Introduction – Jacqueline Wernimont and Elizabeth Losh
- Ix – This volume also emerges in an era when the tasks of intersectional feminisms, of coalition building, and of communal care and repair are recognized as increasingly important areas in the humanities.3 Yet as women and feminists who have been active in the digital humanities since it was called “humanities computing,” we are often astonished to see forms of intellectual engagement that confront structural misogyny and racism relegated to the status of fringe concerns.
- Xi – Both proponents and opponents of DH seem able to agree on one common position: histories of feminist and antiracist work in DH do not deserve a place at the table. By contrast, our argument is that feminisms have been and must continue to be central to the identity and the methodologies of the digital humanities as a field.
- For future digital humanities work to create what is possible and combat what should be impermissible, we believe that intersectional feminism, which acknowledges the interactions of multiple power structures (including race, sexuality, class, and ability), must be central within digital humanities practices.
- Xii – In our own work we have also noted the striking absence of engagement with human-computer interaction (HCI), science and technology studies (STS), and media studies in the digital humanities as a field. Useful trends from this body of criticism have all had notable feminist proponents working across disciplines: Lucille Suchman on situated action, Leigh Star on infrastructure, Genevieve Bell on mess, Mary Ann Doane and Lori Emerson on media archaeology, Melissa Gregg on affect theory, Lisa Cartwright on the interactions of apparatuses and bodies, Judy Wajcman on digital labor, and Marisa Parham on black literary embodiment, haunting, and space/time disjunctions, to name just a few
- Xii-xiii – Having some interest in mess as an area of inquiry is fundamental to understanding how technologies, people, resources, and networks work, and sometimes don’t work, together. As computer scientist Paul Dourish and anthropologist Genevieve Bell write in their analysis of the cultural imaginaries of ubiquitous computing, “mess” reveals that “the practice of any technology in the world is never quite as simple, straightforward, or idealized as it is imagined to be” and that “technological realities are always contested.”
- Xiii – Despite an often grim environment for equity, diversity, inclusion, and participation in the humanities within increasingly constrained research universities and the political institutions that support them, we are hopeful that the digital humanities are finally maturing from their critically naive beginnings. This volume reflects how feminist collectives and communities are making a difference in changing the digital humanities in particular and institutional cultures generally . . ..
- Bodies of Information is organized with keywords that work as “boundary objects,” in the sense that they are shared resources that support systems of meaning used in different ways by different communities.16 First theorized by the late science and technology studies scholar Susan Leigh Star and her collaborators, boundary objects are plastic, interpreted differently, and adapted to express emergent thinking across communities and contexts while also maintaining sufficient conceptual integrity for common understanding. Recognizing that keywords like “materiality” and “embodiment” operate as boundary objects gives us a way of understanding the kinds of work such concepts do in creating identities, knitting communities, and suggesting relationships between seemingly disparate ideas.
- I see boundary objects as operating as exteriorizing boundaries rather than interiorizing boundaries
- As Star and her collaborators so powerfully demonstrated, boundary objects play a pivotal role in the creation of reality. An array of boundary objects is possible. In our work we use the acronym MEALS as shorthand for a feminist emphasis on how the “material, embodied, affective, labor-intensive, and situated character of engagements with computation can operate experientially for users in shared spaces.”
Toward a Queer Digital Humanities – Bonnie Ruberg, Jason Boyd, and James Howe
- 109 – This essay offers our vision for a “queer digital humanities,” that is, a digital humanities that is invested in queer issues and has queer thinking at its core. Our goal is not to dictate what forms this queer digital humanities must take. Rather, starting from a survey of existing queer DH scholarship, our goal is to suggest ways forward, to open up queerness in the digital humanities as a space of possibility.
- We are far from alone in calling for an increased investment in social criticism in DH (e.g., Bailey; Crompton, Siemens, Arbuckle, and INKE; Koh; Liu), and others before us, such as Kara Keeling in her writing on a “Queer OS,” have explored ways in which queerness might reimagine the cultural narratives that surround computational technologies. Our intervention is to build from this work in order to argue for positioning queerness as a central element of DH methodologies.
- 109-110 – Archives, visualizations, and other interfaces created by digital humanists often understand themselves as direct windows onto knowledge, offering democratizing access to objective truths. Data, so the saying goes, don’t lie. As feminist scholars of digital cultures know well, however, computational tools have profound political implications. Interfaces structure meaning; visualizations craft interpretation. Any discussions of technology must account for problems of access, both to devices and to education. We believe that this is a crucial time for bringing queer perspectives to the digital humanities, specifically because this is a moment of change.
Is Twitter Any Place for a [Black Academic] Lady? – Marcia Chatelain
- 181 – As the digital humanities is a space in which women of color scholars are shaping and defining, it is also another space in which these same scholars are vulnerable to the kinds of marginalization that has long characterized the academy. As this process unfolds and changes, it is important to remember that all scholars with a computer are not involved in the digital humanities, and all digital projects do not democratize access to knowledge. Truly democratic spaces allow knowledge to be shared without fear of repercussion or backlash.
- 182 – Since August 2014, the #Syllabus movement has grown and expanded; it is now shorthand for the ways that scholars—many of them women of color—use the digital landscape to intervene in moments of crisis and remind the academy of our roles and responsibilities to a broader world. The circulation of the #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus, #BaltimoreSyllabus, #SayHerNameSyllabus, and #TrumpSyllabus2.0 and the publication of the book Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence point to ways that scholars have seen the use of the hashtag as an efficient use of Twitter to support social justice–oriented teaching, as well as interdisciplinary cooperation.9 As was the case of #FergusonSyllabus, the syllabi hashtags also help media outlets identify scholars who can provide years of research and teaching expertise to radio listeners and news watchers