Weekend Reading: Snow is Gone Edition

13018821955_93f93233af_bThough many of you have been enjoying spring for awhile now, here in New England the snow is just now (mostly) melted, though a few of the storeys-tall piles will be around for awhile yet. In celebration of warmer weather, I’ve compiled a list of aspirational readings for your weekend enjoyment or edification:

  • Over at Vitae, Paula Krebs writes about mediating tempers and feuds among faculty at her institution, advocating for an approach from “a framework of kindness” rather than antipathy.

    We get in trouble when we don’t operate from a framework of kindness. That may sound odd coming from a manager. It may sound especially odd from me — I have been told, in a polite way, that I am “candid,” “straightforward,” “brusque.” I am not advocating a kindness that prevents us from arguing for what we think is right. What I mean by kindness: Keeping in mind that the other person has a perspective, a reason for acting in a way that may be annoying us, or getting in our way, or even destroying something that we see as good.

  • Along the lines of empathy, Casey Schmitt has an intriguing piece at Junto about finding the people in the midst of typically dispassionate historical research.

    While it might not seem like an earth-shaking conclusion to some, those parting words seemed aimed right at me. Charged with “reading against the grain,” I had dissected Captain Tinoco’s narrative for what it could tell me about seventeenth-century Santo Domingo’s race relations. It had never occurred to me until the end that I was also reading about Captain Tinoco’s “friends and comrades,” some who died fighting close quarter combat with lances against a terrifyingly large invasion force.

  • The AHA’s new Forum on History as a Book Discipline is worthwhile for anyone invested in the present and future of scholarly publishing, particularly in the humanities. I would particularly recommend Lara Putnam’s “The Opportunity Costs of Remaining a Book Discipline,” which historicizes the monograph in terms of media and access in ways I find compelling.

    In a pre-Internet era, books were routinely more visible and more accessible than journal articles. Card catalogs and book indexes were key conduits to information. In contrast, journals had to be searched title by title at best, or examined issue by issue for those that didn’t publish multiyear indices…Within that information ecosystem, books were both more visible and more accessible than articles, and the fact that they were long—encompassing every useful fact a given scholar had uncovered over the course of about a decade, and every smart thought she had had about those facts—was a feature, not a bug.

  • If the forum above sparks your curiosity about what digital scholarship could look like, I would encourage you to spend some time with Amanda Visconti’s dissertation, which she defended this week at the University of Maryland. The dissertation brings together a digital edition of Joyce’s Ulysses, the code and design elements, a methods manifest, a research blog, and a whitepaper. To my mind, Visconti’s work models (one) kind of scholarship we might aspire toward in the digital age, and I hope other scholars look to it as they plan their digital humanities dissertations and longer projects.

    First, I designed, coded, and publicly released an actual digital edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses with various experimental interface features. Second, I conducted user testing and analyzed site analytic data with real readers and researchers. Third, I used the results of the experiment to build on knowledge from fields with a stake in digital social reading: literary studies, textual scholarship, information science, and visual design rhetoric. I’m using this speculative experiment to dream big about the public humanities, produce something practically useful, and capture data to support critical responses to the challenges of a more public digital humanities.

  • In less serious reading, I recently discovered Mallory Ortberg’s hilarious “Two Monks Inventing Things” series at the Toast. Ortberg is the author of the equally-wonderful book Texts from Jane Eyre, which also adapts modern communications tropes toward sharp, satirical literary/historical/social critique.

    MONK #1: what kind of bird tucks people into bed at night

    usually I mean

    MONK #2: any bird

    any kind of walking bird

    MONK #1: and when it tucks you in, people usually look…

    MONK #2: incredibly worried

    it’s incredibly worrying when the bedbird tucks you in

This week’s video follows my theme of the week: “A long time coming but now / the snow is gone”!

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Jamie McCaffrey.]

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