Digital Humanities at Syracuse University

Exploring the Digital Humanities

When I came to the iSchool, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that when I got here I’d probably have to step outside of my comfort zone. My original plan was to become a college professor of English. I had already completed my M.A. in English toward that end. I taught college foundations writing courses and genuinely found fulfillment in it. It wasn’t until my M.A. program ended that I realized what I truly enjoyed. The moments of learning that my students had when they attended library sessions, and in the resulting essays. Those experiences drove me outside of my comfort zone into librarianship as a place of learning.

Once enrolled in the iSchool, I took classes that expanded my horizons. I learned about the concepts of “new librarianship” and about the diversity that the field offers. Librarianship is really broad, from reference services, to technical services, to systems work, to medical and legal librarianship, to liaison and instructional librarianship and collection development and so much more.

I expanded my into learning analytics and library assessment practices by working with Megan Oakleaf as her faculty assistant as a part of the Library Leadership Award because we both have a passion for the field of assessment.

However, despite all of the new experiences I was having, I soon began to feel that I was neglecting my foundation in the humanities. I felt that however good my classes were, I still missed parts of the English field, namely the measured dedication to pedagogical practices (particularly for digital and online education) that I had so loved. Librarianship cares about these things, but I wanted to go more in depth than a class could take me. I soon discovered the field of digital humanities (DH). DH is a field that is taking off in the library world and across the academy in general.

What are the Digital Humanities?

If you are wondering what the digital humanities are, try to think about a humanities discipline and how it intersects with technology.

I, for example, am currently studying how Twitter plays a role in the classroom. I am testing how and where it impacts and augments instructional quality (if at all). Other scholars might study the linguistics of tweets, or perhaps interactive mapping of ancient trade routes. Some study critical-making. It is a broad field that matters to me and the library as well. It reflects the changing ways in which students are growing, learning and doing scholarship and research.

As of one year ago, there was no student organization for graduate students to engage in this research together. In the fall of last year, I, with the key support of librarian Patrick Williams, decided to test the waters, to see if a cross-disciplinary graduate student DH group would be a feasible venture.  It turns out that it was.

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Introducing the Digital Humanities Student Scholars

The Digital Humanities Student Scholars (DHSS) is a burgeoning new group (soon to be seeking legitimization with the Graduate Student Organization [GSO]). Graduate students in all disciplines meet with other graduate students interested and doing scholarship in the digital humanities. It presents a unique opportunity to partake in an emerging field. As well as meet other graduate students doing this type of work across the university.

DH work is often inherently collaborative, and it can be difficult to find people working on the same types of scholarship as you because of the scattered disciplines. The DHSS presents the unique opportunity to be a part of a group that brings these, often isolated, scholars together.

Down the line we hope to help host THATCamp 2017 in April in conjunction with the Digital Humanities Faculty Group at Syracuse University. THATCamp is an event that will gather many of the area’s finest minds in the digital humanities field to give presentations, workshops, and other sessions about their work. Syracuse’s hosts it on campus too!

Learn More

If you’re interested in joining the DHSS ListServ: Email listserv@listserv.syr.edu and type “Subscribe DHSS” into the body of the email.

If you’re like to ask a question or learn more about the DHSS group, email me at sjsettim@syr.edu.

Sam Settimio

Sam Settimio

Sam is a student in the MS in Library and Information Science program at the iSchool and an Expect More scholar.

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