Questions: how to get traditional scholars to accept DH?

At the North American Victorian Studies Association conference, I was talking 
to a junior Victorianist who says she has members of her
dissertation committee who are hostile to DH. What are the scholarly
standards, what’s the payoff? Are there different challenges in
different areas to persuade traditional scholars that digital research
is more than shiny packaging? Any suggestions about how to link the
more customary and the technological methodologies and gain from the
different kinds of questions you can ask in projects of different
scale or with new tools?
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About Alison Booth

I enjoy teaching courses in Victorian fiction, women writers, Gothic, narrative theory, auto/biography, travel, and other topics, uniting my research interests and willingness to adapt technology in the classroom with my insistence on critical and writing skills. In research, I have expanded my feminist and narratological studies of cultural and literary history in Britain and North America since 1830 into digital humanities and bibliography. A continuing theme in my books and articles has been the reception history of authors and the construction of collective biographical histories, or prosopographies; this theme informed my first book, on historical concepts of a common life and a female literary tradition in George Eliot and Virginia Woolf and it continues in my explorations of public representations of imagined community such as Mount Rushmore and of cultural tourism, museums, and biography. I have persistently worked across the boundaries of period (nineteenth to twentieth centuries), nationality (particularly transatlantic Anglophone), media and audience (word-image, novel and film, celebrity and popular culture). My work in narrative theory has focused on life writing and the prevalent form of collections of short biographies (prosopographies), concentrated in my bibliography of collective biographies of women and the related book, How to Make It as a Woman (2004). The annotated bibliography has been developed as an online site sponsored by the University of Virginia Library, and now forms part of the peer-reviewed NINES digital consortium. In 2010, with collaborators in Scholars' Lab, we launched a new version of "CBW." In 2010-2012, as Resident Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, we developed a schema (Biographical Elements and Structure Schema) for comparative analysis of versions of one person's life or short biographies in various types of collection, along with a database of the 8,000 women in the 12,000+ collections in the project. Meanwhile, I am nearing completion of a book, another exploration of reception, cultural tradition, and collective biographical representation. Entitled “Writers Revisited: Transatlantic Literary Tourism, House Museums, and Biography,” it focuses on the narratives and performances of visits to the writer's house as tourism and museums evolved along with Anglo-American canons in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

One thought on “Questions: how to get traditional scholars to accept DH?

  1. At my institution, departments have been asked to define the types (and amount) of publications that are needed for an individual to get tenure. We explicitly noted the importance of digital publications and/or projects. For departments that are less than up-to-date, it is still necessary for the person doing the research to explain clearly what the digital methods are that she is using, and why. Being able to do so is important for job and grant applications as well as tenure committees. We can’t assume that people will just “know” what we are doing, we have to explain it in ways that anyone can understand. And being able to explain clearly is also something we need to do as writers and teachers!

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