Blog Post

Welcome Topics (Vanderbilt's Curb Center, Coursera, Digital Humanities Scholarship)


Hello, HASTAC community!

I’ve been reading your posts and am amazed by the range and quality of discussion on these boards. First things first: I’m Don Rodrigues, a 1st-year PhD in English at Vanderbilt University and the HASTAC Scholar appointed to Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy. As a budding early modernist, I’m interested in early modern intellectual history, the philosophy of logic, critical race theory, gender and sexuality, gaming, and contemporary digital culture. As the HASTAC Scholar for the Curb Center, I’ll be working / reporting on three main fronts:

I. Projects at The Curb Center. The Curb Center at Vanderbilt is a cutting-edge institution situated on the geographic intersection of Vanderbilt’s campus and Nashville’s famed “Music Row.” The Center contains art galleries, a recording studio, and a video production studio. The interdisciplinary work here focuses on the importance of fostering creativity in education and in the greater, non-academic world. As identified on its website, the Center has three primary missions (see

1) The Curb Center seeks to identify and strengthen the public interest related to creative enterprise and expressive life.

We consider whether Americans have access to diverse creative content; whether new and emerging artists or art forms have opportunities to connect to audiences; whether citizen creative expression is supported; and whether existing laws and regulation impede or facilitate the ability of citizens to discover, use and share our nation’s storehouse of cultural heritage–from films to sound recordings and published writing. We believe creativity is a source of enhanced quality of life and the engine of an emerging post-information age economy.

2) The Curb Center takes a broad definition of the system of creative enterprise and expressive life.

We believe that existing approaches to cultural policy are too narrow–focusing primarily on traditional cultural sectors and agencies.  Improving the vibrancy of our expressive life requires considering the entire system of creative enterprise and expressive life in the U.S.–government policy and corporate practice; nonprofit and for profit industries; personal creative practice and professional artistry.  In doing so, we recognize the importance of decisions and activities that impact our cultural system in settings as diverse as music studios, hushed museums, art foundation board rooms or the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.  We believe that effective public leadership requires a capacity to be creative and entrepreneurial, and effective leaders in creative occupations need to be accountable to the public interest.

3) The Curb Center recognizes the importance of bringing different voices and perspectives together.

Creative insight and critical assessments are not solely the purview of the lone genius—instead they emerge through bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise.  The Center sponsors meetings and conferences, and publishes articles and books that foster dialogue and debate around the challenges and opportunities facing a healthy and vital system of creative enterprise and expression.

This and next semester we’ll be working on a range of exciting interdisciplinary projects and events, including THATCamp Vanderbilt, which will be hosted at Vanderbilt November 2-3 and the Three Million Stories Conference (, which will be held at Vanderbilt University March 7-9. I’ll be using this blog to keep HASTAC Scholars apprised of collaborative opportunities available through both Vanderbilt and the Curb Center; I’m also happy to answer any questions you have about the Center or the work we do. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Curb Center here:

II. Online Education: Vanderbilt partners with Coursera. This and next year I'll be working closely with Professor Jay Clayton (Professor of English and Director of the Curb Center) on Vanderbilt’s recent partnership with Coursera, “a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. [Coursera] envision[s] a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions” ( Beginning this summer, Professor Clayton will be teaching a massive open online course (MOOC) titled Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative; the focus will be on the concept of remediation across Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson’s adaptations of those books, and the successful MMORPG, Lord of the Rings Online. Here’s Clayton’s brief description of the course:

“Intended for both newcomers who are curious about video games and hard-core gamers who want to reflect on their passion, this course will explore what happens to stories, paintings, and films when they become the basis of massively multiplayer online games.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy—the novels, films, and video game—are our central example of how “remediation” transforms familiar stories as they move across media.  We will study The Lord of the Rings Online against the backdrop of other games such as Final Fantasy, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Skyrim; narrative theory, intermediality, and game theory; poems by Spenser, Coleridge, Keats, and Browning; fiction by Tolkien and others; and art since the Pre-Raphaelites that has influenced the neo-medievalism of much fantasy literature and gaming.”

See more at this link; and please, by all means, register for the course!

III. Analysis of Scholarship in Digital Humanities. I’ll be spending a chunk of my time this and next term reading and reviewing the latest digital humanities scholarship, and I’ll be posting my thoughts to HASTAC for your consideration and feedback. My research will focus, at first, on the peer-review journal DHQ. I will post the first of these reviews shortly, and I look forward to your thoughts!

That’s about it for now. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community and eager to learn more about the ways we can think and act together to solve 21st century problems using creativity and technology.

All my best,



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