What I'm Reading - Winter 24

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

My family moved house this winter, so I spent countless hours packing, unpacking, setting up, and driving. Audiobooks were a great companion for all that work. Here are the four relevant to DH and teaching that I got through in the past several weeks.

  • Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success by Christopher Emdin. I adored this text that was recommended to me by Seanna Viechweg, one of our brilliant Praxis students this year. In it, Emdin advocates for bringing the authentic, lived experience of teachers and students into the classroom, especially when their identities depart from what might be considered academically acceptable. Emdin writes explicitly from his experiences teaching in urban classrooms, where he saw the conflict between teacherly norms that value whiteness and devalue disruptive, lived, or “ratchet” behaviors. The ratchetdemic bridges these divides by making the ratchet a tool of political and pedagogical protest.
  • Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching by Jarvis R. Givens. I went straight from Ratchetdemic to Fugitive Pedagogy, in part because some of the reviews for Emdin’s work put his work in dialogue with Woodson. Fugitive Pedagogy is both a history of Woodson’s innovative leadership in Black education as well as the articulation of a concept that Givens sees as central to that work. Fugitive pedagogy as a pedagogical theory refers to the ways in which Black education has always seen teaching and learning as acts of rebellion, from literacy as a path to freedom for emancipated peoples to the careful ways in which Black teachers navigated the hostile pressure from white administrators while attempting to teach in the Jim Crow era.
  • Feed by M.T. Anderson. I’ve long been kicking around the idea of an introductory literature course on the novel in the age of the Internet. Feed was recommended to me by my wife, who did her dissertation on Victorian teen culture and knows more about young-adult fiction than I will ever forget. Feed is a dystopian text where a majority of American citizens have an internet feed implanted in their brains that gives a steady stream of chat, marketing, and statistical data. My spouse and I talked a lot about how much different this text must have read in 2002, when it came out, as opposed to the present day.
  • The Professor is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD into a Job by Karen Kelsky. I’ve been familiar with Kelsky’s work for some time, more by reputation than for any specifics. In a recent conversation about professional development, a student referenced The Professor is In in such a way that made me feel I couldn’t avoid reading it any longer. The book outlines an extremely detailed path through the academic job market, in all of its toxic, challenging, and unfair shapes. While I might disagree with some of the specific recommendations, the overall message of the book–that advisors have an ethical obligation to prepare students for what comes after the PhD–is an important one. And I think it’s vital reading for anyone in a position to advise students, if for no other reason to be literate in the conversation.