28/04 – 05/05/14 Wendy Davis

Humanities friends – please welcome our next @wethehumanities curator.  Although she has a PhD, her week will take us a step away from academia and into Library and Information Science – a first for this account.  I’m also looking forward to her insights into education and librarianship in Australia and maybe a glimpse or two of some sunny Bundaberg beaches for the heat-deprived Northern Europeans among us (and perhaps the town’s famous rum too?).

Hello everyone.

My name is Wendy Davis and I’m really looking forward to curating We the Humanities from April 28, 2014. I live in Bundaberg, which is about four hours drive north of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia.

I completed a PhD in cultural studies in 2007. My PhD was about television’s technological liveness, comedy with a specific focus Australian television. Basically it was a lot of textual analysis through a poststructuralist theoretical lens. Foucault, Deleuze, Bakhtin and others were my people. At the same time, I was working as a lecturer at CQUniversity in their university bridging program here in Bundaberg. I taught the mechanics of basic academic writing and research, as well as other tertiary preparation skills to adults returning to university.

Cultural studies wasn’t my first or last encounter with humanities. On leaving high school I completed a classical music undergraduate degree majoring in piano. I still teach the piano and work as an accompanist here in Bundaberg where I live. This arts practice is an important part of my identity as well.

Currently, I am in a period of transition. In a leap of faith, I left my permanent lecturing position at the end of last year. In 2011 I began a coursework Masters through QUT in Library and Information Science. In doing so, I have formalized my love and fascination with social media and have a burgeoning interest in the digital humanities. I plan to finish the Masters this year and who knows what will happen next.

I hope to use my time curating We the Humanities to start some conversations about the state of humanities teaching and research in Australia. I’d love to talk about working in the humanities outside of metropolitan areas and hear about the experiences of others. And I’d love to learn as much as I can from scholars in the digital humanities both in Australia and from around the world.

21/4/14 – 28/4/14 – Kristina West

This week’s curator is… erm… me! As the founders of We the Humanities, we thought it would be good to let you know a little about us and our interests, bugbears, studies, etc, and it’s my turn first.Hope you enjoy it as much as I expect to. Here goes…

 

Hi, I’m Krissie and I’m one of your We the Humanities founders – along with the lovely and talented Jess Sage, who came up with the idea in the first place – and for this week, I am also your curator. It’s both odd and exciting to be on the other side of the fence, and I’ve spent some time wondering what I’m going to talk to you about.

The best place to start would be my current research – I’m a third year part-time PhD student at the University of Reading, and I’m researching constructions of childhood in Transcendentalist literature. Apologies if I’m preaching to the knowledgeable but for those of you not up on your nineteenth century American literature/history, Transcendentalism was primarily an intellectual movement based in New England from the 1830s. Its best known writers are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, although I’m spending much of my time at the moment researching Bronson Alcott, father of the better-known Louisa May.

I love my work because it encompasses so many disciplines – literature, philosophy, religion, education and social reform, to name but a few. I’m also particularly interested in how a movement with such a strong oral tradition translates to the page and the tension between written and oral; writings of biography as related to children; and I love my critical theory – Judith Butler, Freud and Jacqueline Rose and many others.

I’m a mature student – I combine my studies with looking after my two lovely children, helping to run this account, working with The Story Consultancy on their fascinating approach to storytelling in a business context, the last vestiges of my 16-year career in journalism and writing the odd book review. I think it’s safe to say that I’m rarely bored.

But my interests range far beyond this. For example, I’m interested in what feminism means for women today. I’m an academic, so I’m probably reasonably clever (in that sense at least) but I wear make-up and I like nice shoes. And I have thought these things through; it wasn’t just a senseless non-decision as some people assume. Does that have to be incompatible with my bedrock belief in gender equality in all its forms? The no make-up selfie was a particularly interesting case in point: positioned as it was as something both frightening and desirable. Are we more ‘real’ without make-up as that which covers us up? If so, why stop there? After all, how nude is nude and where can we site that so-called reality?

I’m also fascinated by those crossover points, where different aspects of the humanities come together to meet or maybe clash, and where the humanities touch the sciences, business and everyday life. What do the humanities mean to those people who don’t work in our fields? Are they a waste of time and money? The stuff of life? Not something that people even think about or are aware of; a non-subject?

I look forward to discussing all this and more with you. Probably over a biscuit and a really good coffee.

14/04 – 21/04 Camilla Mørk Røstvik

This week’s curator is Camilla Mørk Røstvik – aka @crostvik – a PhD and GTA in art and science history at University of Manchester. She promises a fascinating week for me in particular due to her research into CERN and how it relates to the arts. From our beginnings inspired by @realscientists, this dialogue between the arts and the sciences continues to fascinate and challenge us all.

 

Hi! Really looking forward to tweeting for We the Humanities, as I have followed many interesting debates on the account the last few months.

My research focuses on an interdisciplinary and feminist reading of CERN’s (the European Organisation for Nuclear Physics in Geneva) use of the arts as a PR tool. With the discovery of the Higgs boson and individuals like Brian Cox creating a frenzy around the laboratory recently, I have been looking at the sidelines of CERN, where women and artists try to do their work, fight their battles and change the narratives of science as success. I hope to discuss my research and findings with you all, and hopefully we can think about whether CERN’s flirtation with the arts is a fling or a serious romance (or maybe even prostitution).

I also hope to continue the debate on Scandinavian HE compared to the UK, as my background is from the University of Oslo and Norway. Several differences come to mind, with fees being the biggest.

Furthermore I’d like to share my experiences with setting up a feminist reading group at the university of Manchester, and hopefully find some support and ideas from those hoping to do the same or those that are doing the same. I can promise its going to be a feminist-heavy week, so get your hairy pits and Virginia Woolfs out!

Last but not least I promised to tweet about favourite writing snacks, which for me is definitely vegan chocolate. I’ve got a strong interest in Human-Animal Studies, and hope to use the chocolate as a bait to lure you all into a conversation about animal rights, veganism and academia – and chocolate. Did I mention chocolate?

Looking forward to discussing with you all, maybe event pleasantly fighting. With a foot in science and one in the humanities, I’m aware of the weaknesses of our field, but nevertheless I believe that the humanities are important in society, and that we can change politics and discourse as much, if not more, than science. And if that fails, there is always (vegan) chocolate, right?

 

07-04 – 13/04 Ellen Muehlberger

This week @wethehumanities comes from the USA, with Michigan Biblical Studies academic Ellen taking over the account. She’s got some really thought-provoking ideas about what ‘the humanities’ means and, I must admit, I know nothing about her research area so I’m looking forward to getting to know another corner of our field.

Hi! I’m eager to start my week as the guest curator @Wethehumanities.

I teach at a large public university, and in my courses I’m always teaching two things: first, the ostensible content of the course, but second, and maybe more important, the intellectual activities that produced that content. I try to get students to see that the knowledge presented to them by textbooks and by secondary sources is the end result of a process that they, too, can perform: reading, analyzing, synthesizing, theorizing, and composing. Making the production of knowledge transparent is the most essential thing that we in the humanities can do—I’d argue it is what binds the category of “the humanities” together.

My solo Twitter account, @emuehlbe, is all about transparency, too: I started a Twitter account in part because I wanted to keep track of the representation of scholarship in a disciplinary organization I belong to, the Society of Biblical Literature (@SBLsite). SBL is the main conference I go to every year, and it publishes both a journal and a book review outlet—the Review of Biblical Literature, which is emailed to members every few weeks. Last spring, I got one of the new issues of RBL, and it struck me: though about two dozen authors, editors, and reviewers were featured, none of them were women. Now, I use Twitter to post new statistics each time the RBL comes out, to talk with other SBL members about the disconnect between the work our members are doing and the work that is reflected back to us in our official outlets of scholarship, and to encourage others to track how their scholarly outlets are faring.

As I became aware of the disparity between male and female scholars represented in the RBL, I also became aware of how few women in my field were visible online. So, I also use my solo account to tweet about the work that I am doing. My tweets are a bit boring: often, it’s just a to-do list for the day. At times posting my daily tasks makes me feel exposed—anyone with an internet connection can see, for example, precisely how long it takes me to revise a conference paper into an article, or how many days I need to translate a relatively short text. But I think making our work processes transparent to one another is as important as making them transparent to students.

So, during the next week, we’ll focus on transparency around the humanities: how do we do what we do? how do we decide what is “scholarship” and who is a “scholar”? what are the aims of the humanities, and are we reaching them? I look forward to the conversation!