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Amanda Seligman @AmandaISeligman
, 15 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
Thinking about how to explain #publichistory and #digitalhistory scholarship to colleagues on academic #tenure and promotion committees, especially those who are used to sole-authored books as the gold standard #dh #digitalhumanities 1/15
The core of the work is familiar: conceptualization, research, and writing (even if the ultimate presentation is not in the form of prose). The work is original and interpretive, just like traditional monographic scholarship. 2/15
But #publichistory’s attention to #sharedauthority means that the work is developed in cooperation with the public, a process that sometimes provokes conflict and controversy that the scholar has to manage. Sometimes great potential projects can’t come to fruition. 3/15
Also, because of the public audience, the language of project development and presentation have to be translated from Reflexive Academese to Understandable English, a leap many scholars never make even when they master grammar. 4/15
Further #digitalhistory projects are almost invariably collaborative. So part of the work is comparable to what bench scientists do, coordinating numerous other people and getting everyone’s research pieces pointing in the same direction. 5/15
Collaboration also means the #digitalhistorian has to tolerate not understanding or being able personally to execute all the work. This is a skill that graduate programs in #history don’t usually cultivate, instead valorizing the lone hero(ine)-scholar #RuggedIndividualism. 6/15
Next the problem of publishing a #publichistory #digitalhistory project. If you write a book and get an academic (or even trade) contract, the labor of turning a manuscript into a book is largely invisible to authors incurious about how it works. 7/15
What services do presses provide for books? Rarely indexing. Sometimes editing. Also copyediting (thanks @ChicagoManual); design; cover art; printing; marketing/publicity; sales and distribution; international sales; film rights. I’m probably forgetting something here. 8/15
But for your #publichistory #digitalhistory project, you get to do all of that too. And your design choices are deeply substantive, because you have to match the form to your message. Exhibit? Podcast? Film? Encyclopedia? Don’t choose wrong at the outset. 9/15
And along the way you might have to build a website for your museum exhibit or learn to speak to #twitterstorians to promote your #digitalhistory project. 10/15
Also, #tenure and #promotion committees have to grasp issues around the scale of projects, trying to make sense of what’s a small project that a person can do almost on her own, and what requires years and dozens of people to bring to light. 11/15
Because of all these complications, part of a #publichistory or #digitalhistory project might be raising funds to execute the project. Humanities grants are small. Even if you are successful, if your project is big, get ready to #LatherRinseRepeat. 12/15
And how do we know if your #publichistory #digitalhistory project is “finished”? Don’t get me started. We are a decade into @MkeEncyclopedia and hoping to wrap up Phase 1 in the next year. 13/15
All of these issues feed into assessment of the quality and success of #publichistory and #digitalhistory projects. Definitely not automatically less than print books. In many cases more work and more audience. 14/15
So, this academic promotion season, don’t look for easy equivalences. Ask a public or digital historian for input. And take the opportunity to teach your colleagues the depth of #dh work we’ve been learning to do. 15/15
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