Blog Post

The First DH Entry Just saying Hello!


Dear HASTAC Scholar Community,

I’m so excited to be a HASTAC Scholar through the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I understand the challenges posed by the HASTAC collaboration, in that the digital era has greatly expanded our potential learning landscape and yet, as scholars, we must explore these new boundaries of academe in order to better service our scholarship, our teaching, and the coming generation.

As a historian of the Atlantic World, my project interests often take me to far off countries for research in dusty archives. Many advanced scholars have explored these archives by writing on scraps of paper and transcribing those notes into full dissertations. The work is often called lonely and tedious, but most historians enjoy the thrill of discovery. Today, with the advent of social media sites, crowdsourcing, online databases and increasingly available online archival material, the once lonely historian can find a very large audience and community merely by collaborating through technology. Additionally, through mediums like Wordpress or Twitter, the specialized micro-history that dominates so much of academic writing can find greater readership and a more dynamic interaction with interdisciplinary communities. Finally, an online collaborative community many times helps extend or even begin one’s professional development, and it can greatly enhance a scholar’s research interests. The benefits for a scholar using HASTAC are numerous, and I am excited to assume the mantle.

Through Vanderbilt’s History Department I often attend the workshops and conferences offered by the Robert Penn Warren Center. This year I have committed to attend weekly groups such as the 18th/19th c Colloquium, the Caribbean Studies reading group, the Circum-Atlantic Seminar and the Mexican Studies Seminar. It could prove beneficial to both the RPW Center as well as the Seminar groups to have a digital documentarian among the participants. Additionally, I am excited to act as a dynamic online presence through blog entries on the seminars as well as providing a meeting space by which the seminar conversation can continue through the digital communities. I am unsure what form these entries will take, nor the conversations they will elicit, so I am perhaps most nervous/excited about this role.

This first blog is meant as a hello to the HASTAC world, and to invite you all to offer suggestions for a first time HASTACker. I plan on blogging on the following themes:

  • Vanderbilt University life in the digital humanities (a big topic, I know)
  • Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Seminar Groups
  • PhD Candidacy – Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmeticking the dissertation in history
  • DH for the Historian – What can we expect from the established historian, and what should we teach to those still learning?
  • Teaching with DH – Does Twitter help?
  • DataDataData – DEVONthink is my hero and other data management tools.

These headings provide just a snippet of the conversations I have in mind, and I welcome your feedback. 






1 comment

Hi, Miriam! I'm also new to HASTAC. I'm interested in your potential blog topics because I've heard great things about DEVONthink, but I know next to nothing about it. I'm interested in learning how other historians have implemented it into their process. Will look forward to your post. Nice to meet you!