I am quite pleased to be serving as a 2014-2015 HASTAC scholar this year; I acted as a HASTAC scholar last year and enjoyed the experience immensely. I found it quite rewarding to be a part of a community that was so invested in cross-disciplinary dialogue and in facilitating the exposure and circulation of ideas. As a fourth year English PhD student, I'm just getting to the point where I feel like I have original and unique contributions to make and I'm also getting to the point where I know enough about the field to be disenchanted with the world of academic publishing (yet so reliant on it if I am to find employment). As a HASTAC scholar, I was given the chance to test the waters by posting introductory ideas in a friendly forum in which other scholas are inclined to interact with me and re-tweet my ideas along to other interested parties.
While I have a couple of small publications under my belt, never before have I had my ideas circulated so quickly and so widely, thanks in such large part to the active HASTAC community. For those of you who are new scholars, I urge you to take advantage of this community. Use this chance to test out your ideas and get exposure. Also use this chance to participate in the community yourself and gain exposure to the types of conversations that are currently happening in your field. There's nothing like real-time feedback. But, hey, I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new.
Recently, the English graduate students at my institution (Syracuse University) have decided to involve ourselves in a Public Humanities endeavor. With the help of Syracuse University English Department’s Public Humanities Fund, administered by Harvey Teres, Dean’s Professor for the Public Humanities in English, we have launched an interdisciplinary graduate student blog where we choose (and pay!) a monthly blogger to post weekly about topics of interest to the humanities broadly defined. Between my involvement with that blog and the HASTAC community, I have come to appreciate and revel in the potential of online interactive engagement. Often, this appreciation is selfish. I appreciate the ready-made audience I am given and the immediacy of feedback. Ultimately, though, I hope my involvement in these communities is slightly less selfish; I want to help these communities flourish and I want to engage with the larger public in an involved and meaningful way.
With this in mind, I look forward to my appointment as a HASTAC scholar this academic year and I am interested in hearing from you all. How do you and your institution engage in Public Humanities? What is your investment in this space? How would you like to see it thrive?