I’m finally settling back into my C’ville routine. My last stop this winter break was the MLA convention in Seattle. Like many of my colleagues, I also felt that “the MLA’s heart (like a post-holiday Grinch) grew at least three sizes over the four days of the 2012 conference.” While last year echoed a prominent informer’s assessment that DH was “the next big thing” with anxiety, this year felt more like “Hey, I like that. How do I do it?” This was especially a good year for those in the business of rethinking the future of graduate methods training (ahem, ahem) and of graduate futures in general. Needless to say, I felt really great about being part of the first cohort of Praxis.
Saturday evening I had a chance to catch up with one of my early undergraduate mentors. He had questions. He wanted to know what I knew about the DH world. I’m sure half of his curiosity came out of an earnest desire to hear the tale of my travels. The other half was a shrewd (and responsible) move to build a vocabulary for conversations his department will inevitably have this year with the dean, other departments, the library, etc: Can an isolated DHer work well with limited resources? Do you need a center? How do you get graduate students involved? Our conversation went on for a good three hours and it was very rewarding to offer a candid assessment of the field from where I’m standing.
I also realized that where I’m standing is what in battle we would call higher ground. I don’t mean the privilege of hobnobbing with the enormous DH talent we have on grounds. Nothing, of the sort. Although projects are a whole different affair, you could develop decent DH skills and ideas were you connected from Pie Town. I mean the privilege of seeing graduate methods transformation first-hand. I agree with Brooke that there is a continuum that links us to analog models in the department (at least at UVa). But the continuum does eventually lead to new ground.
What I’ve seen, of course, has been well recorded here by all the Praxis bloggers. If this is your first time visiting our site and you are interested in the fresh air blowing our way, I encourage you to read more…