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Notes from Meeting with Virginia Kuhn

HASTAC Scholars Meeting with Virginia Kuhn Oct 14, 2014


Notes from our talk:

  • WJT Mitchell influenced a lot of my work
  • Good to see that there are opportunities for you to meet people outside of your cohort here
  • I am moved by the idea that we had an oral culture and then moved into print literacy.  Undergrad degree in Art History and Criticism. 
  • I was the only girl in my high school programming class in the 80s, and not much has changed
  • Dawning of the kind of cultural studies where we were going to start looking at "low art" in addition to high art
  • worked in the private sector for awhile
  • I did go back in academia in the late nineties.  The digital was part of it for me.  
  • My PhD is in English.  (Milwawkee - Wisconsin).    It was a wonderful space.  I joined the division of rhetoric and cultural studies.  My studies were formally in rhetoric 
  • I did a hyper textual masters thesis - decided just to work on texts, no media.  How do we read - chunking ideas - how do we write?  Presents realign interesting issues on argument.  
  • I returned to the visual.  Got to know Gregory Ulmer and his work as well.  
  • I bought into the notion and I still do, that digital technologies are almost as amenable to images as to words.  It's expensive to print, but relatively easy to have images in a digital medium
  • My work on race was really rich with visual images
  • I was worried about getting labeled as the technology wonk.  So I did try and move away from the technology.  But I thought no.  Writing itself is a technology.  It finally became important to DO the dissertation
  • I won't forget - these three heavyweight scholars divided on whether I should do it.
  • Conversations are similar now ten years later
  • I was crafty about it.  I waited till late in the process.  I convinced my committee to support it. So I went to the graduate school rep and said, it was not my original intent to do a digital dissertation, but it is the natural outcome of my research.
  • The grad school was very surprised that the first digital dissertation was going to come from English rather than computer science.
  • I had really high people protecting me.  I defended Aug 4 2005.  I was in my office at USC Aug 5 2005.  I knew this would make or break my career.
  • It was the pressure of the press that finally got my doctorate.  
  • In California the writing programs tend to be disconnected from the English departments and lower. So my dean didn't want me to go there.  
  • I've been in Facebook since the beginning.  I hate when I hear digital natives. 
  • Manuel Castells  - most highly cited social scientist in the world.  He says, how do you stop people from checking Facebook in class, BE INTERESTING

Who is your audience

  • Cinema - I am often cast as a digital humanities person.  I'll frame myself that way.  But I think humanities is an issue. I am a rhetorician.  I don't change my core, but I do change my frame for an audience
  • Especially with a humanities audience I start with three premises:
    • writing is a technology
    • oral culture - print culture - digital era
    • epistemology and pedagogy can't be separated

Orality  - Orint - Digital

  • I do see our primary way of communicating was oral, then writing, and now digital, although they are all interconnected
  • "lettered orality" we are literate but we have this digital where we document our performance - the digital allows us to document our oral performance

Honors in Multimedia Literacy program

Kairos Issue 14 2: : Speaking with Students: Profiles in Digital Pedagagy

  • documentation is the way you have to go for digital projects, because it can be really hard to archive them
  • my research and pedagogy can't be separated, so this is a peer-reviewed piece
  • on the depth you can achieve in cyber space: we let the text bleed through the page
  • no one knows how to read these things well - so we have to build the assessment and the reading tools into the document
    • required by editors to include notes on the text-bleed on the page and its significance 
  • Assessment - laid out in thesis parameters page of the publications
  • Early on at IML we were accused of the "Disnyfication" of scholarship

Further Readings:

MoMLA - From Gallery to Webtext

Filmic texts and the rise of the fifth estate


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