I spent most of 2015 writing, so I thought I’d offer a quick recap.
My year began at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, presenting on a panel about the future of digital scholarship. My talk turned into a blog post, which turned into an abstract, which turned into a revised article, which turned into a final essay that will appear later this year in Debates in Digital Humanities 2016. “Digital History’s Perpetual Future Tense” starts with an observation: why do so few digital history projects make explicit arguments? The essay attributes digital history’s lack of academic arguments to the field’s particular genealogy, most notably its early and ongoing overlaps with public history. In practice, digital history is synonymous with digital public history. The article ends with a call for historians interested in argument and interpretation to make those features a stronger part of their digital work.
I also co-authored an article with Lincoln Mullen for Digital Humanities Quarterly: “Jane, John…Leslie? A Historical Method for Algorithmic Gender Detection.” The article first describes the gender package for R, which uses historical datasets to more accurately infer gender from first names. It then uses the package to study gatekeeping in the historical profession by uncovering gender disparity in the American Historical Review. Although the number of reviews of female-authored books has steadily climbed in the AHR, the journal still prints close to twice as many reviews of male authors as female authors.
I served as an anonymous reviewer for several journals and an edited volume over the course of 2015, and also wrote a non-anonymous review of The Programming Historian for the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy in December. It was fun to get the chance to review what has become a foundational resource for skill-building in the digital humanities, even if it did highlight the field’s ongoing struggles over barriers and exclusions.
Oh yeah, I also finished writing my dissertation in 2015. It was, by far, the most rewarding experience of my academic career. Plus, there was funfetti cake.