04/08 – 10/08 Melanie Cooper-Dobbin

This week @wethehumanities welcomes practitioner-turned-researcher Melanie Cooper-Dobbins, who is based in South Australia.  Her work again demonstrates how very hard it is to fit to keep within these subject boundaries that we’re all negotiating: her art history reseach spans science, philosophy, history and literature.

Hello Everyone!

My name is Melanie Cooper-Dobbin, and my Twitter handle is @dustbunny14.  I am currently working towards completing my PhD thesis in Art History, and as like-minded others have already confessed, I have great trouble limiting myself to just one thing or subject at a time. My field of academic specialisation lies within the eighteenth-century, but my research and curiosity often lead me back a little further into the late seventeenth.  My current research interests are primarily focused on visual representations of classical mythology and constructions of gender, and I have found that I am very much drawn to interdisciplinary scholarship, probably because I can’t help myself! As an art historian, I have been led by my research into terrain I had never thought I would cross – eighteenth-century naturalism, philosophy, atomism, medical history, literature and the history of sexuality.  Despite the great challenges and humbling experience of producing a thesis, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to explore such fascinating lines of enquiry.

I am also a practicing visual artist with formal qualifications, and the urge to create is in constant conflict with my research and writing.  Indeed, perhaps the biggest challenge has been learning to be a writer, which is something I had not thought to pursue – beyond my teenage ramblings, that is!  Again, as previous curators have commented before me, I suffer from ‘Impostor syndrome’, too! Recently, I have also taken great comfort in discovering that so many of you out there are knitters, and the gentle art of knitting and crochet has begun to impose itself on my creative practice, extending beyond the comforts of my lounge room. As in academia, so in art – my practice is driven by an enthusiasm for a variety of subjects and mediums, some of which I am very pleased to share with you this coming week.

Thank you for joining me!

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28/07 – 04/08 Begonya Cayuela

From science to unfinished Victorian novels and now to Medieval art; the humanities is nothing if not varied.  This week’s curator hails from Barcelona and continues our theme (intentional, of course) of multidisciplinarity.  It strikes me that Medieval Studies has gained a lot from the Digital Humanities and has more to gain still; whilst studying a digitised manuscript is very different from examining the original the digitisation of texts must open up the field to many people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to access materials.  It looks like we’ve got another fascinating week ahead!

My name is Begonya Cayuela and I am a Ph.D. in Medieval Art although my daily work deals with databases, soft and web programming. As a researcher, I am a member of Ars Picta, a research group of the Department of Art History of the University of Barcelona. I am also part of the Institut de Recerques en Cultures Medievals (IRCVM), a transversal academic organization of the University of Barcelona devoted to all things medieval.  Nevertheless, like some other temporary curators of the Twitter account @Wethehumanities, I could say that I live in the margins of Academia, in a multidisciplinary world.

My interest in Medieval Art History had led me to participate actively in social networks such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+. For instance, I curate a Facebook page called Medieval Art with more than 13,000 fans. In Twitter, you can find me as @begonyacayuela, and I have recently opened the account @MedievalArt1 dedicated exclusively to my passion, Medieval Art. There is also a new companion website of Medieval Art, but it is still in progress and it is not yet online. I will let you know when it is ready.

Furthermore, the combination of my tasks as a researcher and my daily job allowed me to collaborate with Ars Picta developing a database and a website to document the subject of the research of the group, the Romanesque art of the Pyrenees, especially those of the Catalan area.

My own research deals with Medieval iconography, focused on subjects like the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus or the cycle of Cain and Abel. My interests spread to the Digital Humanities, or more precisely, how Medieval Art History is present in the digital media. I am working on a website to map out a corpus of the iconography of the sacrifice of Isaac.

My curiosity spans from traditional Art History and Iconography to the Digital Humanities. I focus my preferences in the migration of medieval iconography to the Digital world; especially I am concerned with the “visibility” and “invisibility” of images and the challenges of their processing, whether automatic or manual, in order to describe them accurately. Images are the raw data in any research of Medieval Art History. I intend that this approach alongside with the presence of Medieval Art History in Internet will be the framework of my week turn curation of the account @Wethehumanities.

21/07 – 28/07 Camilla Ulleland Hoel

This week’s curator returns us to Norway so prepare to grow envious over funding and landscapes again. As Camilla explains below she did her undergraduate degree in Everything and, as a result, I spent most of the time I was reading her post scribbling a list of people I wanted to tell about her curation – there’s something here to keep everyone interested.  I say ‘most of the time’ because the rest was spent trying to stifle my giggles at my desk; she has a wonderful way of putting things and I think we’re in for another fab week.
 
My name is Camilla Ulleland Hoel (in my daily Twitter existence I go by the rather unimaginative handle @camilla_hoel), and, as I suspect will become evident during the week ahead, I have trouble choosing between interesting things.   
 
I have sometimes been a little envious of academics who can limit themselves to one field, but I am having too much fun with the range of the humanities to envy them very much. Starting university, I felt like a child in a sweets emporium, and it got worse when I realised everything became more interesting the closer you looked at it. My undergraduate studies were a strange hodgepodge of humanities subjects (what can I say? It was the happy pre-recession days when unicorns of happiness were bathed in rainbows around every corner, and my main concern was learning Everything; also, studying is free in Norway). I studied comparative religion, history, ancient cultures and comparative literature, and it was not until I got to the latter that I realised what had really interested me about the others was the way in which they told stories. 
 
Then, to make matters worse, I fell head over heels in love with literary theory (I know!); I threw caution to the winds and went to Edinburgh to write a Master’s thesis on parody in Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Malcolm Pryce; and I liked it so much I stayed for my PhD. 
 
My PhD was an analysis of the importance of the figure of the author in how readers have approached unfinished Victorian serial novels. This may sound dry, but that is not taking into account the plethora of oddness written after Charles Dickens died and left The Mystery of Edwin Drood only half finished. I analysed the speculations about how Dickens might have completed it, the actual completions attempted and the reactions to them. They range from spiritualist completions purporting to be written by Dickens (posthumously), via three-volume melodramas, to postmodern treatments of the problem. I am dedicating at least one day to Dickens, Victorians and all things Drood this week; however, as I warned you initially, I am not very good at sticking to just one topic. 
 
I spent last semester working on an annotated bibliography on Sherlock Holmes, thoroughly immersed in Sherlockiana and Holmes studies, and I have every intention of discussing Holmes and detective novels in detail and at length with anyone remotely willing. Moreover, I finally got to indulge another interest of mine this semester, creating and teaching a course on Science Fiction (and I am spending the week writing a talk on androids, aliens and “the other” for a science fiction convention here in Trondheim), so Science Fiction, otherness and geek culture is most definitely on the agenda. And I am desperately trying to finish an article on another science fiction author, so I would like to hear your thoughts on writing (and will take any kind of advice on getting past the impostor syndrome). 
 
In addition to being an academic, I am also a bibliophile, a geek, a knitter (& a spinner) and a feminist, all of which I am happy to talk about if you are. 

14/07 – 20/07 Meg Rosenburg

This week the humanities meets the sciences with Meg Rosenburg, aka @trueanomolies, who’s spent the last week curating for @realscientists. She’s had a fabulous reception over there and we’re very excited to see what she does with her week with us.

Hi there! I’m a recent Ph.D. graduate from the California Institute of Technology and I normally tweet at @trueanomalies. When I first heard about @WetheHumanities, I was very happy to see a co-curated Twitter account go in this direction, because I feel it has a lot of potential to open a window into the lives of academics working within the humanities. I’ve greatly enjoyed the previous curators and I’ve been introduced to other fields and careers about which I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to learn otherwise.

While my Ph.D. is in planetary science, I’ve been working in parallel with faculty in the History and Philosophy of Science division at Caltech on historical research into lunar crater theories, mostly in the early 20th century. By some cosmic coincidence, I was asked to curate @realscientists – a popular rotating account curated by scientists and science communicators – just last week, and this juxtaposition makes for a rather fitting metaphor for my life at the moment! Coming from science to the history of science has been challenging over the past few years, and the online community of historians of science and technology (#histsci, #histtech, #twitterstorians) has been a great source of encouragement and inspiration.

During my week at @WetheHumanities, I plan to share a bit about my research, as well as my efforts to incorporate history of science principles into science communication strategies. I’m looking forward to a great week – thank you so much for joining me!

07/07 – 14/07 Lawrence Shapiro

Dear “We the Humanities” Readers—

I began my week of blogging from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA, last night, actually as I rode back in a car from an Independence Day four-day fast, abstaining from all media and digital contact, without cell phone, hotspot connection, 4G tablet, laptop or McDonald’s parking lot with wifi.  No satellite linkup either.  In a cabin on a river with a bunch of bookworms.  I hadn’t really recognized that my connectivity would really be nil, so I apologize for my digital absence.
 
But I am back and plan to guide my post along four different paths of engagement.   They reflect the work I am doing this week: 
 
Strand 1 is strictly academic, Alois Riegl, Friedrich S Krauss and the Formation of Collaborative Ethnographic Networks  in 19th C. Vienna, #Riegl #FSKrauss  
 
in fact.  I’m refining a text from my dissertation (about to burst forth) about the development of liberal, cosmopolitan ethnography in Vienna, 1883-1895.
A vibrant discourse of notably refined, politically engaged and cosmopolitan qualities, including an intriguing set of overlapping social networks that I began to record with simple tools of social network mapping.  I would love to tell you abut them.  
 
Chances are you have not heard of Alois Riegl, art historian and theorist of historic preservation for civic nationalism; or Friedrich S. Krauss, gadfly, innovator in ethnographic practice in designing questionnaires for South Slavic folklore.  Each described his fieldwork, as professional steward, of culture in the terms of ethnographic practice and developed intellectually within the circles of the Vienna Anthropological Society.
 
And I will try to make their names resonate with other figures from 19th century formations of national institutions of cultural study in Europe and North America.  The Viennese circles were surprisingly vibrant in their perception of cultural ethnography as a field of Kulturwissenschaft, cultural studies that was framed as an Enlightenment impulse to push back superstition; and  to reframe ethnicity and battle forms of ethnic/racial nationalism with counter models of a civic nationalism for the Austrian Empire with its multiple ethnicities of “Nationalities.” 
 
I’ll pose some provocative thoughts to you and share insight into an intriguing chapter of intellectual history and activism in support of the constitutional protections of ethnic and religious groups, under significant threat from anti-Semitism and forms of Slavic-Germanophone polarization.  
 
To whet your appetite: Riegl was read with profound interest by Walter Benjamin and by members of the Bauhaus and many German intellectuals in the 1920’s.  Krauss was the sometimes official, sometimes unofficial representative of the Austrian ethnographic establishment in Philadelphia in 1885, in Paris in 1889, in Chicago in 1893.  He had a longstanding correspondence with Franz Boas, the German anthropologist who emigrated to the US, and held crucial positions at Columbia University.   at the National Museum of Natural History in New York and as head of the anthropology department at Columbia.  
 
This social network material becomes my second path of engagement:
Social Network Mapping for the Humanities, #dh #netmap
I would like to engage you with discussion about one tool I used successfully, NodeXL, a free add-on to Excel for Windows and to provoke some substantive contributions to relate topics of adding some powerful analytic-representational tools to the quiver of the poet and the humanist.  But really to invite some discussion about issues that you see as related.
 
And the third path of my engagement this week: Cities of Learning, Open Badges (specific open metadata standard for digital badges) #CofL #openbadges 
As I pursue the ongoing professional development of the American Humanist, the ineffable Digital Humanities have led me to several unconferences in Philadelphia and NJ in recent months.  I offered workshops two weeks ago related to badges, verifiable and portable electronic credentials for participation and achievement of competencies, and their integration into City of Learning programs.  Recently the City of Learning initiative has been developed with much research and funding for planning and implementation from  the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, the Mozilla Foundation (advocates open internet), the mayor of Chicago, and the Clinton Global Initiative.  City of Learning is successful in Chicago and recently in other cities in creating partnerships in creation of an ecology of youth working towards work-related competencies in all sorts of cultural activities, service learning, work and apprenticeship, all of which are quantified with badges.  Related uses of badges will be familiar to some in the UK, I presume.  I will include links to all sorts of topics in the Twitter feed.
 
Finally, I am working in various channels to understand the nature of collaborative networks.
So from my historical work on Vienna comes:
 
Comparative Practices of Civic Nationalism in the late 19th Century Stewardship of History and Culture, cf. Kulturwissenschaften– hashtags to follow.  This is my challenge to you: to formulate some terms of comparison that would enable us to share some ideas systematically.  We could channel that exchange into another virtual space if that might prove useful.
 
My mode of engagement with discourse networks in Vienna in the late 19th century benefited from the contemporary network mapping concept being applied to that system of active creation of collaborative structures.  We like the idea of creating collaborative structures now to study the development of collaborative structures then.  I would be delighted to generate some discussion about the comparative histories between late 19th century institutions of stewardship of national culture: museums, ethnographic and folklore societies and the professionalizing practices of empirical social research.  
 
And away we go!
 
Best,
 
Lawrence 
 
@lawrshap
 
please feel free to email me: