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Humanist Archives: Nov. 18, 2018, 6:42 a.m. Humanist 32.199 - Overworked, with opportunities

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 199.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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    [1]    From: Jim Rovira 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities (31)

    [2]    From: Ben Miller 
           Subject: RE: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities (47)

        Date: 2018-11-17 14:16:14+00:00
        From: Jim Rovira 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities

Many thanks to Roopa and Elisa for their responses. Believe me, I know 
the conditions of small regional and low endowment colleges. I worked in 
them for ten years, developing programs, courses, publishing scholarship 
(three books, 30 conferences, book reviews, poems, etc.), and serving as 
department chair with a four/four load. I have nothing but sympathy for the 
faculty who work in those conditions, and I understand the workload you 
need to take on in order to do the things you love.

But my eyes are open, I’m no longer calling it “institutional limitations,” I see 
where their money really goes, and I see it only as a form of abuse now. One 
course release to develop a program that draws in students that generates 
revenue for the institution is a small investment to preserve faculty health 
and well-being and teaching quality. 

I can’t emphasize enough, however, how  well I understand being complicit 
with this to do something you believe in. It’s a life choice, but brand new faculty 
straight out of grad school usually make it without knowing what they are choosing. 

Jim R

Sent from my iPhone

> With all due respect to Dr. Rovira, this is the nature of academic life at a 
regional comprehensive university in the U.S., where teaching loads are high, 
some research is expected (certainly not at R1 rates), and the service load is 
significant. But, when approached strategically, which works well with digital 
humanities, it can afford tremendous professional creativity and freedom - 
without any more than the usual academic overwork (itself a different issue). 

        Date: 2018-11-17 21:00:25+00:00
        From: Ben Miller 
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities

Based on 15 years of working in DH, 8 of which were at regional comprehensive 
universities, I have to agree with Roopika, Elisa, and Jim.  The devil of a job like 
this, from my experience, depends on the quality of the departmental administration.  
If they do moderate their research expectations, forestall major programmatic 
development until after tenure, and have the infrastructure and staff so that the 
new faculty member can primarily focus on DH research rather than DH infrastructure 
development, then the situation could present a good environment for the right 
candidate.  If any of those things are not true, then I would expect the position 
to be a difficult one to navigate successfully.  There's just not enough time in 
the week to do all of that and teach a 4-4.  Elisa's comment about needing 
colleagues who consider DH work to be professional development and not 
service or solely instruction, to me, couldn't be more accurate.  

If there were to be one change that might help that conversation, it would be for 
the MLA to have good guidelines for awarding credit for digital scholarship 
similar to what the AHA already developed.  Until that problem is solved, it's 
too easy for departments to retreat to evaluation standards that either dismiss 
much of the effort someone in DH has to put in to develop their scholarship 
or are unavailable to scholars in DH.   The MLA's guidance here, 
“Documentation of projects might include examples of success at engaging 
new audiences; securing internal or external funding, awards, or other 
professional recognition; and fostering adoption, distribution, or publication 
of digital works, as well as reviews and citations of the work in print or digital 
journals," helps, but doesn't clearly equate these mechanisms as the DH 
equivalent of peer-review.  They also put the burden on the job candidate to 
negotiate the conditions of their own professional review while interviewing 
for the position.  Not only would I have not known enough to manage that 
when I interviewed for my first jobs, that seems, to me at least, a lot to ask. 




Ben Miller, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer in Technical Writing and Digital Humanities
Affiliate Faculty, Quantitative Theory and Methods
Emory University

Callaway N212A // (404) 251-1354
b.j.miller@emory.edu // bjmiller@mit.edu // @intransitive

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