DH + Dissertations

Following our conversation I thought this was interesting. I just received this email for the upcoming MLA conference about DH and taking action. It’s an interesting read, especially since it is about dissertations and creating/doing/making as well as theorizing.

We are very pleased to announce our second DHSI@MLA offering, “Digital Humanities (DH) and / in the Dissertation,” at MLA 2016 in Austin, Texas. This session is geared toward those working on dissertations currently or in the future, those who supervise or review dissertations, and those interested in the intersections between the digital humanities and graduate studies more broadly. We welcome (and are ourselves) participants from all career stages, including students, librarians, staff, researchers, faculty members, and others. Please join us for what is sure to be an exciting session!

Digital Humanities (DH) and/in the Dissertation

MLA 2016, Session 1
Thursday January 7th, 8.30am-11.30amPlease note that all registrations are handled through the MLA conference site.

Sponsored by the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, the Public Knowledge Project, the Maker Lab in the Humanities, the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, and the Implementing New Knowledge Environments project, this workshop offers participants both theoretical and hands-on considerations of a number of innovative ways in which the Digital Humanities (DH) can affect, reflect, or otherwise shape the PhD dissertation. The session is structured around an opening talk, two sessions of breakout groups (some seminar, some hands on), and group discussion as follows: Alyssa Arbuckle (U Victoria) and Liz Grumbach (TAMU), “Ctrl+Alt+Diss,” Melissa Dalgleish (York U) and Daniel Powell (King’s College London, U Victoria), “Beyond the Protomonograph: Digital Models for the Dissertation,” Laura Estill (TAMU), “DH After the Dissertation: Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowships,” Brian Owen (Simon Fraser U Library, Public Knowledge Project), “On-Campus Spaces and Services for Digital Dissertation Work,” Jentery Sayers (U Victoria), “Versioning Your Dissertation with Git,” Lynne Siemens (U Victoria), ““Project Management for Graduate Students and Early Career Scholars.”

We are exceptionally pleased to be working with the MLA Office of Scholarly Communication on this workshop.


  1. 8.30-9.10: Welcome, Brief Opening Talks
  2. 9.15-10.00: Breakout Session 1
  3. 10.15-11.00: Breakout Session 2 (a repeat, so attendees can engage two topics)
  4. 11.10-11.30: Wrap-up and Full Group Discussion

Breakout sessions:

  1. Ctrl+Alt+Diss (Alyssa Arbuckle & Liz Grumbach): How are scholarly communication practices changing? What implications does the current trend toward social knowledge creation have for more traditional academic pursuits, like the dissertation? How is scholarly output transforming in the digital world, and what does that mean for current and future dissertators? We will explore these topics within the broader digital humanities realm, as well as consider alternatives to traditional academic practices and trajectories. This workshop is geared toward undergraduate and graduate students, alt-ac practitioners and those curious about the alt-ac track, as well as individuals interested in digital scholarly communication and social knowledge creation in general.
  2. Beyond the Protomonograph: Digital Models for the Dissertation (Melissa Dalgliesh & Daniel Powell): This session is designed to provide an overview of current activity in the field of digital dissertations in humanities contexts. We will provide numerous examples of such projects, with the aim of illustrating how advanced graduate students are creating PhD capstone projects that effectively integrate digital technologies generally, and the digital humanities more specifically. The first part of this workshop will highlight between three and five projects currently in progress or recently completed, including: a dissertation project published as a constantly evolving blog; a multimedia dissertation project integrating text, video, and sound; and different projects integrating social media like Twitter, network visualisations, or geolocation. The second part of the workshop will encourage participants to consider and actively talk through the logistical, administrative, and infrastructural issues that such dissertations prompt for university administrations, students pursuing digital projects, and for those in mentorship and supervisory positions.
  3. DH after the Dissertation: Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowships (Laura Estill): While many of us want digital skills, it seems that the best time to have learned them was always yesterday … or tomorrow. This workshop considers the benefits and challenges of learning digital humanities skills during a postdoctoral fellowship. We will discuss the different kinds of digital humanities postdocs (project-driven; teaching-oriented; research-focused), what you can expect, where to find them, and how to apply. We will talk about how to get the technological skills and support you need to complete your projects, how to manage your time, and how to position yourself on the job market. This session will be of value for doctoral students, faculty considering hiring a DH postdoc, and veteran postdocs and advisors.
  4. On-Campus Spaces and Services for Digital Dissertation Work (Brian Owen): Libraries have long been spaces for traditional, print-based academic work, including the PhD thesis. But how are libraries evolving to support or intersect with digital humanities research? How does the development of the research commons reflect the need for alternative approaches to learning and scholarship in the digital age? This workshop will grapple with these topics, as well as explore the research commons at Simon Fraser University (SFU) Library in Burnaby, British Columbia, as an exemplar. The SFU Library’s Research Commons opened in 2014 and supports the research endeavours of the university community, with particular focus on graduate students during all stages of the research lifecycle–ideas, partners, proposal writing, research process, and publication–and provides easy access to both physical and virtual research resources.
  5. Versioning Your Dissertation with Git (Jentery Sayers): Git and GitHub allow people to track changes made to a given project and, in so doing, produce a detailed revision history. In this workshop, participants will learn the basics of Git and GitHub, with an emphasis on how they can be used to archive, track, version, and even share changes to a dissertation. They will also discuss GitHub as a component in the publication process.
  6. Project Management for Graduate Students and Early Career Scholars (Lynne Siemens): Project management skills are increasingly in demand for graduate students, early career scholars and alternative academics. This offering will cover the basics of project management from project definition to project review upon completion, including management of resources, time, tasks, and budget, risk assessment and mitigation, software tools and related internet resources and other topics. Material will be covered through lectures, discussions, and case studies.

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