From 2012-2015, I had the exciting opportunity to represent Duke University as a Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) Scholar. The HASTAC community is an online consortium of scholars from across the United States working in the Digital Scholarship. Our online community is a space to exchange ideas related to the digital humanities and to discuss new methodologies for digitally-based research and pedagogy. Key topics of discussion have included the pros and cons of using Twitter in the classroom to facilitate group discussion; the challenges teachers face in making students’ digital scholarship open to the public; and the creation of online, collaborative projects that replace traditional research papers as class assignments. HASTAC scholars communicate through a myriad of online mediums including: blog posts, online symposiums, webinars, and Google+ hangouts.
Collaboration and experimentation are key words that describe the atmosphere of the HASTAC community. During my tenure as a HASTAC scholar, I explored the sensory experiences of Antebellum food markets in this blog post: “Introduction: Atlantic Foodways and the Noise of Antebellum Food Markets.”
I was involved in two groups within the HASTAC community: the Duke PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge and Digital History. In the spring of 2013, I took part in Digital History: A Two Part Series broken into “Digital Tools for the Historian” and “Pedagogy, Public History & the Professional Environment.” I wrote a blog post for week six of this series, “Digitizing Oral Histories,” where I drew from my experiences at the Southern Foodways Alliance to discuss innovative ways in which scholars are sharing history and culture online. My blog post, “Amplifying Voices Through Social Media: My Experiences With Oral Histories and Social Media Platforms” is now available on the HASTAC website.
I have also blogged about experiments I conducted in the classroom with digital tools including Google Drive and Twitter. You can find my blog post, “Heeding the Call: Experimenting with Google Drive and Twitter in the Classroom” on the HASTAC website.
As an active member of the Digital History group on HASTAC, I acted as the commentator on our first Spring Spotlight Series, “The Deconstruction/Reconstruction of the Community and Institution Collaborative Model.” This online event was an opportunity for me to write about the future of digital archives and the institutions and communities who are a part of making their own historical record.
In April 2013, I presented a lightening talk on digital technology in the classroom at the 2013 HASTAC Conference, The Storm of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes. The larger panel explored innovations in digital knowledge that could be applied in the classroom to enhance the overall learning environment and inspire creative analytical practices. The panel was called “Digital Pedagogy: Dialectical and Analogical Praxis” and included a series of four lighting sessions addressing topics relating to “gamification” projects to create alternative learning environments, badge programs to incentivise learning, and the incorporation of Twitter and Google Drive to foster collaborate note taking in the classroom.
During the fall of 2013, I was a contributing editor to The American Yawp open source American history textbook project. Ben Wright, a fellow HASTAC scholar and member of the Digital History group on the HASTAC website, introduced me to the project. I wrote a section for the textbook on the relationship of the Old South with the greater Caribbean World, drawing upon my research experience and knowledge of both Southern and Caribbean history.
In April of 2014, I traveled to Peru to present at and attend the 2014 HASTAC Conference, Hemispheric Pathways: Critical Makers in International Networks. At this conference I gave a paper titled, “Grassroots Communities: Fostering Face-to-Face Communication in the Digital Age,” which discussed the critical role of in-person engagement in the Digital Humanities.
My experiences as a HASTAC scholar continue to inform my work in the public sphere and help to improve the Smithsonian Food History Team’s digital engagement with the public.