Now, Voyager: Beginning a Journey in Digital Humanities

“What should I write about first?”

For a few weeks now, I’ve been asking myself this question as if the perfect post was out there in the world, and all I had to do was wait for it to find me.

After attending my first THATCamp (dc2014!) last Saturday, April 26th at George Washington University, I realized that the perfect first post would be any post. All I had to do was sit still and write it.

As a graduate student at George Washington University’s English Department, I’ve spent much of this last year online looking through databases as part of my ongoing research on nineteenth-century American and hemispheric literature. However, I have also found various ways to distract myself online with everything from Youtube to Twitter to Tumblr, and I have become fascinated by the ways in which people with various levels of knowledge can reach wider audiences and influence and mobilize people. While I understand and appreciate the ideals of the Ivory Tower, I would like to use and present my academic research for pedagogical use to a larger, general audience as well.

Therefore, I have started this blog with one main goal in mind: to learn about and participate more in the world of Digital Humanities. It’s a lofty goal as “digital humanities” lingers in my mind like a lofty, nebulous term. In the next few weeks and months, I will keep track of whatever knowledge I acquire about digital humanities and web development. My goals in acquiring these new skills are not grounded in a need for more money (though I’d love more) or job (though I’d love to have a well-paid one!). I am simply curious and have a lot of questions. Is there a way to translate my research and the connections I’ve been making regarding race, space, and interiority to an online database or site? What would such a project look like? What would I need to learn to make this possible? What would it mean for my research to be public in such a way? I have no answers to these questions right now, but I believe that asking these questions and asserting these new goals in the here and now is a necessary first step in moving forward in any direction.

And thus ends my first post in what I hope will be the beginning of a wonderful journey in learning new skills and getting out of my comfort zone in some fun, frustrating and rewarding ways!