After learning about the HASTAC program as a student at Wesleyan College (Macon, Georgia), I was inspired to apply by Wesleyan alumni who have been recent scholars, most notably Faithe Day and Brooke Bosley, both of whom went on to pursue graduate degrees in digital media from the University of Michigan and the Georgia Institute of Technology, respectively. Through the mentorship of Melanie Doherty, Associate Professor of English, I have developed a keen interest in the social and cultural impact that digital media has had on the modern world, and I would appreciate the opportunity to explore the issues and phenomena that have arisen as a result of an increasingly digital world. In recent months, I have been reading the works of scholars such as Jane McGonigal, Marshall McLuhan, and Jay David Bolter, using their publications as a framework to develop my own ideas for research projects that can be further exhibited on my HASTAC profile.
My intense fascination with digital culture not only stems from being a part of the “millennial” generation (having had the best and worst of computers and the rise of the internet shape my formative years), but also from my aptitude for both literary studies and more technically oriented fields. Finding a productive balance between the humanities and the natural sciences had proven difficult, but after researching available graduate programs, I am seriously considering entering into the field of digital media, which would allow me to draw from both areas of interest. In order to undertake unique and innovative projects, pertinent to the benefits and challenges the internet presents in the 21st Century, I am interested in exploring both the nostalgic and revolutionary aspects of “experimental television,” multimodal compositions, and the social and political implications set forth by the “digital divide” in the American South.
My blog posts will focus on topics ranging from avant-garde animation, to the aesthetics and distribution methods of YouTube and other digital media outlets, to transmedia narrative forms. Through these posts, as well as research projects, publications, and possibly campus-wide events, I plan not only to create a portfolio that will follow me through my career as a graduate student and showcase the work I have done researching these topics, but also help me connect with other members of HASTAC on the website (both undergraduate and graduate students) who share my interests in such topics, and who also have a passion for digital media. Doing so will help me to expand my professional network, as well as gain insight into various career paths, possibly in academia, but also in writing for companies such as Williams Street studios, which manages the late-night programming block Adult Swim, VICE Media broadcasting, or independent, digital literary magazines in the style of Paper Darts or Inkshares.
As one of the few gender-specific institutions listed on the HASTAC website, I am also excited to continue my school’s tradition of representing women’s colleges in the field of digital media through this program. The scholarship and work of female academics and entrepreneurs in the digital humanities, namely N. Katherine Hayles, a current professor at Duke University, and Merritt Kopas, a game designer and host of the podcast “Woodland Secrets,” often display fresh perspectives and insights into a field that has long been male-dominated. Though Wesleyan does not have a formal Digital Humanities department, the school’s hallmark liberal arts education offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that encourages students to make connections between technology, science, the arts, and the humanities.
Furthermore, by being an undergraduate HASTAC scholar, I hope to encourage other undergraduate students around the world to pursue the HASTAC program or other programs related to digital media. Since the internet is still relatively new, the opportunities and challenges that it presents are simultaneously novel, exciting, and thought-provoking. Being able to navigate this currently “uncharted territory” and having a thorough understanding of it that the general public does not, will offer students an edge in any domain since the internet has become such an integrated tool in the contemporary workplace.