#GWDH15: the Disrupting DH Symposium at GW

Disrupting DH Roundtable. Photo credit: M.W. Bychowski.

The GW Digital Humanities Symposium: DISRUPTING DH took place in the Jack Morton Auditorium on Friday, January 30, 2015 9am – 4pm. The event was organized by Jonathan Hsy, Founding Co-Director of the GW Digital Humanities Institute (the other DHI Founding Co-Director Alexa Alice Joubin is currently away on a Fulbright in the UK) as well as by the DHI Graduate Assistants M.W. Bychowski and Shyama Rajendran.

DISRUPTING DH brought together academics, activists, and publishers to explore critical approaches to the Digital Humanities (DH). DH is an interdisciplinary area that uses digital media to examine the arts and humanities and also vice versa: using creative and humanist methods to teach and analyze digital media and its use.

The symposium was GW Digital Humanities Institute (GW DHI), in collaboration with the Department of English, Creative Writing, Department of History, Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare Program, Disability Support Services, GW Libraries, GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, and the DH Graduate Working Group. Special thanks should also be given to the many GW English graduate volunteers who helped work the front desk.

The heavy lifting of the symposium was done by the invited speakers, Angela Bennett Segler (creator of Material Piers), Eileen Joy (Director, punctum books), Dorothy Kim (medievalist, feminist, digital humanist), Roopika Risam (Co-founder, Postcolonial Digital Humanities), Jesse Stommel (Director, Hybrid Pedagogy), and Suey Park (Co-founder, Killjoy Prophets). It is a great pleasure to set up spaces then bring in brilliant thinkers to play and start revolutions.

Jesse Stommel presents on pedagogy. Photo credit: M.W. Bychowski.

Disrupting DH began at 9:00 with registration, coffee, and bagels. Jonathan Hsy took the stage at 9:40 for introductory remarks. Diane H. Cline (History, Director of Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration) and Jeffrey Cohen (Director, GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute) introduced the “ARCHIVE” panel featuring Angela Bennett Segler, “Medium Data–Machine Reading, Manual Correction and the End of the Archive” and Dorothy Kim, “Disrupting the Archive: The Ethics of Digital Archives.” [Read more about this session here, with twitter archive here.]

From 11:00-12:00, the “CLASSROOM” panel challenged traditional notions about pedagogy and technology. Holly Dugan (Acting Director, Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare Program) and Kavita Daiya (Director, MA Program in English) introduced Jesse Stommel’s presentation on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) entitled “Stand and Unfold Yourself: MOOCs, Networked Learning, and the Digital Humanities” and Roopika Risam presented a talk “Towards a Postcolonial Digital Pedagogy.”

After a short break for lunch, the symposium returned for the third panel on the “IVORY TOWER.” Dolsy Smith (GW Libraries, Librarian for the Humanities) and Jennifer Chang (Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Founder and Co-Chair, Kundiman) introduced the final pair of panelists: Eileen Joy, who spoke about “The Importance of Illegitimacy” and Suey Park, whose talk was entitled “Theorizing Transformative Justice in a Digital Era.”

The day concluded with a roundtable that included all of the speakers, co-moderated by Jonathan Hsy (GW DH Institute) and Lori Brister (Founder, GW Graduate DH Working Group). Questions were fielded by the speakers, audience, and online participants. At last, everyone came together for a bounty of food at a reception catered by Whole Foods.

Disrupting DH audience members on computers. Photo credit: M.W. Bychowski.
The event was extensively documented and connected to a wide variety of digital media. On the day, audience members communicated each other and others through twitter (#gwdh15 and #DisDH). These tweets have since been collected and curated by a variety of conference participants: Disrupting the Digital Humanities: #GWDH15 by Alexis Lothian, #Disrupting DH @ George Washington U by M.W. Bychowski, and Disrupting the Archive by Angie Bennett Segler.
In addition to the tweeters, bloggers took on the task of relating their experiences of the event to a wider public. These bloggers include a number of PhD students in English at GW: Sam Yates wrote a piece on The Efficacy of Disrupting DH: Disability Access, Animacy, and Community. Alan Montroso wrote Digital Compassion: Reflections of Disrupting DH #GWDH15. M.W. Bychowski wrote #Disrupting Digital Humanities at the GWU.
We hope that the conversations that began at the symposium will continue online, in print, around the department, and beyond.
If you created a digital record or archive for DISRUPTING DH and would like it to be included in the list, please contact M.W. Bychowski (Mbychows@gwu.edu).
GW DHI Co-Director Jonathan Hsy. Photo credit: M.W. Bychowski.

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