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NYCDH Reflection: A Call for More Workshops for Workers

I have little to say about the NYC Digital Humanities week because I was unable to attend, due to the fact that I have three full-time jobs which require me to be in offices and classrooms Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

I have more to say about not having gone. As a student in the Digital Humanities MA Program at CUNY Graduate Center, this series of talks and workshops was of great interest to me. I was distressed to find that 37 of NYCDH’s 39 workshops had been scheduled Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm. The other two – one at Columbia’s Butler Library and another at CUNY Graduate Center – had been scheduled at 6:30pm. Unfortunately, the two evening sessions were on the two evenings I have class. Wait! – I’m not asking NYCDH to tailor its schedule to my individual needs. I’m asking NYCDH to offer workshops and talks every evening of the week from 6:30 to 10:30pm, to meet the needs of people like me. A great many MA students, who don’t get the same funding as PhD students, have jobs. Many are adjuncts, wherefore talks, panels and workshops benefit not only them but also those whom they teach.[1]

I asked one of the NYCDH organizers why almost all of the NYCDH events had been scheduled between 10am and 5pm. I explained that it’s difficult for people with day jobs to attend. The organizer told me that it’s not easy to secure spaces where lectures and workshops can take place after 5pm. In New York City. Yes.

Many practitioners of Digital Humanities are keenly aware that the field must strive to be more inclusive of people from different economic, ethnic, racial and social backgrounds. In Digital Humanities: the Expanded Field (2016), Lauren F. Klein and Matthew K. Gold critique the idea, which had been embraced by ADHO in 2011 and by DH Debates in 2012, that digital humanities could be described as a big tent, arguing that not everyone fits in the tent. In 2016, Klein and Gold proposed instead “the model of an expanded field […] that aims to foreclose the question of “who’s in and who’s out” by allowing the “differently structured possibilities” of the digital humanities to emerge.”[2]

To be expansive and inclusive, NYCDH should make more lectures and workshops available to students, adjuncts and other digital humanists who have full time or multiple part time jobs. Institutional support for students who can request days off work but cannot do without the income would be another way to help those students attend.

[1] The problem of economic exclusion in academia is brilliantly discussed in The Absent Presence: Today’s Faculty by Brian Croxall, a visiting assistant professor of English at Clemson University who delivered a paper in absentia at the MLA conference in 2009 because he could not afford to go.

[2] Lauren F. Klein and Matthew K. Gold, “Digital Humanities: the Expanded Field.” DH Debates, 2016.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 15, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Sabina,

    I just got around to catching up on some blog posts so I just read your post. I completely agree. I find it incredibly problematic that, for the most part, the NYC Digital Humanities events were not accessible to those of us who work full time jobs or exist outside of traditional academia. This creates barriers of privilege of who gets to be apart of the conversation, gain the knowledge and attend, and those who don’t. I find this to be the opposite of what Digital Humanities aims to achieve. I’m glad you spoke up about this issue and I feel strongly that this needs to be addressed by NYC Digital Humanities organizers.

    Thank you for addressing this in your post!

    Brittany

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