Refashioning. That’s the thread that ties together the six blog posts that I have listed below. Four of these posts are about my own intellectual process, while the other two seem to be about reviews of critical digital humanities articles. However, these review entries are also about my own intellectual refashioning, a process which has been long and dialectical (using this term sounds too on the nose…but I believe it’s accurate).
The first and third entries are squarely about me: in the first post, I perform a kind of archeology of my intellectual formation and my current preoccupations, while the third selection is a rather awkward attempt to push myself in the direction I want to go. The fifth entry shows how I land on a research topic that is exciting when I am not pushing myself in any particular way; it shows how if I just let things happen, the right kinds of questions and ideas will present themselves. The last entry is about the ups and downs of the research process, specifically how I had to abandon an idea that seemed extremely exciting for an idea that is intellectually interesting but somewhat inert (inert because it was a “continuation” of a dissertation that I was interested in but had no love for). The two review entries are about me because they exemplify moments in which I quite embraced digital humanities (Indexes) and another in which I questioned not the relevance of digital humanities but not its relevance for me (Computational).
The refashioning thread is clearly evident in Beyond Now and Genealogies. In the former, I finally grasped something that I hadn’t until then: even when I thought I had been pursuing topics that were unique or new, I was opting for topics that were safe or respectable. This is a cliché…but clichés are clichés because they’re true… While in Beyond Now I was grasping at straws (scraping Twitter data), there’s an energy here, a declaration of independence that was…just fun. In Genealogies, that independence sparked into a project that was truly unique: intellectually interesting but that also filled me with wonder; the project also leaned into what I think, for me, is the best digital humanities approach: networks. Looking at these two entries, then, as the “center” of my intellectual “task” over the last several months makes plain to me how my sense of adventure and risk shifts to safety and comfort and back again depending on the moment. There is no way to “resolve” this “dialectic.” I think the trick is to find a way to use it, to paraphrase Kant, purposely unpurposefully. Put another way, I can’t synthesize the two; I have to learn to iteratively go back and forth and trust that I will develop new knowledge that can contribute something meaningful to the world.
So, basically, I’ve ended up…in another cliché really, this time from RuPaul’s Drag Race: learn to be me and bring that into all of the challenges. (Or, be yourself and that will be enough.) So, kind of trite…but also, kind of true.