• Sharing Authority in Collaborative Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Library Workers’ Perspectives

    Alix Keener, Chelcie Rowell (see profile)
    Library & Information Science
    Digital humanities
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Digital pedagogy
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    Often collaborators come together to teach digital humanities (DH) in the hope of modeling for students what the humanities can be — generous, collaborative, publicly engaged. At times, though, collaborative DH pedagogy in fact reproduces power structures inherent in academic institutions, placing faculty, students, and staff in the same strict caste-based roles. Though the scholarly and professional conversation around digital humanities and libraries increasingly recognizes library workers as collaborators rather than service providers (Muñoz), library workers’ lived experiences do not always reflect these shared values (Risam and Edwards). On the contrary, it’s frustratingly common for library workers to report being condescended to or feeling disrespected when collaborating with disciplinary faculty. At times, the DH field even holds library workers at fault for failing to become full-fledged collaborators due to their “timidity” (Vandegrift and Varner) or the “ingraining of an organizational service mentality” (Nowviskie 58). But this explanation is insufficient; there are complex power dynamics at play when library workers and disciplinary faculty engage in collaborative teaching. As Roxanne Shirazi suggests, building upon Arlie Russel Hochschild’s work in The Managed Heart, “perhaps the problem is not service itself, but exploitation” (90). Hochschild emphasizes that exploitation takes place when recompense (“money, authority, status, honor, well-being”) is inequitably distributed among laborers (12). For library workers, including ourselves, exploitation can look like a lack of respect or disregard for our time and energy. One step toward modeling expansive and inclusive humanities practice requires understanding how library workers experience collaborative DH pedagogy — including, sometimes, as exploitation — so that all partners are accountable for creating mutually rewarding collaborative teaching and learning experiences.
    This work is a pre-print version of a book chapter to be published in Debates in Digital Humanities Pedagogy, edited by Brian Croxall and Diane Jakacki, forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press. This draft has undergone internal peer review by the editors and other contributors to the volume. Next it will undergo review by external readers. We plan to deposit anonymized interview transcripts in an open data repository and cite the DOI in the final published version.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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