Adventures in Digital Humanities

Adventures in Digital Humanities

-DH Diary 2/8/15-

I’m excited about the digital humanities Spring 2015 semester. The first class went well.  I appreciated Amanda (@amandabee) mentioning that she is a mother! Luke (@lwaltzer ) “twitter-friended” me after our first class. I saw on his twitter feed that he’s into sports, and my son Ali Marpet is up for the NFL draft this spring. It is going to be an interesting ride.

After the first class a few of us stayed and chatted. Some shared thoughts about the upcoming selection of projects. Some expressed anxiety over the competitive nature of voting. Privately we all did a pretty good job encouraging each other.

This is my final semester at CUNY. I came to the Graduate Center to put some theory to my lived experience. I also harbor a desire to do more writing and lecturing. I am hoping my academic experiences will boost my opportunities.

I’ve been active for twenty plus years as an artist and activist. My forays have MOM_Con_2015included organizing academic conferences on the subject of motherhood for past 9 years. But, most exciting, I just completed a 29-month experiment with the Museum of Motherhood in a donated space on the UES of Manhattan. This was an incredible opportunity. We featured exhibit tours and community activities. People from all over the world visited. Up to 60 interns a semester engaged in museum projects, and I taught “Intro To Mother Studies” classes to high school, undergraduate and grad students.

The museum mandate included exploring topics including how women (and men) perform parenting. Many struggle with the same issues that previous generations have wrestled with. Some of those struggles are: undervaluing the role of caregiving, feelings of isolation, and a general lack of economic, and social support, etc. Contemporary issues include the emerging field of medicine that is relying on technological advances for procreation. The general perspective in Mother Studies promotes a more comprehensive understanding of these ethical and biological realities. I see Mother Studies as a wide-open new field of investigation in the academy, and that is what my thesis argues for.

This project, like all “out of the box” projects, can be a tough sell. Even with hundreds of courses on the subject being taught each year at universities around the North America. New ideas often meet with bureaucratic resistance. Lynn Kuechle (@MomScholar) and I petitioned Minnesota State U., Mankato in 2007-2009, to introduce a graduate degree in Mother Studies, but it got reduced to online classes, which Jocelyn Fenton Stitt (@JocStitt) taught. Despite roadblocks I have watched my colleague’s classes explode in popularity in recent years.

I really hope I can convince my classmates that Mapping Mother Studies would be a good project to work on. DH could help legitimize this new area of study, facilitate dissemination of coursework, offer support through online classes, and provide a collaborative environment for teachers and students interested in studying this subject. It could also be a banner project for GC, CUNY since there is nothing else like it.

Luke suggested this semester would be like a reality show. Maybe we should go live to YouTube each class? I’m up for it!

I posted a proposal for my project on the class blog here. [CLICK]
Below are some examples of what Mother Studies is not, but which are interesting articles or schools non-the-less.

Boise State: http://sspa.boisestate.edu/familystudies/academics/
Penn State: http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/human-development-and-family-studies-bachelors/overview
Townson U: http://www.towson.edu/fmst/careers.asp
A Degree In Mother Studies: Huff Po: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daphne-wayans/getting-your-masters-degr_b_4597468.html
A Master’s Degree in Mother Studies: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art55646.asp
Home Economics: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/01/home-economics-major_n_5906476.html

In terms of website content, I continue to be inspired by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives [CLICK] because of its ability to archive and communicate content. See also their list of courses: http://meetings.cshl.edu/courses.html

#DHpraxis14 #MotherStudies

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