as a Digital Humanities and literary scholar lead to my scholarly success as a British Romanticist author: Ohio University Press was already aware of my reputation before contracting to publish my traditional, print monograph, Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual, 1823-1835.
I acknowledge that I take a risk by posting publicly about professional issues or half-formed scholarship or conference papers or teaching materials; but, I value the openness and revelatory nature of tweeting and blogging and have often continued those online conversations at conference panels and symposia. Inherently, this means that I welcome the critique of my ideas and accept that adversarial positions help to advance knowledge.
Since 2011 when I established my WordPress blog, I’ve had 83,606 hits total on 111 blog posts published in those 6 years — and have amassed 1446 Twitter followers based on more than 21,000 tweets.2 Though number of followers and likes and hits in this attention economy doesn’t necessary express quality engagement in my fields, I offer that the longitudinal effect of my blogging and tweeting becomes more apparent as my blog posts have begun to be cited in journal articles and print monographs:
On professional issues:
- Let’s Get Real with Numbers blog post (posted 6/24/13) continues to receive at least 20 hits per day; over 30,000 hits total since published; featured each Fall during hiring season as an example of the realities of becoming a member of the professoriate.
- Explaining DH in Promotion Documents blog post (posted 10/1/2012) was included in a special issue of Journal of Digital Humanities 1:4 (Fall 2012), is referenced in “Digital Scholarship and the Tenure and Promotion Process” (July 24, 2014) as a guide to articulating various aspects of digital scholarship, discussed at length in “Case Studies and Examples for Evaluating Digital Scholarship,” College Art Association News (Feb. 23, 2016) as part of the Journal of Digital Humanities collection, and is included in a list of digital scholarship Peer Review Guidelines.
On Digital Pedagogy:
- Acknowledgments on Syllabi blog post (posted 3/8/2012) was cited in “Forking Your Syllabus” Chronicle of Higher Education (March 22, 2012) and was the impetus for the current project, Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities.
- In September 2017, a group of faculty were tweeting about being inspired by my post about a recent student assignment on reading by candlelight (posted April 2017) – the post has received 113 views since April and demonstrates that what I post has an immediate impact on pedagogy and pedagogical conversations.
On Digital Humanities and literary scholarship:
- Silence in the Archives blog post (posted March 3, 2012) was the result of a long Twitter conversation among myself and Digital Humanities, literature scholars, and archival experts, wound up as Editors’ Choice for Digital Humanities Now, March 5, 2012, and most recently was cited in Susan Brown’s article “Networking Feminist Literary History: Recovering Eliza Meteyard’s Web” in Virtual Victorians: Networks, Connections, and Technologies, eds. Veronica Alfano and Andrew Stauffer, Palgrave (2015).
- Bootstrap Digital Humanities blog post (posted 2/5/2016) is the text of a talk given at UC Irvine was highlighted and then amplified by Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief Ben Schneider based on nominations by Editors-at-Large.
On Open Access
- Each year, OER (open educational resources) Week is celebrated at libraries, universities, and colleges to highlight the importance of creating free and open scholarship and pedagogical materials. As the chair of the California OER Council, I often disseminated information about the Council’s work through Twitter, including during OER Week. Most recently, on October 8, 2017, I tweeted links to the resources created by the Council in honor of OER Week. The tweet with a link to Case Studies of Faculty OER Use has received 473 impressions (views), 33 engagements (others have clicked or opened or interacted), 13 have clicked the link in my tweet — all within 24 hours. This tweet moves beyond simple attention economy (i.e., searching for “likes”).
- Due to my blog posts, I was invited and contracted to be a guest blogger for FairMatter, Norton Publishers, for 3 years; those posts resulted in my “MOOC Me” (March 19, 2013 ) being quoted in Poritiz & Rees; Education is Not an App: The Future of University Teaching in the Internet Age (Routledge, 2017; 65), a print monograph.
- My conferences and publications not only highlight all of the invited talks, but also the talks themselves, access to videos, and places where my talks or work have been mentioned or reviewed
When I arrived at SJSU, “Digital Humanities” as the name for this field was only just being coined by Dr. Ray Siemens, et. al., in order to liberate the field from its confusing and onerous moniker, Humanities Computing. As the conversations evolved in the field (mostly through blogs and Twitter), I learned that I, too, could adopt the moniker Digital Humanist based on my digital archive work in addition to being a scholar of the British Romantic literary period. I had already created a digital archive and had written about the imposition of technology on scholarship, teaching, and learning. As the field grew, my interest in several facets of producing scholarship that incorporated all of my relevant fields culminated in thinking through the development of the archive (that physical and metaphorical space housing historical materials) and the digital archive (the platform, coding, programming, and curating of that physical historical material). With two of my recent, brief encyclopedia articles, I was able to think about the “Archive” and then the “Digital Archive” as these two concepts developed along adjacent but almost conflicting paths that were decidedly contrary to library professionals as is evidenced in the Twitter and blog exchanges in “Silence in the Archives.”
But, there was a problem: any Digital Humanist who didn’t work at a research-intensive university was unable to realistically create and manage a Digital Humanities project for lack of funding. This meant that I needed to carve out a niche in Digital Humanities that matched my type of teaching-intensive university. To that end, in 2011, I began pushing Digital Humanists to consider including students in their research projects as partners in advancing knowledge. I called out to those faculty who desired to implement Digital Humanities strategies into their undergraduate courses but who didn’t have access to the funding or infrastructure required of Digital Humanities pedagogy. We began, instead, a movement towards “boot strap” Digital Humanities and eventually eschewed the phrase for a more inclusive field, Digital Pedagogy – a field dedicated to integrating, exploring, and intellectualizing technology and its tools within any university curriculum from community colleges to liberal arts colleges to the broad range of institutions similar to San José State, all without faculty having to declare themselves in Digital Humanities. I began giving talks about student learning goals as the primary impetus for constructing courses that implement digital pedagogy (see “It’s Not About the Tools,” a talk given at Austin College). My workshops focused on teaching collaboration based on the Association of American Colleges and University’s Teamwork Value Rubric and project management strategies. I encouraged faculty to think about three levels of Digital Pedagogy praxis: bloom and fade single day, low-stakes assignments; single class assignments that could be implemented and completed within 1 week; and scaffolded assignments or projects that spanned the entire semester — as is evidence in my article, “Play, Collaborate, Break, Build, Share: ‘Screwing Around’ in Digital Pedagogy.” 3:3 (Fall 2013) Polymath.
As my experience grew with these assignments, so too did my experimentation in my courses – sometimes not always with successful outcomes. Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities grew out of all of these experiments, workshops, talks, and symposia and turned into an open access, online collection of curated teaching materials for all disciplines in the Humanities specifically geared towards the very audience represented by SJSU, teaching-intensive faculty with an interest in innovative pedagogical strategies but little time to learn the bleeding edge uses of technology.
Myself, Matthew K. Gold, Rebecca Frost Davis, and Jentery Sayers signed a publishing contract with the Modern Language Association (MLA) under the proviso that they not lock the Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities behind a membership fee to the organization or an unaffordable subscription, especially since many of the journals we have all been publishing in over the years are subscriptions that SJSU’s King Library cannot afford to maintain. The MLA went one step further in the spirit of honoring open access and agreed to publish a completely open digital project with unfettered access for any user in addition to working through sustainability and digital infrastructure issues to ensure that the collection remains viable despite shifts in technology – all important elements that I learned while chairing the University Library Board (ULB) at SJSU and running the Open Access Task Force (2010) that resulted in Academic Senate policy on open access scholarship.
Even though the number of academics experimenting with new modes of digital teaching and learning is increasing dramatically, scholarly examples of digital pedagogy remain limited. Aside from rare instances such as Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, which has been an important locus for digital presentations of digital pedagogy work for many years, most cases in which scholars have attempted to collect their pedagogical work into a coherent shape have been in the form of collected editions of text-based essays—secondhand forms of analysis that are effective in presenting an instructor’s perspective on a class but less so in showcasing student work and highlighting the digital forms it takes. Furthermore, such works typically exist in an isolated state, rather than in an open-access space dedicated entirely to the scholarship of teaching and learning. They also tend to privilege the physical classroom over emerging domains for hands-on learning, including the humanities lab, the library, and the open Web.
Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities seeks to redress this situation by providing a radically new presentation of student work and model assignments that foreground the very aspects of networked communication that make digital pedagogy projects so compelling in the first place. This collection aims to make visible what traditional methods of publishing the scholarship of teaching and learning have hidden from view—the possibilities of digital technology embodied by this work. Currently, the entire manuscript is being finalized for copyediting by the MLA staff; in Spring 2018, the four editors and MLA staff will begin to build the digital platform that will facilitate robust searching by any user. We expect the entire collection to be finalized by December 2018. However, because the collection has been openly edited on GitHub and openly peer reviewed on the MLA Humanities Commons, the collection is already being referenced, cited, and studied for its innovative publishing and editorial strategies. Organized around keywords that are then accompanied by 10 curated pedagogical artifacts, the collection offers a variety of materials for faculty from community colleges to research-intensive universities, none of whom need to declare themselves Digital Humanists in order to implement the materials. With over 60 keywords, 60+ curators (i.e., authors), and 600 pedagogical artifacts, the collection has already fulfilled its promise to provide immediately useful teaching materials for any Humanities curriculum. Angela Gibson, MLA Scholarly Communications Director, discusses the relevance of this project in a letter included in my dossier. The project was awarded an SJSU RSCA University-wide award for a Fall 2016 course release, during which time myself and the other 3 editors assessed the entire collection for issues with representations of diversity (of curators, of keywords, of artifact authors, of institutional representation) — in print publication terms, we closely read through 800 pages of pre-copyedited material to determine if our collection was as far-reaching as we had promised.3
The University Library Board service, my ongoing participation in the English Department’s Curriculum Committee, my past experience as review editor of digital projects for the Society for the Study of History, Authorship, Readership, and Publishing, and my editorial responsibilities with Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities have afforded me with many opportunities to learn from successes and failures about leadership, open peer review, editorial workflow, and collaboration – all of which came in handy when in January 2014 I was hired to lead the California Open Educational Resources Council (CA-OERC), an important State Legislature-funded project to help not only San José State University’s students, but also students across 130 campuses in the California State University, University of California, and California Community College systems. Three years of work (in a 12-month appointment) concluded with the White Paper: OER Adoption Study: Using Open Educational Resources in the College Classroom as well as the Final Progress Report of the California Open Educational Resources Council — all of the findings and goals met are apparent in that Final Progress Report. The primary goal of the Council was to aid faculty in the selection, adoption, integration, and implementation of open educational resources (OER) textbooks. This meant studying the needs of more than 80,000 faculty across all three segments in order to assess the best practices while keeping in mind academic freedom, quality of textbooks, and political focus of each segment.
Managing a group of 9 faculty, 3 from each segment, was at first truly collaborative and open. As is attested to in all of the accompanying letters from UC, CCC, and CSU Council members, the Council became politicized by state legislators, lobbyists, and disagreeable factions who wanted control of the $5million from state funds and matching $5million from both the Gates and Hewlett Foundations. Regardless of these hurdles, the Council established OER guidelines, developed best practices, created a rigorous review process of more than 300 OER textbooks (reviewed by appropriate faculty in each of the 3 segments), ran both in-person and online workshops, established a series of informational videos on various elements of OER textbook adoption (including “How to read a digital textbook”), all while still reserving $3million for the next legislative initiative to provide grants to individual CCC and CSU campuses for this work. The CA-OERC gave way to providing competitively funded grants to any of the 110 CCC and CSU campuses who applied for a $50,000 grant from the $3million afforded by state bill AB 798. I created the review process, review documents, and review protocols in collaboration with Gerard Hanley and Leslie Kennedy (both of the CSU Chancellor’s Office); and I coordinated the reviewers and provided feedback to all of the potential project managers on each campus. Announced in Oct 2016, $1.6 million in awards to 25 CCC and 19 CSU will save students enrolled in courses that adopt OER textbooks more than $9.3million with approximately 100,000 students impacted. Council members’ letters included in this dossier provide details about my success in light of the difficulties inherent to a broad, statewide initiative. Also in an attached letter, Romey Sabalius, as a Statewide Academic Senator [now on the CSU Board of Trustees], commends one of my early presentations to the CSU Statewide Senate.
In the midst of the CA-OERC leadership work and editorial duties for Digital Pedagogy and the Humanities, I remained current in my fields for British Romanticism, history of the book, and textual studies by publishing encyclopedia articles on “literary annual” and the genre’s primary 19th-century publisher, “Rudolph Ackermann,” both of which articles were stepping stones into my long-standing project, Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual, 1823-1835.4 Based on my early work in a digital archive of the same name, 8 years of archival research, and a long view of the impact of a particular genre of periodical publication in the early 19th-century, this book focuses on a literary history of the British publishing industry as subversively fostering the popularity of women poets and the poetess aesthetic. Far from typical literary criticism, the book provides context for a little-known research area in British Romanticism, with focus on non-canonical authors and the early 19th-century printing industry. Because the monograph delves into several areas, including bibliography, textual studies, periodical studies, history of the book studies, feminist studies, feminist recovery projects, Gothic studies, short story genre, women’s poetry, and history of book publishing, it has received numerous reviews in a variety of journals and newspapers, including CHOICE Connect (Nov 2015, 53:3), Victorian Poetry (53:3 Autumn 2015); The Times Literary Supplement (Dec 2, 2015, “Delicacy above all”); Wordsworth Circle (46:4, 2015); Romantic Circles (Aug 30, 2016); Publications of the Bibliographical Society of America (110:3 Sept 2016); Studies in English Literature (56:4 Autumn 2016); Victorian Periodicals Review (49:4 Winter 2016); Victorian Studies (59:2 Winter 2017); Nineteenth Century Contexts (39:3 2017); The Year’s Work in English Studies (2017); Year’s Work in English Studies 2017 (85-86). I embarked on a publicity tour and made sure to publish edited excerpts (with the press’ permission) in open access, online journals such as “The Legacy of Rudolph Ackermann & Nineteenth-Century British Literary Annuals” [excerpted from Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual 1823-1831, Ohio UP, 2015] for BRANCH, ed. Dino Felluga. Purdue University, 2015. The book, though published only 2 years ago, is already receiving citations in other print works.
Based on this monograph, my work with CA-OERC, and the Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities project, I received the College of Humanities & the Arts Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award in 2016. In addition, because of my success with the Forget Me Not monograph, I began work on another book project and was awarded one of the Emeritus & Retired Faculty Association Faculty Research & Creative Activity Award for travel to archives — part of that resulting research will be published in a journal and an edited collection (2 articles currently under contract and due for publication 2018) while I work towards a longer book manuscript. Finally, I presented at the prestigious Book Club of California on “The Rise of the Literary Annual, Powerful Femininity, and Beautiful Books,” Exhibit & Talk, San Francisco, Feb 22, 2016, and was subsequently invited to give talks at Columbia University and the prestigious research community associated with the New York Public Library later in 2016, all of which are listed in my Presentations in this dossier. My work prior to 2012 on literary annuals also continues to be cited in print publications, including 14 citations of my 2007 article ““Borrowing, Altering and Perfecting the Literary Annual Form – or What It is Not: Emblems, Almanacs, Pocket-books, Albums, Scrapbooks and Gifts Books.”
The H-Index (basically, a citation tracker that can be reviewed through Google Scholar) has created a dilemma for the Humanities because citation doesn’t necessarily denote quality or engagement in the field. However, it’s currently the only metrics available to us. To discuss this dilemma, I was invited to attend a Mellon Foundation-funded workshop, HumetricsHSS, October 4-7, 2017 on establishing values (instead of metrics) for Humanities research and scholarship – the results of that workshop have already been shared with our Dean and the chair of the College Research Committee in the hopes that as our campus begins to provide deeper assessment of the value of our research, teaching, and scholarship, College of Humanities & the Arts can provide a more textured story about the value of our college’s activities beyond citation indexes.
As I moved deeper into managing these enormous service and research projects, the challenge in my pedagogy became incorporating the tenets of Digital Humanities as well as what I had learned from project management strategies. Since Fall 2012, I have focused on fostering curiosity, exploration, “screwing around,” productive failure, and project management strategies — all part of the AACU’s high impact educational practices. As noted in my article for Polymath, though, implementing these practices is not impossible but sometimes experiences hurdles not reserved for non-Digital Pedagogy. With that being said, my pedagogy has a reciprocal relationship with my scholarship and research. For instance, my Forget Me Not book is linked to experiential learning assignments such as using a 19th-century printing press to develop a sense of the pace of 19th-century information dissemination (English 181, Digital Dickens).
I experimented with course delivery through technology, more specifically when our then-President embroiled SJSU’s STEM programs in MOOCs. What I found was that asynchronous delivery of some parts of curriculum can work but that delivery needs to come in a much more highly structured hybrid environment. My first foray into a completely online delivery format came from teaching SJSU i-School’s Digital Humanities course. My first attempt at teaching a completely online, asynchronous course heralded some successful moments as discussed in the peer review for that course; however, teaching this course made clear that asynchronous delivery of course materials requires an almost perpetual online presence as well as further innovation in content delivery, such as using lecture videos (with subtitles, embedded links, images beyond PowerPoint slides) and engaged through a follow-up activity. The course included real-world assignments such writing a Digital Humanities grant according to the guidelines offered by the Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities. With this online course, I realized that I appreciated the in-person courses and instead delved into the possibility of constructing a hybrid course for General Education. The English 10, Great Works of Literature experiment required much more help from IT and a heavier workload for faculty than suggested originally by proponents of MOOCs.
In my face-to-face courses, I heeded the suggestions of peer reviews while in others, I began including scaffolded projects that required students to learn true collaboration and team work. These endeavors moved slowly by adding elements with each successive semester that I taught the course. I instituted this project-based curriculum in my early courses in British Romanticism but have not taught the undergraduate British Romantics course nor the graduate course in 6 years (the period under review). I have been able to implement strategies for integrating technology in composition, gaming, literary criticism, British survey, 19th-century novel, gothic novel, and a graduate Digital Humanities course to mixed reviews from the students.
My pedagogy has evolved away from the lengthy lecture in class and instead focuses on students exploring information (specifically in upper division English major courses). I learned from the English 10, Great Works of Literature hybrid experiment that course delivery through video lectures worked for some students but not others. Instead, I began instituting a 15-minute mini-lecture for most days with a longer lecture on the first day of a new literary topic. With the Concept Presentation assignment (see Engl. 153 British Novel before 1900) that provides activities to help students perform deep, scholarly research using freely available tools through Google’s N-Gram viewer, the Oxford English Dictionary Database, and various historical databases, archives, and websites — and then present that material using Pecha Kucha strategies (a presentation paradigm that forces students away from bullet point PowerPoint slides and encourages an inquisitive presentation).
With many of my courses, before the stabilization of Canvas on our campus, I created and maintained ADA-compliant WordPress sites to disseminate and archive course materials, and long ago committed to a paper-free classroom.5 I hear those students who prefer hour-long lectures and paper handouts. At the outset of every semester, I discuss transparency with my students, including the rationale for moving towards Canvas as a mode of delivery and archiving of our class. To that end, we also discuss the mini-lecture format, assignments, and grading rationale, especially the rubric for grading their weekly discussion posts (based on points 1-10) and the participation grade rubric (see the latest version included in the materials for Engl 153, Fall 2017). I instituted this rubric in order to facilitate an understanding of writing requirements as well as intellectual requirements. Using an online portal for the syllabus allows it to be a living, breathing document throughout the semester as well as a record of the interesting class discussion — for I record links, queries, interesting materials on the syllabus or an adjacent page in order to archive our class discussions. We also disseminate their ideas through discussion posts to enhance the class discussions as well as perform a form of peer review of their writing.
One course in particular, English 101 Introduction to Literary Criticism, has been the one required course I have taught frequently enough to revise teaching materials based on student feedback. Students must come to this challenging course proficient in writing and understanding literary elements sufficiently, hence the pre or co-requisite of Engl. 100W. However, students passing 100W doesn’t guarantee that they are proficient in either of these matters. I spend the first week hosting writing workshops and providing study skills for reading comprehension of complex texts. Students are charged with writing 400-500 well-written words in the literary critical model of that week. Combining the writing and literary elements with literary criticism provides students the opportunity to view the world through different lenses, which is our goal with this course. Each time I teach this course, I slightly revise the requirements according to student feedback, e.g., the major assignment due at week 12 instead of week 16 in order to allow students an opportunity to revise a portion of the assignment after it has been graded. Grades for this course typically averaged C+ in years past. The class average (discounting the 2 who didn’t submit the major project) for Spring 2017 improved to a B-/B with more final grades in the A range than any other semester.
Additionally, I have embraced the creation of new courses such as English 113 Gothic Novel and Horror Fiction and the technology-heavy English 108 Gaming & Narrative. In both of these courses, I reserve a 3-week block in the curriculum for student-selected games and literary texts. I’ve heeded the advice of my peer reviewers and have engaged in informal conversations about important courses, such as English 101 to revise textbook selections and implement a dual day of me introducing a critical model on the first day and students working through the application of that critical model on the second day. Responses to Drs. Miller and Fleck’s peer reviews are included in this dossier — the former response focusing on further context about the course and the latter in dispute of Dr. Fleck’s dismissal of my graduate students’ ability to produce a peer-reviewed article (which they did!).
Perhaps my most successful courses are those that are directly related to Digital Humanities, history of the book, and adjacent to my British Romantic literary field.6 In Spring 2013 for English 204, graduate students took up an ongoing project about 3 Modernist texts (1920s) by a poet and an artist. The Beardstair project, as it came to be called, engaged students in true collaborative assignments in which they learned about digital archiving, traditional archival practices, history of the Modernist artist’s book, project management, Digital Humanities, and, of course, the Modernist literary period. The goal of the course was to create and submit a digital archive to an online journal for peer review and eventual publication. As happens with Digital Humanities projects, the focus of the project shifted away from producing a final digital archive project because we ran into issues with resources: SJSU refused our request for server space; we weren’t able to purchase a subscription to the ready-made platform that would best suit our project; and we didn’t have any technologists on the teams to build a platform from scratch. With my guidance, students controlled the project from the ground up and built upon the historical research of the previous Beardstair group. The goals shifted to publishing a history of the project to preserve a record of the project’s iterations — as is recommended for all Digital Humanities projects. Process articles are integral to preserving all of the scholarly work that is typically invisible in the production of a Digital Humanities project. David Coad, in his letter as a former student, writes about the successes (and pride) of publishing the jointly authored peer-reviewed article, “BeardStair: A Student-Run Digital Humanities Project History, Fall 2011 to May 16, 2013,” Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy 4 (2013).7 Aside from this success, students were rightly concerned about how they were going to be assessed and graded for this course. At first, we discussed them grading each other based on the AACU Teamwork Value Rubric. On the last day of class, we discussed the grading criteria and structure and settled on a criteria that was more amenable than grading one another — the students had full control of their education in this case; our discussion included reviewing the English Department’s MA graduate program student learning goals (see their reflective blog posts).
English 181, Digital Dickens, in Spring 2017, was my next opportunity to teach a Digital Humanities project-based course. The course relied heavily on SJSU’s Special Collections and were treated to 3 out-of-class (properly authorized) field trips, including a trip to a 19th-century printing press lab and a trip to the Green Library at Stanford. Abigail Droge, a Ph.D. candidate in Stanford’s English program, shadowed our class and enriched our discussions — see her evaluation on teaching with technology and challenging students in a letter included in this dossier. The innovative assignments are attached to the materials in “Classes Taught at SJSU.”
Since Fall 2012, I have taught 6 upper division elective courses, 2 graduate courses in Digital Humanities, 6 composition courses (usually assigned within 2-4 weeks of the semester’s start due to course cancellations), 2 general education courses, 3 lower division courses required in the English major, and 6 versions of a required course (Engl. 101). Some of my teaching assignments have been cited in print publications (“Tweeting as a Character“). Quite a few of my assignments challenge students to think critically no matter the imposition of technology (Engl. 108, Critical Review Presentation and the House of Leaves scaffolded project). As students and their preparation evolved over the years, I have assessed my pedagogy and adjusted my assignments accordingly. For example, because not every moment with technology is productive and students often lose sight of their reliance on technology, we performed a No Digital Day (me too) assignment to assess that dependence and reliance (see Engl. 1A materials). A combination of technology and traditional assignments helped with bringing critical thinking to students’ use of technology: In Engl. 56B British Literature Survey 1800-present in Fall 2014, students recorded their performance of four poems (a recitation) across the semester; by the 3rd recitation, they began engaging with the medium more creatively, especially since we were working with 20th century poetry by this time (see assignment).8
I have considered student feedback via the SOTES on several matters. For instance, English 101 Introduction to Literary Criticism makes use of SJSU databases and therefore lowers the cost of textbooks in our required course.9 Engl. 153 (British Novel before 1900) and Engl. 113 (Gothic Novel) also make use of the Oxford English Dictionary Database at King Library for student research — to teach them to use authoritative sources, though they are invited to begin with exploratory sources such as Wikipedia. Because the Annotated Bibliography assignment in Engl. 101 has been enhanced to account for the 1-unit increase for this course (from 3 units to 4 units), I am currently attending one of the Writing Across the Curriculum workshops on Annotated Bibliographies.10 Also because I have become a robust user of Canvas, but some of the features still escape my knowledge and some of my organizational strategies might be confusing to student users, I’m also currently attending a Writing Across the Curriculum workshop on Advanced Canvas implementation with the hope that I can utilize Canvas’ learning outcomes feature in association with the grading rubric feature for each assignment — which will inherently make Canvas interaction for students easier to see how they are being graded on each assignment (without having to search for the rubric among our other Canvas pages).
While my SOTES11 may not always reflect the benefits of my pedagogy immediately, I include detailed letters from former students to contextualize a longitudinal point of view. I also point to Dr. Jeffrey Drouin’s letter providing a larger context about the reciprocal relationship between my pedagogy and Digital Humanities ethos. Dr. Drouin also notes my commitment to service in the field, a commitment I share on our campus by participating in the search committees for our new dean of King Library in 2016 and currently for our new College of Humanities and the Arts dean. All of my experience led to an invitation from CSU San Marcos to perform an external review of their Master of Arts in Literature and Writing Program in Fall 2016. Working with the University Library Board, our department curriculum committee, University Curriculum Committee, and the Academic Senate have prepared me to collaborate with and honor the values of my colleagues across disciplines.
If reading my dossier in order of progression, through the years, reviewers will note the development of ideas and reciprocal relationship involving Digital Humanities, Digital Pedagogy, archives (both literal and metaphorical), digital archives, the role of feminism, British 19th-century literature, and professional issues that are inherent to San José State University’s mission. Each talk, conference paper, blog post, keynote, symposium, publication, and Twitter conversation highlights the interaction and immediacy of the Digital Humanities field, and by that virtue, Digital Pedagogy and literature studies. In other words, everything is connected, and inherently and substantially connected to the students here at San José State University. My record of research, service, and teaching are apparent in the attached dossier materials in this new digital format. My hope is that the reviewers are able to engage with my work in a holistic review of my entire career.
1 The Wikipedia entry was authored as a collaborative effort by Digital Humanists, including Matthew Kirschenbaum, Stephen Ramsay, Kenneth Price, Julia Flanders, and others – the senior scholars in the field. It’s as comprehensive as possible. See also Matthew Kirschenbaum’s article, “What is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” (ADE Bulletin 20 ). The article appears in the journal produced by literature studies’ governing body, the Modern Language Association.
2 As valuable as blogging and tweeting have become to my work, it is inherently difficult to assess the impact of either method without resorting to some form of metrics and relying on citation, user hits, or re-tweets. I offer a few highlights for both platforms with the intention of demonstrating that these seemingly ephemeral forms of engagement allow a faculty member at a teaching-intensive university to engage and direct conversations with other faculty from all over the world.
3 That 800-page pdf copy of Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities is available in this dossier; however, I encourage you to look through both the MLA open peer review version as well as the GitHub version. The final version will take ethical and efficacious user interface into consideration for optimal searchability of the entire collection.
4 The digital iBook version of the Forget Me Not book is included with this dossier; however, that file requires downloading and opening to a Mac product. A print copy of the Forget Me Not book has been deposited with my department chair and department RTP committee for review.
5 Unfortunately, Canvas settings don’t allow for a public view of non-student course materials, except the home page (which is the syllabus on all of my Canvas courses).
6 Though I have not taught a graduate or undergraduate course in British Romanticism in 6 years, I am currently serving on 2 MA thesis committees.
7 Though I had in the past participated in this journal’s Advisory Board and have reviewed article submissions, I had nothing to do with the acceptance of the Beardstair article. I participated with this journal because I was, in the beginning, one of the few faculty who worked in the field, and I recommended this journal to the Beardstair students for publication because I was familiar with the mission of the journal to go beyond the typical types of journal articles.
8 All students are given the option for using YouTube and WordPress’ heaviest privacy settings for their blogs and videos; in some cases, students provided only me with access to their materials (through a link); now, with Canvas, we can embed a video or WordPress blog directly into their discussion posts.
9 Done after consultation with Dr. Revathi Krishnaswamy and further reinforced while chairing the CA-OERC.
10 All of the above assignments are included in this dossier with the course under “Classes Taught at SJSU.” EFaculty doesn’t allow for linking directly to these materials from the narrative, unfortunately, for ease of reference.
11 In some courses, especially the Spring 2017 Engl. 101, the return rate for SOTES falls under the guidelines for valuing the feedback. For example, for Spring 2017 Engl. 101, out of 24 students only 10 students completed the SOTES which arguably skews some of the results; though I earnestly value the feedback on issues such as returning feedback in a timely fashion, which is a dilemma for most faculty at SJSU considering the teaching and service load, it can be difficult to assess the need for substantive changes because not all students fill out SOTES. Note that because I use Canvas grade book extensively, my students can watch the progress of their final grade before the final exam/project is graded — and when that final project/exam is graded and input into Canvas grade book, students know their overall grades prior to the university’s release of grades. Students have mentioned that they don’t feel the need to fill out SOTES because of this.