Author Archives: Melissa Schultheis

Schultheis Post 10: A Media Archaeological Uterus

“Media Archaeological Fundus” (MAF) is a terrific moniker, and I knew I had to write about the term and its relationship to the work done in the MAF, after reading Lori Emerson’s interview with Wolfgang Ernst. I glossed over the term when I first read it. I couldn’t quite place it. But seeing it a second time, it hit me: the uterus. While “fundus” (Latin for the bottom, lowest part) can be used to describe the part of many different organs which is farthest from its opening, the uterus seems like the most appropriate allusion given the Ernest’s description of the MAF and its credo.

I’d argue that the MAF’S physical space resembles a womb. It’s not entirely empty, but it is both roomy and teeming with possibilities. Resisting “the nostalgic or even melancholic impulse” to study “dead media,” the MAF trains students to “discover [media’s] retro-futuristic element[s].” To accomplish this, Ernst explains that two elements must be present in the MAF: “technological media elements” and the “eyes and minds” of media archaeologists. The MAF is not interested in merely making machines work again, although that is an important part of “reanimate[ing] their function.” Instead, the MAF aims to revivify mechanic elements in unexpected ways. In joining the human and machine and in being a space of origination and development, the space experimentally conceives new hermeneutics for studying media.

Of course, one could easily make an argument for “fundus” referring to eyes—especially with the whole cones, rods, perception thing going on. So if you’re not sold on the feminization of the space, fine. But the MAF is certainly understood as an academic institution that studies media, which is contingent upon human deciphering. Using the word “organ” once and “medientheater” (media theatre) three times, its credo reminds me of another theatre: the anatomy theatres of seventeenth-century Europe.

Vesalius Fabrica fronticepiece.jpg

Andreas  Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, 1543. Title Page.

As spaces of experimentation and invention, both theatres disrupt their respective disciplines’ long-standing hermeneutics. Resisting the urge to define what biological and mechanic elements are for, the performances and the spectacles observed in these spaces broaden our understanding of what the human body and technology are capable of doing.


Works Cited

Lori Emerson, “Archives, Materiality and the ‘Agency of the Machine’: An Interview with Wolfgang Ernst” (2013)


Schultheis Post 9: Language’s Materiality and Braidotti’s “Posthuman”

Beginning The Posthuman, Rosi Braidotti describes her genealogy of Humanism to post-humanism—a mammoth task for chapter one—with an analysis of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (1492). From here she describes the contemporary, nostalgic view of Humanism and its various shortcomings and, often violent, consequences that are caused by the following problem: Humanism does not extend humanity to all humans. Capital “H” humanism embraces the transcendental ego and bolsters “the binary logic of identity and otherness . . . of ‘difference’ as pejoration” (15). Anti-humanism’s disruption of Humanism then becomes the focus of much of the rest of the chapter before Braidotti’s anticipation of the turn to post-humanism that comes in her subsequent chapters. She explains that anti-humanism “rejects the dialectical scheme of thought, where difference or otherness played a constitutive role, marking off the sexualized other (woman), the racialized other (the native) and the naturalized other (animals, the environment or earth)” (27). Beautifully said, and I would imagine a motive underpinning many people’s turn to feminist and post-colonial work.

However, what I find confusing (and quite troubling) is Braidotti’s argument that her post-human “is not linguistically framed” but is “rather materialist and vitalist, embodied and embedded, firmly located somewhere” (51 my emphasis). Perhaps this is a minor detail for her overall argument—which I find incredibly compelling and optimistic—but I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that language is not material. Am I to believe that language has no center and no materiality because post-structuralists have deemed it so? This seems absurd. Language was profoundly material in Braidotti’s first vignette, which describes a YouTube video of a young man with the caption “Humanity is overrated” before he murdered eight classmates. The tremendously flawed and atrocious narratives and ideals to which this person adhered (no doubt meant to juxtapose Braidotti’s description of anti-humanism) were deeply embodied.

Much of my research revolves around tracing oral knowledge of the 16th and 17th centuries, which, of course, ironically requires a physical text or item. It’s not that I believe oral knowledge can necessarily be reconstructed, but I believe it is embodied somewhere. Whether written or uttered, language is physical and reverberates through time. I am sure that dialectics are important for Braidotti’s post-human, and although I have doubts that a subject can exist without being linguistically framed, I’m willing to be persuaded. However, what I know I cannot envision is a language that’s immaterial.

[Full disclosure: I haven’t made it to chapter four yet, and I’ve been told that it may clear some of this up for me.]

Work Cited

Braidotti, Rosi. The Posthuman. Malden, MA, USA: Polity, 2013. Print.

Schultheis Post 8: What Do You Mean “We”?

In his chapter “Media Theory and New Materialism,” Jussi Parikka surveys media-materialist approaches to media theory, focusing primarily on the work of Friedrich A. Kittler. A material discourse theorist, Kittler does not identify as a media archaeologist; however, as Parikka’s chapter explains, his work has been instrumental in the more recent development of new materialism, a wide-ranging study influenced by Bernard Siegert, Wolfgang Ernst, and Claus Pias. While it would be unfair to lump all new material theorist into one ontology, many share a similar research focus: textual analysis should happen alongside an analysis of a machine’s inner workings.

I can get behind part of Parikka’s description of “descent,” a term he borrows from Foucault’s genealogical method. “Power,” he explains, “[that] is now circulated through software to hardware is inseparable from the proprietary industries that produce the platforms on which our media for seeing and hearing are governed” (81). Starting the semester off with an article on tech-power disparity, we have been discussing similar issues in class ever since. However, I take issue with the foundation that Parikka (or maybe just Kittler) laid in describing the “new state for media analysis” (80). Marking this shift from printed texts to computer memory, he claims that “we no longer have direct access to writing” (80). While I don’t contest that this is certainly the case with mathematical machines (computers) today, I perceive a distinct privilege in being able to make this claim about the past. This “we” discussed here seems to have always had direct access to writing, a strange claim for a poststructuralist to make. And just as our readings of the last few weeks have argued that printed facts are complicated, socially constructed data, writing has always been pumped through various socially constructed machines—whether organic (ie. transcribers, translators, the human mind etc.) or mechanical. I would argue, then, that historically very few have had direct access to writing, but it wouldn’t take many of us long to realize what most of the “we” share: race and gender.

Jussi Parikka, “Media Theory and New Materialism” (2012)

Schultheis Post 7: “Laboratory Life” Reboot: Pickering’s “The Mangle of Practice”

Sixteen years after the publication of Laboratory Life, Bruno Latour’s and Steve Woolgar’s investigation of the scientific lab and its culture resonates in Andrew Pickering’s The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, & Science. A quick glance at Pickering’s references and index tells us that these men’s work is part of a larger conversation about the nature of scientific truth, which, for Pickering, involves an examination of “the mangle” or the “fragmented, disunified, scrappy” dimensions of “the conceptual, the social, [and] the material” (1; 3). In other words, “[W]e should see science (and, of course, technology) as a continuation and extension of this business of coping with material agency” (6-7). This emphasis on the physical anticipates the digital humanities for which Matthew Kirschenbaum advocates while also foregrounding The Mangle of Practice’s predilection for posthuman analysis.

What I can’t seem to shake from my mind (post-Pickering) is how unfamiliar disciplines are with one another. This is evident when Pickering discusses temporality and his desire to “understand the work of cultural extension in science as it happens in time” because of the “serious historiographic problems” that arise from retrospective accounts when reconstructing history (3). When I first read this, I couldn’t help but think, “It’s 1995, Pickering. Just say New Historicism” before realizing this predominately literary theory probably didn’t make its way into sociology. For me this highlights the need for interdisciplinary approaches to all fields and reinforces the work we’ve already read by Kirschenbaum, Moretti, and Svensson among others. As we study the “mangle of practice” in literary studies we need to be prepared to reach outside the humanities to see how other disciplines are constructing their realities.

With Pickering’s The Mangle of Practice in mind, I’d like to turn to the University of Viriginia’s Scholars’ Lab’s Makerspace. A space for “tinkering and experimentation,” the makerspace is open to everyone and provides a space for exploring the materiality both in traditional archives and the digital. One project, which studies the categorization of music into genres, explores Spotify’s metadata. By running their code the researchers create several similar lists of genres for the artist or group used; however, each genre list is unique due to the experiments slightly random nature and, therefore, requires human interpretation. As a machine reads a code, written by humans, in order to create a list that must then be read by humans, this experiment in particular mimics Pickering’s “mangle,” as the social, technological, and material intersect.

Schultheis Post 6: The New Tech Paradox

Beginning his text, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT, with a description of several futuristic demos performed at MIT in the 1980s, Steward Brand nearly sets up a Wonka-esque scene, yet those descriptions are complicated as he highlights the neoliberal underpinnings of the Media Lab. As he draws attention to the numerous sponsors and potential sponsors that occupy this space, Brand points out the institution’s peculiarity: “MIT is more merrily in bed with industry and government than any other academic institution in the world” (6). My skepticism seems to have anticipated Russell Neuman’s claim shortly after that people are naturally inclined “to see either a revolution or a conspiracy in every new technology” (15). Evident in the history of DAT (Digital Audio Tape) that Brand tells, this new technology paradox emerges: DAT was clearly revolutionary in providing “home manipulation of commercial information,” but the fact that businesses eschewed the release of this technology because they were invested in the CD business suggests the capitalist’s motivations that fund new technologies. But while I wish I could be content to look at the revolutionary resistances to the neoliberal, I can’t help but wonder who gets to participate in the resistance? Those with a surplus of recourses to purchase these devises and a surplus of time to learn how to use them, reinforcing tech-power disparity.

Like the Media Lab, Center for Scholarly Communication & Digital Curation receives private funding, but unsurprisingly it seems to align itself more closely with libraries and archives than media labs. Situated in this way, CSCDC offers assistance for image and text scanning and faculty and student projects, such as the interdisciplinary project the Anatomy of Gender. As the CSCDC encourages NU to participate in Open Access Week, this project embraces the call for open access, in part, because it digitally publishes relevant student essays. CSCDC more generally works to make faculty more comfortable with academic transparency by providing information on copyright and offering support for data management.

Brand, Stewart. “Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M.I.T.” New York: Penguin Books, 1987.

Schultheis Post 5

As I do not know the details of Mulkay’s studies and, therefore, what “attention to the technical” specifically means in context, the following observation may be shortsighted, but I was struck by one passage in particular: “because outsiders are seldom interested in technical culture and are usually technically incompetent, the accounts given them by participants must be treated with considerable caution” (24, 26). While this seems more than reasonable, it resonates a bit too closely to Ramsey’s call for all DH-ers to code, and while it is certainly important to understand some of the technical culture, I do not see why a sociologist’s study of a “scientific”[1] lab would be deficient because they are not technically proficient in that lab. Sociologist can still understand aspects of the human’s relationship to the lab (which includes equipment and other humans) regardless, which makes the push to keep the lab and human separate laughably futile. The fear that studying the lab will turn this research “into a sociology of scientists rather than a fully fledged sociology of science,” seems utterly absurd—not because their fear is unfounded, for in fact that is exactly what will happen, but because they imagine a study of the lab where humans and science are separate.

This leads me to ask, how unfamiliar are scientists with their own history? A lot of my own research focuses on medical and scientific history, but shouldn’t scientists also know, at least in part, their evolution from herbal recipes to the Royal Society onward? It seems to me that even a cursory study of scientific history would yield a better understanding of a lab as a social space with major social implications. Granted, Laboratory Life came out in the 70’s and as of late there has been a focus on medical humanities and medical history courses, so this claim is not entirely accurate, although these courses are aimed towards future MD’s who are more likely than lab scientists to interact with human subjects.

I struggled with the Laboratory Life this week. As a humanist, it seems obvious that interacting with the past (through text or object) allows us to embody the past in the present, which in turn contributes to the greater sum of human knowledge and mitigates some anxiety towards futurity. I see the potential for this work in traditional archives but also in humanities labs like CU’s Media Archeology Lab (MAL). Describing its motto as “the past must be lived so that the present can be seen,” the MAL offers a chance for researchers and artists to revivify what we now consider obsolete tools. Most humanities research maintains that understanding the lived and embodied experience of the past is significant to their work. Holding this premise, the MAL distinguishes itself from more traditional humanist research, however, in its emphasis on, what I’ll call, knowledge by physical manipulation—something akin to “play.” I make that distinction because I see all research as play that invokes knowledge through a particular medium: as literary scholars, words; as biologists, cells. In a way, this actually situates the MAL between the “two cultures”—if they exist.

[1] As if sociologists or humanists aren’t doing scientific work . . .

Schultheis Post 4: Ramsay and Earhart


Over the last four weeks, I’ve strongly advocated for a DH centered around activism, yet to blithely consider DH a field/hermeneutic/epistemology/#chooseyourownadventure that is capable of challenging and changing existing oppressive ideologies without also considering, what Stephen Ramsay describes as, “the way digital humanities does or does not engage with cultural criticism”—is criminally myopic (my emphasis). Ramsay’s “Why I’m In It” addresses a number of concerns that we have been circling around this semester: particularly, the fear of a DH subsumed into the current academic institution. Foregrounding his post with the work of Alan Liu, Ramsay takes on the question of whether DH-ers are “channel[ing], advanc[ing], or resist[ing]” institutions and corporations in order to do their research or make their products. He is correct that this is a “book-length question,” but I have the short answer: it’s all three. I don’t mean to be flippant; it’s an important question that’s well worth the time to research (and I’m sure Ramsay’s future book will make clear that all three are at work), but if we begin taking part in conversations that describe DH as if it is in some sort of binary, we’re doomed. Be cognizant of Ramsay’s question. Be ready to think long and hard over it, but let’s move beyond unconsciously (or consciously) appropriating deconstructionist hierarchies and Foucauldian power dynamics. Instead, I’d like to see critics embrace what Rebecca Bushnell calls in another context, “functional ambivalence”: the ability to see that a particular tendency “always allow[s] for the realization of an opposite one, without undermining or effacing itself in turn” (19). In the end analyzing this paradox is crucial for understanding DH’s relationship to culture and its role within academia, and I hope it’s a principal issue in Ramasy’s work on this question.

Earhart and HaCSS:

While I take issue with Amy Earhart’s repeated use of “neutral” when describing DH labs, I appreciate her description of the queer space it occupies—one that does not look entirely humanist or scientific. The University of Southern California’s The Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab is interested in residing in this in-between place. Particularly concerned with creating a “cross-disciplinary dialogue . . . specifically [with] the humanities and computer science,” the HaCCS turns to humanities hermeneutics when studying computer code, bridging the “two cultures.” Further, the lab focuses on collaboration; in fact, the word and its various forms are used 14 times in a 388-word post about the lab’s new platform. And while the distinct roles that professors and students play are unclear, a point Earhart address in her article, the lab’s site makes contributors’ names visible to the right of every page, emphasizing the collaborative nature of HaCCS at every level.

Works Cited

Bushnell, Rebecca W. A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1996. Print.

Earhart, Amy E., “The Digital Humanities as a Laboratory.”

Ramsey, Stephen. “Why I’m In It.”

Schultheis Post 3: Integrating DH in Pedagogy: A Plenary and Workshop with Jeffrey McClurken

Last week I started my post with an allusion to a phrase I often include on my syllabi: “Discomfort is a precursor to growth. Part of my job is to create discomfort.” This seems slightly sadistic, but after listening to Professor Jeffrey McClurken (University of Mary Washington) deliver his plenary and lead a workshop last Thursday and Friday, I’m more sure of my pedagogy than ever (don’t worry—students will no doubt humble me at any moment). While McClurken’s teaching maxim (“Uncomfortable, but not paralyzed”) reassured me that my teaching methods were motivated by a sound sentiment—help students take responsibility for their own learning—his workshop assured me that curbing student paralysis while working on a digital project is possible if we build good pedagogy and support systems.

First, because it’s a great starting point and because it’s incredibly relevant to the readings we’ve been doing for the last two weeks, I’d like to describe how McClurken’s response to “What is DH?” Dividing it into four categories, he carves out a multifarious discipline that includes

  1. The study of the digital world
  2. The creation and manipulation of digital artifacts
  3. The study and/or use of pedagogical innovations
  4. The study of technology’s impact on scholarship

However, the talk diverged from the debates we’ve been reading about this week and instead focused on undergraduates: Where are they in DH and what is their role? We may leave them out, according to McClurken, because we’ve bought into the “digital native” narrative, a myth he complicates by emphasizing that much of undergraduates’ interaction with the digital is consumptive. DH projects then offer an intervention where in students become producers of knowledge with the ability to reach a public audience and craft their own digital identity, making them more adaptable and marketable after leaving our classes and programs. Too often, I’d argue, humanists fear “practicality”—perhaps because this word is often used to attack what we do. But I’d also contend that we (especially those at public universities) have a moral responsibility to keep our disciplines relevant by reaching outside our departments to public audiences.[1] This transparency may, at times, put us at risk of criticism, but in doing so we let the world into the workings of “the ivory tower” and emphasize why we do what we do: “to contribute to the greater sum of human knowledge” (McClurken).

In creating a “digitally inflected” (as opposed to a “digitally centered”) project with CU Special Collections, I’m hoping to engender students’ respect for the past and the archives that protect it, while giving them “a room of their own” to showcase their skills and knowledge. Fifteen students from ENGL 3000 (Shakespeare for Non-Majors) will work in groups of three to curate collections in an exhibit on our sixteenth- and seventeenth-century archive. So, in framing this post around “doing” the digital humanities, I’d like to describe how I plan to do DH with undergraduates using McClurken’s workshop as a guide.

Accessing My Students

Using online surveys, I will first access the skill level of my students before meeting to discuss the project (workshop example: Link to student skills pre-assessment survey that I use). This will give me the option of dividing groups based on digital fluency and identifying the more fluent students as potential mentors/tutors. I cannot always be the first line of inquiry for students, nor do I want to be. I hope to provide them with a support system that allows them the natural discomfort of learning something new and the motivation and resources to find answers to their questions and concerns.

Picking My Tools and Letting Students Pick Theirs

McClurken’s next step puts students in charge of what their project will look like and how it will be used. In the case of my project, students are limited to only using Omeka—a free, digital publishing tool created to catalog and share digital collections of images, documents, and videos. However, after exploring Omeka’s showcase page (among other sites), students will access plugins and various other add-ons to decide which tools fit their needs best. From there, CU’s ASSETT (Arts & Sciences Support of Education Through Technology) will provide the server space and technical support for any customization my students will need. Omeka made sense to me for any project that involved digitizing archival work. While my project will not require students to fully digitize (make searchable) items at this time, I hope future iterations (perhaps with majors) will be more heavily involved in archival work and transcription. Additionally, CU Special Collections already works with on an Omeka platform, making publishing my students’ work much more manageable.

Evaluating Contracts

Perhaps the most valuable moment of McClurken’s workshop for me came when discussing student contracts. At this step, groups must determine a) their mission statement: what they will curate and how do they intend for the public to use it b) their tools: what they will need and why c) how they will divide the labor and d) the timeline they will use to complete their project. As McClurken noted, the final component of these contracts offers instructors the best opportunity to intervene, to mentor, and to remedy potential pitfalls.

Letting Students Run with It

I spent several weeks this summer finding models, mentors, and materials for this experiment—a crucial step in beginning any DH project. I’m indebted to our Special Collections librarians, ASSETT, and English and History Departments for providing support and examples, but the time is coming when I will need to hand the project over to undergraduates. A formidable moment? Of course. But it is also exhilarating. It’s at this moment that I stop being a depositor of information and instead allow students their full potential as academics and humanists. There can be no doubt that some failures await me and my students, but certainly we will learn how to do the humanities better for the future.


I know very little about the Student Bill of Rights for Digital Work. In fact, until recently, I didn’t know it existed, so I will need to take a closer look at it in the next few weeks to determine how I can access and grade digital work.

You can see McClurken’s plenary and workshop outlines here: and

Work Cited

McClurken, Jeffrey. “Claiming DH for Undergraduates: Learning, Knowledge Production, and Digital Identity.” Exploring Digital Humanities Speaker Series, University of Colorado-Boulder. 17 Sept. 2015.

[1] I can’t emphasize enough how I believe DH can and should be a form of academic activism that brings more people to the table and makes information accessible to the public. I’d also argue this clearly springs from feminist methodologies—made more apparent by McClurken’s description of “A Domain of One’s Own,” a program at UMW that provides server space and a domain name to every undergraduate and that unquestionably alludes to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

Schultheis Post 2: Does the Physical Belong in the Humanities?

If discomfort is a precursor to intellectual growth, my understanding of DH certainly grew from reading excerpts of Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms (2007). Borrowing Kenneth Thibodeau’s three descriptions of digital artifacts—physical (“signs inscribed on a medium”), logical (“data as it is recognized and interpreted by particular processes and applications software”), and conceptual (“the object we deal with in the real world”)—Kirschenbaum first highlights the most common objects studied today—the conceptual and more rarely the logical. This should not be surprising, as the reading and research required to study the conceptual will mimic the reading and research done by those studying materiality, thing theory, or object-oriented ontology (for fear of exposing my ignorance, I’ll refrain from indulging in a diatribe- about the (in)distinguishable traits of these three). As a result, DH projects entrenched in the conceptual are abundant: for example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center Digital Research in the Humanities does extensive digital work on numerous archives (Willa Cather, Railroads, Walt Whitman—to name a few), and nearly all of their projects adopt a strong emphasis on conceptual and, at times, logical objects.

Moving to a discussion of the physical, Kirschenbaum provides a detailed explanation of the nanoscale mechanisms guiding digital devices. While the physical digital artifact is fascinatingly obscure and I appreciate Kirschenbaum’s examples, which demystify and make material the seemingly invisible structures and language working to run the digital world, I am both uncomfortable and confused by what research of the physical looks like in the humanities; because at this moment, I cannot see where it belongs.

I’m more than willing to be persuaded. In fact, I welcome it, since part of my motivation for taking this course was to learn what DH was beyond libraries and archives, but I have yet to see a humanities project or piece of critical writing that to analyzes the physical’s relationship to humans. Nascent in this endeavor, I will admit that I have not been able to look at more than the first five pages of labs, centers, and hackerspaces complied here. But even the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s project “Documenting Digital History,” while well worth the time of anyone interested in DH, gives little or no attention to the physical even though it is intended to “educate scholars and the public about the state of the discipline.” Does this mean that the physical has yet to find a place in the humanities? Or that it’s here but humanists have yet to acknowledge it? Or that it’s here but humanists don’t believe they have a use for it?

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2008. Print.

Schultheis Post 1: Techpower Disparity

During the Q&A following Claire Bond Potter’s keynote address at the 2015 conference Women’s History in the Digital World[1], Potter suggested that resistance to DH may stem from an “intellectually conservative” population. Describing this conservative as an academic who prefers independent research, eschews collaboration, and champions for the continuation of the monograph as the ultimate standard of professional success, she went on underscored one of her address’s key arguments: every academic is responsible for knowing DH. My eye twitched. While the Q&A’s truncated structure allowed for only a cursory glance at such a complex conversation, there it loomed: the binary, requiring that I pledge allegiance to the dreaded conservatives or to radical DH-ers working to disrupt academic hierarchies.

My eye has since stopped twitching, but it wasn’t until reading Cynthia Selfe’s article “Computers in English Departments: The Rhetoric of Technopower” (1988) this week that I felt capable of tackling my initial aversion to the conversation I’ve described. Selfe’s article, despite being written nearly three decades ago, resonates today as she addresses the power dynamics associated with technology. While today these dynamics seem less likely to play out because of limited access to devices, the “darker side” of tech—financial and social costs—are still manifest in academia, and their presence disrupts the conservative-DH binary and makes clear that sometimes those who do not do or know DH are not fuddy-duddy scholars but rather are academics who lack techpower due to limited resources—particularly time (64).   Depending on the institution or moment in an academic’s career, a scholar may not have the disposable time to devote to DH, and as a result, the scholar may not be able to access or understand what Selfe calls the “multilayered literacy associated with computers” (63). In other words, to “speak” tech is to speak powerfully, but this discourse when known by a privileged few tips academia in their favor.

Admittedly, I’m in a DH course and working on DH projects because I recognize the power that comes with being able to connect the stories I tell to people, and since humanities programs should, in part, exist to explore the humanness of our fields and reach outside our academic community, we have to embrace DH or risk not only talking to ourselves but also contributing to the perceived obscurity of humanities programs. Of course, academics should make every effort to embrace DH; after all, it’s likely that we will eventually drop the “D” entirely, and rather than set these methods apart from our research, we’ll simply say, “this is how we do the humanities.” Yet, as Selfe warns, we must also recognize our own privilege and power over the conversations being had and ask ourselves how to mitigate techpower disparity within our communities.


Potter, Claire Bond. “Putting the Humanities in Action: Why We Are All Digital Humanists, and Why That Needs to Be a Feminist Project.” Women’s History in the Digital World. Bryn Mawr College: n.p., 2015.

Selfe, Cynthia. “Computers in English Departments: The Rhetoric of Technopower.” ADE Bulletin. 90 (Fall 1988): 63-7. Web. 29 Aug. 2015.

[1] I’d also note that the context of this address is particularly important. Addressing a room of feminists, Potter rightfully drew attention to DH’s disrupt potential and how feminists should harness that potential to invite more people into our conversations and research.