HASTAC 2011: ToC



Whether you were part of HASTAC's fifth conference at the University of Michigan, or just followed us remotely through the lively Twitter feed and live-blogging action, you know that "Digital Scholarly Communication" was a far-reaching, interdisciplinary event that pushed the boundaries of what we mean by online communication and asked hard questions about what new digital formats allow and constrain, promote and exhibit.  In an attempt to capture that moment, we have compiled the keynote addresses, videos, texts, posters, websites, images, twitter feeds, and a great variety of blogs in this digital conference proceedings. In other words this eBook is both about and an example of Digital Scholarly Communication.  


It started with quite a bit of pre-conference chatter. Many began exchanging ideas about the practicalities of attending such a large and important event, but a number of bloggers also expressed their excitement about being surrounded by so many innovative thinkers and new ideas. For example, Edmond Chang, a HASTAC Scholar, wrote the following in his blog:


“I look forward to the questions raised by the conference, the conversations, and the opportunity to collaborate and network with my colleagues, peers, strangers, and superstars.”


This sentiment was raised again and again in blogs, tweets, and conversations throughout the conference. Faithe Day blogged after the conference that “the buzz words of HASTAC 2011 so far have been participation, interactivity, community, connection, multiple/multiplicity, and inter/trans disciplinary.” Extremely apt adjectives to describe a very exciting and life-changing event from an organization that aims at no less than to change the face of academe.


What follows is a description of the conference events—all of which you can find archived on the following pages.



Alt-Ac: Alternative Academic Careers


Alt-Ac (shorthand for “Alternative Academic”) has been gaining traction as a useful way to describe a variety of academic jobs that are not part of the tenure-track market. While these positions have always existed to some degree within the academy, they are increasing in both number and prominence. In particular, the growth sector of Alt-Ac seems to be at the intersection of digital technology and more traditional institutional work.


The Alt-Ac job market is incredibly interdisciplinary and encompasses a wide variety of positions within a diverse set of institutions and organizations. These include: libraries, museums, research institutes, academic presses, media/technology labs, and other humanities organizations.


All of this growth has led to increasing interest in understanding how Alt-Ac positions connect to more traditional academic jobs (professors, adjuncts, postdocs, librarians, deans and administrators, etc.) and how to navigate the career track that this new hybrid community opens up. While many of us working at the intersection of technology and culture will be considering this career path after grad school, most of our departments aren’t prepared to help us navigate this market, nor are they equipped to help us understand the variety of jobs under the Alt-Ac umbrella.


A major theme of the workshop was the need stop relying on their advisors as models for their future career and take responsibility for finding out where they fit in the academic world. As Elizabeth Cornell wrote in her blog: “#Alt-AcSUCCESS = taking the initiative for yourself; paying attention; volunteering your ideas; thinking creatively; working around others’ beliefs; looking around corners; looking at the crowd while everyone else gazes at the sunset.”


This HASTAC workshop provided a general introduction to the Alt-Ac concept and offered practical advice for applying for jobs in this career track. The focus centered especially on how to translate academic experience and craft effective applications. The first part of the session offered chances to listen to the experiences and wisdom of people already in or connected to the Alt-Ac sector. Two different cover letters were presented to the group: one which was well-written and very successful, and one which was still in revision and hadn’t yet attracted interest. By analysing these real examples, the group was able to think about the keys to a successful letter: (1) be specific about your interests and abilities, (2) address how you can solve the needs presented in the job ad, (3) translate your academic experiences into a non faculty role, and (4) crisp, clear prose instead of detailed research material. The final stage of the workshop allowed for audience questions & answers. Many others in the room offered tactics to those in graduate school and looking towards alt-ac jobs, including organizing workshops on your campus on anything from pedagogy, prelim exams, dissertation writing, job letters, syllabus development, teaching technologies. The conversations that started here were meant to continue throughout the conference, giving participants the chance to build a network of people for workshopping future job search materials.



Fiona Barnett, Duke University

Korey Jackson, University of Michigan



Brian Croxall, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow and Emerging Technologies Librarian in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University

Shana Kimball, MPublishing – Head of Publishing Services, Outreach & Strategic Development at the University of Michigan

Aaron McCollough, Subject Librarian for English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan

Elizabeth Werbe, Manager, Arts of Citizenship Program at the University of Michigan


Keynote Speeches:


The HASTAC V Conference included five keynote speeches spread throughout the two-day event. These were as follows:


Keynote 1 – Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University

Now You See It: The Future of Learning in a Digital Age


Keynote 2 – Dan Atkins, University of Michigan



Keynote 3 – James Leach, National Endowment for the Humanities

Digital Technologies in the Civilizing Project of the Global Humanities


Keynote 4 – Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia

The Technocultural Imagination


Keynote 5 – Josh Greenberg, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Data, Code, and Research at Scale


Many audience members took notes on the speeches and added their own comments to the conversation. Please look through the following pages for these documents and video archives of each talk.




Daniel Herwitz introducing Cathy N. Davidson in Rackham Amphitheater



Concurrent Sessions:


There were seemingly countless roundtable sessions and lightning talks throughout the two days of the HASTAC V conference. Sessions discussed a myriad of subjects including art environments, digital visualization, ebooks, pedagogy, and transnational collaboration, among many others. For a complete schedule of the talks, as well as presentation materials, related data, and several liveblogs, please see the following schedule.


Concurrent Sessions 1:

Session A1 (Roundtables)

  1. The Story of the Beautiful: Freer’s Peacock Room Recontextualized
    Nardina Mein, Lee Glazer, Joshua Neds–Fox
  2. Digital Media @ Pitt: Behind the Scenes of Multimodal, Creative–Critical Media Production
    Jamie Bianco, Trisha Red Campbell, Steph Ceraso, Erin Anderson


Session B1 (Roundtables)

  1. Communication and Collaboration in International Digital Humanities Projects
    Ethan Watrall, Dean Rehberger, Catherine Doley, Scott Pennington, Peter Alegi, Alex Galarza
  2. Iterations of Change: How Digital Technology Is Transforming Asian American Studies
    Konrad Ng, Lisa Nakamura, Lori Kido Lopez


Session C1 (Roundtables)

  1. Digital Scholarly Communication – Notes from the Wired! Lab for Digital Historical Visualization
    Mark Olson, Victoria Szabo, Elizabeth Baltes, Erica Sherman
  2. Kairos–OJS Plugin Project: Author, Editor, and Reader Tools for Scholarly Multimedia
    Kathie Gossett, Cheryl Ball, Douglas Eyman

Session D1 (Roundtables)


  1. From the Center: Facilitating Feminist Digital Praxis and Pedagogy Through Collaboration
    Margaret Rhee, Isela Gonzalez, Allyse Gray
  1. Mobile Collaborations: Student Research | Citizen Scholarship
    Bridget Draxler, Jon Winet, Peter Likarish

 Session E1 (Lightning Talks)

  1. Blogging and Blooks: Communal Authorship in a Contemporary Context
    Staci Stutsman
  1. The Future of the Book is Now – A Case–Study
    Spencer Striker
  1. Rethinking the Dissertation: Experiments and Practices in the Future Cinema Lab at York University
    Caitlin Fisher
  1. Building and Editing a Born–Digital Volume: Writing History in the Digital Age
    Kristen Nawrotzki, Jack Dougherty
  1. Massively Multireader: A Networked Teaching of House of Leaves across Five Classrooms
    Brian Croxall


Concurrent Sessions 2:

Session B2 (Roundtables)


  1. Authors, Articles, Editors, and Editions: Publishing Scholarship in the Digital Age
    Douglas Seefeldt, Amanda Gailey, Brian Sarnacki
  1. New Sites for Composition: Studying the Research of Writing in Digital Spaces
    Ben Gunsberg, Steven Engel, Chris Gerben
  1. Special Feature Panel: The University of Michigan and Global Circuits of Knowledge
    Margaret Hedstrom, Andres Pletch, Derek Peterson, Rebecca Scott, David Wallace, Edgardo Pérez–Morales, Timothy Murray


Session C2 (Lightning Talks)


  1. Digital Scholarship and the Institutional Culture
    Christopher Long
  1. Why Not Invite a Crowd?: The Open Scholarly Review Experiment for Postmedieval’s “Becoming Media”
    Jen Boyle
  1. “Isn’t that a Tool?”: Interpreting and Championing Digital Scholarly Communication in the Humanities
    Sophia Krzys Acord
  1. Authorial Ecologies: Digging into Image Data to Answer Authorship Related Questions
    Jennifer Guiliano, Michael Simeone, Rob Kooper, Dean Rehberger
  1. Neochoreometry: A Novel Method for Dance Movement Analysis
    Billy Andre


Session D2 (Lightning Talks)

  1. Digital Adaptation
    Monica Williams
  1. Critical Thinking and Digital Literacy
    Chuka Onwumechili
  1. Digital Literacies for a Software Culture
    Megan Ankerson
  1. Beyond Bricks & Pixels: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Organizing a Community in the Digital Age
    Fiona Barnett
  1. Rethinking (Through) Comics
    Nick Sousanis


Session E2 (Feature Program)


  1. New Directions in Communication Studies on the Digital Revolution
    Elliot Panek, Katie Frank, Julia Lange, Candice Haddad, Amanda Cote
  1. The Future of Digital Publishing
    Phil Pochoda (chair), Tara McPherson, Dan Cohen, Richard Eoin Nash


Concurrent Sessions 3:

Session A3 (Lightning Talks)


  1. Project Bamboo: Building Applications and Shared Infrastructure for Humanities Research
    Quinn Dombrowski
  1. Culturomics 2.0 and the Petascale Humanities
    Kalev Leetaru
  1. E3 2011 & the Production of Gaming Knowledge: A Comparative Analysis of In–Person, Online, and TV Contexts
    Julia Lange
  1. Algorithmic Rhetoric and Search Literacy
    John Jones
  1. Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (ARTCA)
    Camilo Acosta (this talk was cancelled due to unforseen circumstances, but you can still follow the link to see information that would have accompanied the presentation)
  1. Supporting Humanities Research on XSEDE
    Dora Cai, Kalev Leetaru, Robert Sinkovits


Session B3 (Lightning Talks)


  1. Western Washington University’s Viking Village: a 21st Century Digital Learning Commons
    Dawn Dietrich
  1. Practice What You Preach: Engaging in Humanities Research Through Critical Praxis
    Janneke Adema
  1. Doing History on Facebook
    Amanda Sikarskie
  1. Switching Codes: Rethinking the Verbal and the Visual After the Revolution
    Roderick Coover, Thomas Bartscherer
  1. Opportunities for Humanities Scholarship in Immersive Scientific Visualizations
    Linda Vigdor


Sessions C3 (Lightning Talks)

  1. From Zero to Sixty in Two Semesters: Establishing the Digital Humanities in GraduatCurricula
    Holly Tucker
  1. Ojibwe Language Classes at the University of Michigan: Culture, Preservation, and the Pedagogy of the Digital Age
    Adam Kriesberg
  1. Digital Literacy and Game–based Learning
    Chris Leeder
  1. Telecollaboration 2.0 in Language Teacher Education – The Role of the Cross–Cultural Mediator
    Shannon Bishop
  1. Architectural Historians and Digital Humanities: Trailblazing for Scholarly Societies
    Allison Benedetti
  1. Recovering the Recovered Text: Digital Canon(s) and Lost Texts
    Amy Earhart

Sessions D3 (Lightning Talks)

  1. Quilt Index International and Digging Into Data: Two Material Digital Repository Initiatives Advancing Global Knowledge Production in the Humanities
    Marsha MacDowell, Mary Worrall, Amanda Sikarskie
  1. Making History in a Virtual Archive: The Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project
    Michael Kramer
  2. Networking the Public Domain: How Fans, Scholars, and Collectors Came Together to Build the Media History Digital Library
    Eric Hoyt
  1. Databases and Enslaved Families: Tracing the Roots of African–American Communities in Virginia
    Lynn Rainville
  1. Chicana por mi Raza: Reunifying the Archive, Recreating the Activist Network
    Maria Cotera
  1. Designing the Archive as Argument
    Kevin Hamilton, Ned O’Gorman

Sessions E3 (Roundtables)

  1. Communicating Book Histories with Digital Metadata
    Kirstyn Leuner, Laura Mandell, Lindsey Eckert
  1. Is Christo the Future of Digital Scholarly Communication
    John Russell, David Baker



Poster Sessions:

For descriptions of the posters presented at HASTAC V plus links to pdfs, websites, and supplemental materials, please see the following individual projects. Also check out Faithe Day’s fantastic write-up of the poster session entitled “Integrating Digital Collections into the Liberal Arts Curriculum.”


1. Curiosity Project


2. Performing the Argument of Digital Writing: The 2011 Conference on Computers and Writing Web Publication


3. Expressing Human Complexity: The Father Divine Project


4. The Fourth Node on the Internet: An Online Display and Digital Library Documenting ARPA Network History at the University of Utah


5. Ellipsis: An Open Source Application for Scholarly Collaboration


6. The Marriage of Standards and Access: Centralized Services as a Tool for Collaboration, Publication and Curation


7. Feminist Interventions in Digital Publishing: The Fembot Project


8. Community-Based Collaborative Yearbook Digitization


9. Learning to Design and Build Apps: Best Practices


10. The People’s Weather Map


11. The Football Scholars Forum – An Online Community of Humanists Studying Soccer


12. Cluster Vision: A System to Dynamically Explore Images and Texts


13. Evil in Modern Thought: A Digital Adaptation


14. E-Textbook Initiatives: How Tapping the Undergraduate Market Can Benefit University Publishing—and Students


15. Views from a Distance: A Nephological Model


16. Integrating Digital Collections into the Liberal Arts Curriculum


17. Radical Effects on Learning: Transforming Communities and Practice



Poster Session: Expressing Human Complexity


The OpenEnded Group:

Digital artists Paul Kaiser, Marc Downie, and Shelley Eshkar comprise the OpenEnded Group. They are explorers of odd sorts, pushing past the edges of space and real time, the confines of traditional media, and the more familiar forms of artistic expression.


Incorporating their own innovative technology, the OpenEnded Group creates immersive digital compositions suggestive of a life after this one. The works trace human movement and serve as melancholy record of the remembrance of the loss. In the few moments offered out of the fray, the projections convey the weirdness of voyeurism. Wearing 3D glasses, sitting in a darkened room, we as viewers become weightless, unencumbered, unearthed. We watch ourselves and someone is watching us, contemplating our own small gestures and the grandeur of our fallen monuments.


The OpenEnded Group residency with the U-M Institute for the Humanities encompasses two installations. Loops, in the Institute for the Humanities gallery on central campus, is a 3D representation of Merce Cunningham’s solo dance for his hands. The choreography is accompanied by a recording of Cunningham reading excerpts from his journals. These sensory elements serve as artifact and capture the labyrinthine relationship between reminiscence, erasure, and reinvention.




Loops formally considers the challenge of preserving cultural memory and live performance in a digital age. Both Loops the dance and Loops the digital work exist in the present, never repeated exactly from one performance or installation to the next. Neither work can be truly captured by film or videotape. The Loops project invokes a living, breathing work. The hybrid of choreographed human movement and computer software allow for ongoing iterations and imaginings far into the future.


The second installation, plant, a 3-D investigation of the abandoned Packard auto plant in Detroit, premieres in the Duderstadt Gallery on North Campus. Kaiser (the 2011 Kidder Resident in the Arts), Downie, and Eshkar shot over 10,000 images of every detail of the plant, then used these as raw material to create the completed composition. The resulting twenty- foot projection captures the enormity of the site: the vastness of deserted corridors, the sheer drops of stairwells, and the incongruity of the open sky. Recorded ambient sound punctuates the piece with scattered signs of life and the unsettling randomness of events.


As outsiders stepping in, the artists archive the exquisite power of this urban ruin in a post-industrial age, as compelling as any mausoleum or cathedral. The work further engages conversation regarding our attraction to ruin and our presumption of understanding, and raises unavoidable questions about art, responsibility, and community.


Post-Conference Reflections:

Many bloggers commented on the conference after (and during) their attendance, both on the HASTAC website and elsewhere. You can see a collection of these reflections here. Reviews of the conference were generally positive and enthusiastic with a few understandable underlying questions of “where is this going” and “how do I make it fit into my career trajectory.” Major questions that were raised included:

  • How to use the Digital Humanities to interact with and build up communities as well as to collaborate within diverse populations? (see Faithe Day’s post)
  • How can we use digital data in a meaningful way?
  • What if people choose to pursue scholarly work not because they think it's a good living, but because they are seeking a way to pursue an intellectual project they believe matters––and not just to themselves? (see Alexis Lothian’s post)
  • James Neal hopes that the digital humanities, through both its projects and its practitioners, can pay more attention to race, gender, class, and sexuality.
  • And finally, a mantra at HASTAC, how do we make collaboration through difference meaningful?


Cathy Davidson also wrote a great summary of HASTAC’s history and goals for those who are interested.


Twitter Archives:

As Alexis Lothian blogged “It felt so great to be surrounded by other scholarly geeks: to be sharing ideas on twitter and scarcely be able to tell who was following the conference in person and who was elsewhere.” This is one of the amazing things about being part of a network that is both virtual and physical in nature. Although many participants posted records of their own twitter archives here, a master Twitter archive has also been created as a Google spreadsheet


In Conclusion:

As Micha Cárdenas wrote: “Overall, the HASTAC conference was an incredibly rich experience, and perhaps the most important moments were the wonderful receptions where we could discuss our own work and our own concerns with other scholars in attendance. Over and over again I would start up a conversation with someone only to be amazed by the high caliber of their work and the many resonances their work had with my own.” Unfortunately those receptions and the conversations that took place at them are not something that can be documented, but were intimately experienced by those in attendance.


According to Margaret Rhee: “HASTAC V was incredible, insightful, and inspiring. All of which ignites imagination and further action toward our futures. Toward a university structure that is not located in our previous century, but in our present.” This is exactly the kind of thinking that co-founder Cathy Davidson hoped for not only at the conference but also amongst members of HASTAC in general.



 Ann Arbor at night


Finally: Thanks to Mikko Tuomela and Fiona Barnett whose photography has graced this page and has been incorporated into the other conference proceedings pages.


HASTAC V Conference Proceedings curated and summarized by Zoë Marie Jones.