Listening at Length

Posted in: digital-humanities  reading  audio 
Crossposted to the Scholars' Lab blog.

I posted this summer about how I’ve been doing more DH listening–podcasts, lectures, workshop recordings–as a way of keeping up with the field in the cracks of the day. In that post I started a running list of things I’ve been checking out, and I just added a few DH-relevant audiobooks to that post as their own section. While they’re not as easy to come by free, you can still find a fair number of DH-y audiobooks included as part of subscriptions to other services or provided by your local library.

I’ve just finished three audiobooks and started a fourth:

All very doable in this format, and all related in some way to the work that I do.

Interestingly, even though each of these texts comes from a very different domain, they all share a common concern with systems and the ways individuals engage with them. Vaidhyanathan writes at great length about the ways Facebook sets up dialogic structures that are antithetical to democratic practices of deliberation and debate. McMillan Cottom’s work concerns the ways in which the conditions of credential creep in the labor market create an environment ripe for exploitation by for-profit colleges and leave students paying the price. Jennings describes mindfulness practices as a means for refocusing classroom practices towards attention, wellbeing, and emotional work, both a pedagogical and individual response to difficult professional circumstances. And Bogost’s book asks us to consider the creative navigation of systems of limitations–and the pleasure it affords–as something we can direct to all parts of life.

I’ve been enjoying this new phase of my listening a lot. Historically I never really got to read long-form texts unless I had a specific research reason for them. I was much more likely to read blogs or articles to keep up with the field. But I have found myself much more likely to take in large works as audio in bits and pieces.

Consider this a plea to the world for more academic audiobooks.