Monograph Writing Isn’t the Only Scholarly Act: Chronicle Interview on Digital Dissertations

I was interviewed about my digital humanities/digital dissertation work by Stacey Patton at The Chronicle of Higher Education: here’s a link and some snippets on my work:

Amanda Visconti, a doctoral student in her third year at the University of Maryland at College Park, entered the graduate program in English with a background in Web development, information studies, and user testing. She hasn’t yet started on her dissertation—which will be digital—but has experimented with a prototype digital edition of Ulysses, which allows users to read the novel’s first two episodes with explanatory annotations and images that appear when the reader moves his or her mouse over words that might be confusing.

“Digital editions do a lot of things, but I’m interested in making them more participatory, meaning that readers get an interactive, engaged experience instead of a passive reading experience,” Ms. Visconti says. “Producing a traditional, book-style dissertation wouldn’t help me do the scholarly work I need to do. And it wouldn’t present that work to others in a way they could test, use, and benefit from.”

Ms. Visconti, the Maryland student, says she has had to defend her decision to do a nontraditional dissertation to academics who don’t seem to think that digital projects on their own are scholarly enough. Some people assume, she says, that projects like hers are just Web sites where scholarship get published electronically; those professors [i.e. people--I didn't mean to call out professors] don’t seem to understand how digital work can produce new tools for analysis that allow researchers to ask new questions.

“There is the lingering opinion that writing monographs is the only scholarly act,” she says. “Other activities, such as coding, designing, scholarly editing, and experimentation, are [too often treated as] pre- or postcritical [instead of as scholarly activities].”

 

 

I’ll be posting more about my dissertation work here soon.

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