“It’s an exciting time for online infrastructure building,” writes Wai Chee Dimock, in the current issue of PMLA, about the changing nature of scholarship in the digital age. In her editor’s note, Dimock identifies an experimental ethos in the humanities, characterized most by new public forums for humanities research and writing. As co-editor of TECHStyle, that “experimental ethos” resonated strongly. With the rise of open-access journals and the increasing imperative for emerging scholars to establish their reputations through social media and online publishing, the time is indeed ripe for reflecting on the kinds of infrastructures we can build online.
In a time characterized by the changing role of technology in teaching and research, as well as the precarity of academic labor and the undermining of humanistic values, experiments in public scholarship have the opportunity to enervate our research and teaching, and to extend the reach of our critiques, celebrations, insights, and analyses to a broader audience. Dimock identifies this experimental ethos in new online ventures like Public Books. The online magazine, she writes, “aims to host broad-based, experimental work: the work of hybrid scholars, still bookish but not giving up on the world, who can code-switch between environments and bring what is generative or imperative in one to bear on the other” (245). The School of Literature, Media, and Communication is an experimental department, and the Writing and Communication Program encourages experiments in pedagogy. In some ways, TECHStyle is an experiment in research, pedagogy scholarship, and digital humanities.
What kind of infrastructure is TECHStyle, and what kind of intellectual work might it enable? The Brittain Fellowship brings together scholars from English, Film and Media Studies, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, Technical Communication, and Rhetoric and Composition, among other fields. We hope that this infrastructure facilitates the kinds of cross-disciplinary conversations that take place in our classrooms and at the thresholds of our office doors.
Last year, Brittain fellows produced excellent essays on pedagogy. This year, we hope to emphasize the commitment to “research” noted in our mission statement. By hosting short essays from works in progress––not to mention podcasts, comics, and whatever multimodal work you’d like to throw our way––we hope that TECHStyle can be part of an infrastructure that supports fellows’ research as much as their experiments in the classroom. We invite contributions of research-in-progress, case studies, interviews, review essays, and forays into new areas of interest. Here’s to new experiments.
Dimock, Wai Chee. “Experimental Humanities.” PMLA vol. 132, no. 2, Mar. 2017, 241-49.