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Four Workshops on Digital Scholarship at MLA 2013

Four Workshops on Digital Scholarship at MLA 2013

If you are reading this on HASTAC, and you're attending the MLA 2013 conference, you should run now to the registration page and sign up for one of the following workshops.

Unfortunately, you must pick one of the first 3 workshops -- they are all scheduled at the same time. 

THATCamp MLA will be held the day before the MLA convention begins, which means you can attend it in addition to one of the others.

Let us know in the comments if you plan to attend one of these workshops! 

What’s Digital Pedagogy? The workshop website has a useful explanation and overview:

The drive to turn education digital has riveted our attention over the last ten years. But what exactly is digital pedagogy? How does one get started in it, and how is it different from regular pedagogy?

Broadly defined, digital pedagogy is the use of electronic elements to enhance or to change to experience of education. This can be anything from the simple use of powerpoint in the classroom, to the Khan Academy’s exhortation to “flip the classroom,”  and the growth of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as Udacity and Coursera offering free online education to the general public. Examples of digital pedagogy also include blogging assignments, the use of social media in the classroom“forking” syllabi with GitHub, andgetting students to use digital tools to test ideas. In sum, digital pedagogy is an attempt to use technology to change teaching and learning in a variety of ways.

Academic interest in digital pedagogy has grown by leaps and bounds. Late 2011 saw the launch of digital-pedagogy centered journals such as Hybrid Pedagogy and the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. A specialized THATCamp, or an unconference on the humanities and technology, was held on Pedagogy in 2011, and a corresponding THATCamp Hybrid Pedagogy will be held in 2012. And MLA interest on the subject has also been growing: at the 2012 Convention in Seattle Katherine D. Harris and Brian Croxall and Kathi Beerensorganized two extremely popular electronic roundtables on digital pedagogy.

Importantly, some argue that simply using electronic elements in your teaching does not mean that you are practicing digital pedagogy. Paul Fyfe (@pfyfe) thinks, for example, that simply incorporating a technological tool without reflecting upon pedagogical change isn’t digital pedagogy. He argues: “if the tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat problems as nails.” In other words, this means that a simple incorporation of a tool (say Powerpoint) in a lecture, without any reflection on how the lecture form itself should evolve, is pretty much the same as a lecture without Powerpoint (which leads to the well-known Death by Powerpoint meme). Jesse Stommel (@jessifer) argues that digital pedagogists should consider the importance of “hybrid pedagogy,” or “think holistically about the various hybridities of the modern pedagogue, to think about how we live our real/digital lives in both academic and extra-academic spaces.”

To sum up: digital pedagogy is not merely a way to teach, but also makes up a rapidly expanding field hosting multiple debates and schools of thought. Any and all of these debates are up for discussion at our unconference. See our Suggested Topics page for ideas on what you could propose!


(2) Evaluating Digital Work for Tenure and Promotion: A Workshop for Evaluators and Candidates

Thursday, 3 January 2013, 8:30am-12:30pm

Program arranged by the MLA Office of Programs

Presiding: Alison Byerly, Middlebury Coll.; Kathleen Fitzpatrick, MLA; Katherine A. Rowe, Bryn Mawr Coll.

Facilitated discussion about evaluating work in digital media (e.g., scholarly editions, databases, digital mapping projects, born-digital creative or scholarly work). Designed for both creators of digital materials and administrators or colleagues who evaluate those materials, the workshop will propose strategies for documenting, presenting, and evaluating such work. Preregistration required.

This workshop has been held before, and it marks the MLA (and university policies) shift towards recognizing new media & digital academic work. From the recent report called, "Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media."

Institutions and departments should develop written guidelines so that faculty members who create, study, and teach with digital objects; engage in collaborative work; or use technology for pedagogy can be adequately and fairly evaluated and rewarded. The written guidelines should provide clear directions for appointment, reappointment, merit increases, tenure, and promotion and should take into consideration the growing number of resources for evaluating digital scholarship and the creation of born-digital objects.

Register for the conference and workshop here.


This workshop is highly recommended for those in tenure track positions, those in other positions (visiting, adjunct, etc.), as well as faculty on TAP boards or in Higher Ed administration.

Jennifer Rhee, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at VCU, wrote a fantastic blog on HASTAC, about the consideraton of digital scholarship for tenure and promotion. In "More Ammo: Digital Scholarship and Activity in Tenure and Promotion" she writes about her department's progressive position on what 'counts' as academic work.

In short, digital work “counts” (taking up a term from Cathy Davidson’s post, “Should blogs count for Tenure and Promotion?”). In its governance document, [the] English department lists its guidelines for scholarly activity...Among these guidelines is the recognition of “the burgeoning area of digital scholarship and creative work."  The document goes on to list examples of existing digital scholarship in English studies, including “book-length projects published exclusively electronically; journals distributed electronically without a print version; and published multi-media work with demonstrated impact on the field, such as hypertexts, content-based CD-Roms, digital scholarly editions, and databases most prominently."

This is such an important shift - not only for professors, but for students (whose professors are allowed to count their progressive and interesting digital work, therefore not requiring them to forfeit such work in the name of traditional scholarship), and of course, for the results of these academic inquiries.

(3) MLA Workshop: Get Started in Digital Humanities with Help from DHCommons

Thursday, 3 January 2013, 8:30am-12:30pm

At the 2012 MLA, conference attendees packed many sessions on the digital humanities (DH), reflecting the growing interest in this domain. Yet many newcomers to digital humanities lack opportunities to connect with the DH community, get help from experienced practitioners with conceptualizing and launching a project, or begin building the skills they need to realize their projects. This four-hour preconvention workshop welcomes language and literature scholars who wish to learn about, start, or join digital scholarly projects for research and/or teaching. Representatives of major digital humanities projects and initiatives will share their expertise on project design, outline available resources and opportunities,and lead small-group training sessions on DH technologies and skills. Experts will come from projects such as 18th ConnectHypercitiesNeatlineNINESScalarTAPoR, and the Women Writers Project, as well as theAssociation for Computers and the Humanities and the NEH's Office of Digital Humanities. You can learn more about our experts at Workshop participants will leave with a plan for getting started in the digital humanities and a resource for connecting to scholars and projects in their disciplines.

To that end, this four-hour preconvention workshop welcomes scholars who wish to pursue or join digital scholarly projects but do not have institutional infrastructure to support them. The workshop will build on the model developed for and tested at the 2012 MLA Convention in Seattle. DHCommons, which was launched at that event, connects innovative scholars with mentors and opportunities for collaboration, and increases the community of participants for established projects and centers.

Find out more info here, at DHCommons.

(4) MLA 2013 THATCamp


January 2, 2013 -- This is the day before the MLA Convention

THATCamp MLA is affiliated with this year’s Modern Language Association Convention and will be hosted at Northeastern University in Boston, MA on January 2, 2013. 


What is a THATCamp?

Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:

  • It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program.
  • It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, presentations, or product demos. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
  • It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants during the first session of the first day, rather than weeks or months beforehand by a program committee.
  • It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems.

All information, including how to apply can be found here. The workshop is limited to 100 participants, so sign up now!

It's exciting to see these conversations trickling up to these levels, and it's fantastic to see support for new ideas and initiatives at the MLA convention. Looking forward to meeting many of you there!



1 comment


I read thru the posts and the workshops seem so interesting! I work with Wikipedia and have been writing on digital pedagogy for a bit. Unfortunately, since I am still a student I cannot sponsor my travel to the conference from India and without a travel grant it would be unwise to pay the registration fees. Any pointers on that?