Front Lines: Early-Career Scholars Doing Digital History… Virtual AHA Panel Participation

I may not be at AHA 2013, but that won’t stop me from participating on a panel. Below is a series of videos I created for an AHA 2013 panel. “Front Lines: Early-Career Scholars Doing Digital History.” Each video responds to a prompt for discussion. Both Miriam Posner and I are virtually participating, so I will be interested to hear how it ends up working out in meatspace. For those of you who stay up late, you can see me participate in the panel before it actually happens.

For starters it is probably a good idea for each of us to describe what it is we actually do and why we think what we do counts as digital history.

What is relationship between your digital work and your larger body of historical scholarship?

How have digital projects changed your approach to degree requirements, publishing, promotion, (and tenure if relevant)?

Looking back at your education and training (both formal and informal) what are some of the most important experiences, the things that set you up with the skills you need to land the job you have?

What kinds of resources can institutions offer to early-career digital historians (especially institutions that are not home to DH centers)? Where can digital historians find important communities/resources outside of their institutions?

Here is the abstract for the session:

Front Lines: Early-Career Scholars Doing Digital History

Digital history’s growth in popularity has been accompanied by anxiety about how, and whether, these new methods and their practitioners will fit into traditional history departments. At the 2012 meeting of the American Historical Association, discussions of digital history often turned to questions about graduate education, the job market, publication, and promotion. This roundtable aims to approach these questions head-on, relaying experiences and recommendations from early-career scholars navigating these transitions.

Digital historians who elect to enter the professoriate often find themselves faced with a number of questions related to credentialing, tenure, and promotion. Many digital projects, for example, require publication venues other than the bound monograph. What sorts of avenues exist for digital publications? Will tenure committees be prepared to accept and evaluate these nontraditional projects? How many universities can be expected to offer the infrastructure and resources digital historians need?

The AHA’s leaders have suggested that for new Ph.D.s, one solution to the jobs crisis may lie in seeking careers outside of the professoriate — an option that digital historians have been particularly interested in pursuing. How can graduate students gain the experience to prepare themselves for these positions? If new Ph.D.s turn to these alternative academic careers, what can they expect? Can a historian in a nontraditional career expect to pursue a research agenda? What are these alternative jobs, and how well are new Ph.D.s adapting to them?

In this roundtable, a group of digital historians, in jobs both on and off the tenure track, will take up these questions, drawing on their own experience to suggest how we can prepare young digital scholars to enter various job markets, and how we can prepare employers to receive them.

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