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News about the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab

DHIL's New Fall 2018 Technical Fellow!

Published by Rebecca Dowson

Hello! Hannah Holtzclaw here, the Digital Humanities and Innovation Lab’s newest technical fellow. As a new team member to DHIL, I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and the role of DH in my personal pedagogy and philosophy.

First and foremost, I am DHIL’s first Communication student! Communications is a very interdisciplinary  discipline. Peer research in my field varies from how cultural identity is negotiated in contemporary women’s novels, the political implications of open-data in post-revolutionary Ukraine, to how colonial archives reduce and mute the distinct and rich oral histories of indigenous knowledge to mere objects. No two communication students look at the subject of communicative practice in the same light, part of the beauty (or as some might argue, the mess) of Communications is the situatedness of any individual trajectory of communication research.

In my experience, communication studies highlight the distinctly, and necessarily variegated, human practice of interpreting the world through language practices. Not with empiricist goals of projecting the world in our own image, but in foregrounding that human interaction -- communication, language and its variant  (digital and otherwise) instruments and artifacts -- provides as the primary means with which we, as human actors, can study the world. The parameters and tools with which we proceed with this endeavor inevitably must be variegated and interdisciplinary in order to materialize such a phenomenon with any degree of justice or truth.

 So, what makes up my own situated practice for research?

Originally from Seattle and an alumni from the University of Washington, I hold a bachelor’s in communication with a minor in politics. Currently, I am pursuing an MA thesis in SFU’s School of Communication, where my research incorporates feminist perspectives into the study of interface design and theory placing emphasis on the epistemological and ideological figurations of human and human agency materialized by contemporary interface design systems.

I am particularly interested in digital humanities because I consider digital design, how we see and experience information in the virtual, a cultural and political project that, in 2018, engages and implicates every discipline in the academy. The encampments that many disciplines erect in their research avoids the messy overlap and contingent relationships academic research has with digital technologies. It ignores the fact that these artifacts, objects, instruments -- are outcomes of social agency. Digital Humanities provides as an interdisciplinary mess making space for exploring this through collaborative innovation.

Technology doesn't evolve inside a vacuum -- it is a reflection of historical socio-material practices. Examining and imagining the digital from a humanities perspective, in both theory and practice, for me, is a critical task of contemporary research. Technology, unlike the natural world, does materialize in accordance with the milieu of its historical and cultural "image". Understanding this relationship, and both the responsibility and potentiality embedded within it, is the task of digital humanities scholarship.  A task I am very excited to now join and assist the rest of the team at DHIL in undertaking.


-- Post by Hannah Holtzclaw