[Humanist] 24.465 jobs: at Ryerson; PhD studentship in New Zealand

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Nov 5 07:19:09 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 465.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Peter Stokes <peter.stokes at kcl.ac.uk>                     (84)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.460 job at Ryerson

  [2]   From:    "O'Donnell, Dan" <daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca>              (128)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.460 job at Ryerson

  [3]   From:    Sydney Shep <Sydney.Shep at vuw.ac.nz>                       (15)
        Subject: New Zealand PhD Scholarship

        Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2010 11:12:45 +0000
        From: Peter Stokes <peter.stokes at kcl.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.460 job at Ryerson
        In-Reply-To: <20101104070509.E923699909 at woodward.joyent.us>

A few thoughts regarding the profile at Ryerson.

First, the discussion seems to me to highlight one thing I recall Melissa Terras warning against in her DH plenary. I know there are people who started off in English Literature but have since gone down the DH route and stopped publishing in their 'core' discipline, so now they can barely make any claim to work in literary studies. As I believe Melissa reminded us, though, this is very dangerous: we must keep in touch with our 'core' disciplines, not least because we become increasingly marginalised without them.

Perhaps this is changing, but as far as I know there are still very few departments or even posts in 'pure' DH (if there is such a thing): instead the best we can usually hope for is a post in English, History, Linguistics or whatever which allows DH work. Again I may be wrong, but my understanding is that the basic role of junior faculty is to teach core modules. This may be a problem with the system, but personally I find it hard to blame the Dept. of English for requiring the ability to teach English lit. We might argue that these disciplinary boundaries are no longer valid, but at the end of the day somebody needs to teach the courses in Rhetoric or whatever, and for a junior faculty appointment I suspect anything beyond that is a bonus. 

It has also struck me repeatedly that the skills and experience that come with DH (including interdisciplinarity) are ideal for fixed-term research projects and post-doc positions, but are often precisely the opposite of what junior faculty positions require: not least a 'safe' person firmly based in a traditional discipline who can be relied on to cover teaching with minimal supervision.

I have no experience on faculty panels, but as someone who went from the 'safety' of English Literature to the double-marginalisation of DH and palaeography it is something I am quite sensitive to. I have made a point of publishing very 'traditional' articles as well as DH ones, but appointment panels still keep telling me that my cv doesn't 'fit' the standard profile of English (or indeed History), and that they want people who have proven experience in delivering basic core teaching: as one interviewer put it, they want a 'safe pair of hands'. Again I find it hard to blame them for this. It may be true that very few people in DH fit such a profile, but I wonder if that is in part because we are not doing enough to stay in touch with the 'traditional' humanities ourselves.


Dr Peter Stokes
Centre for Computing in Humanities
King's College London
Room 210, 2nd Floor
26-29 Drury Lane
London, WC2B 5RL
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 2813
Fax: +44 (0)20 7848 2980

        Date: Thu, 04 Nov 2010 12:57:20 -0600
        From: "O'Donnell, Dan" <daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.460 job at Ryerson
        In-Reply-To: <20101104070509.E923699909 at woodward.joyent.us>

I'm really not following this. First of all, aren't English people a 
dime a dozen in the DH? I know tons of DHers who are literary people, 
often in English. So I don't find the idea that the job would be in 
English to be odd. Of course there are people who aren't in English or 
literary studies who do DH. Just like there are people who aren't in 
linguistics or history or who don't define themselves as "pure" DHers. 
But this job is looking for the ones who are in English and who do do 
literary studies and not those who aren't. A good chunk of the teaching 
at most universities involves fairly general service courses: I spend 
about half my time teaching intro English and lower level courses in 
things that aren't my research speciality; and most of the rest of the 
time teaching things that are "broadly" in my research specialties 
(meaning "Medieval" and "Language", rather than "remediation and digital 
textual editing"). And I have it pretty good compared to others. 
Departments tend not to start with the courses in your research 
specialisation and then wonder if you have any time left over to teach 
the general courses; they start with the general and then see if you can 
squeeze in your specialisation.

So if the job had read that they wanted somebody who did DH across 
multiple fields, that would be a different job. It might exclude 
somebody, for example, who did literary or textual studies in English 
only. But is also unlikely that that job would have come from an English 
department: it is Ryerson's English Department that apparently got the 
line, not the information school or department of Digital Humanities, 
and they've defined the job for what they need rather than what we may 
want. As an Anglo-Saxonist and textual scholar, I often wished that 
universities had advertised their positions for Modernists and theorists 
(or even "Medievalist: especially Chaucer") as "Somebody with interest 
in textual transmission and Old English"; but I figured they were doing 
the hiring and so would match the ads to what they needed.

Finally, nobody should be put off by the warning about subject to 
budgetary approval. My experience is that such warnings are more common 
than not, but also more often than not they are pro forma. Some 
universities require the warning to be inserted into all ads so they can 
cut the position if a financial emergency arises before it is filled. 
Even if they don't require it, the timelines for vacancies are such that 
academic approval to advertise is very often given long before final 
budgetary approval is given  to hire; in fact the two approvals often 
come from different places: a faculty or department might decide they 
are going to use a tenure vacancy for a DH position in English long 
before the university-wide finance committee has actually finalised 
financial approval of the requested positions.

I think Ryerson should be commended for advertising the position. I 
happen to know it is a direction they want to go in, and, from 
experience, I know it can be ridiculously hard to convince people to 
head off in new directions.

Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge

Chair and CEO, Text Encoding Initiative (http://www.tei-c.org/)
Co-Chair, Digital Initiatives Advisory Board, Medieval Academy of America
President-elect (English), Society for Digital Humanities/Société pour l'étude des médias interactifs (http://sdh-semi.org/)
Founding Director (2003-2009), Digital Medievalist Project (http://www.digitalmedievalist.org/)

Vox: +1 403 329-2377
Fax: +1 403 382-7191 (non-confidential)
Home Page: http://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnell/

        Date: Fri, 5 Nov 2010 10:53:46 +1300
        From: Sydney Shep <Sydney.Shep at vuw.ac.nz>
        Subject: New Zealand PhD Scholarship
        In-Reply-To: <20101104070509.E923699909 at woodward.joyent.us>


Want to come to New Zealand? Like to be part of a new, dynamic eResearch team? Victoria University of Wellington is looking for a PhD candidate interested and/or experienced in data visualisation, social network applications, and/or GIS to work on a three-year Marsden Fund / Royal Society of New Zealand project on printing / typographical journals and the nineteenth-century press. Full tuition and a stipend are covered. For more details see http://www.fis.org.nz/BreakOut/vuw/schols.phtml?detail+500377 and contact Sydney.Shep at vuw.ac.nz<mailto:Sydney.Shep at vuw.ac.nz>. Applications are being accepted now.


Dr Sydney J Shep
Senior Lecturer in Print & Book Culture : : The Printer
Wai-te-ata Press : : Te Whare Ta O Wai-te-ata
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600, Wellington, NEW ZEALAND

Email:   sydney.shep at vuw.ac.nz
Phone: +64-4-463-5784  fax: +64-4-463-5446
internet: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/wtapress/

The Print History Project: http://www.nzetc.org/projects/php/
Editor, SHARP News http://www.sharpweb.org http://www.sharpweb.org/
Associate Editor, Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism http://www.dncj.ugent.be/

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