I was excited by the two versions of the Digital Humanities Manifesto because what they espouse is so familiar. Most of what the authors value about Digital Humanities are things my two fields of interest—composition and fan studies—have been doing for years.
To begin with composition, Schnapp et al. proclaim, “Process is the new god; not product” (1.0, par. 13). “Process not product” is a mantra often heard among comp theorists, although it’s not exactly a new god; Donald Murray published his seminal article “Teaching Writing as a Process, Not a Product” in 1972. For us, “process not product” means we should value the steps our students take in producing writing, not only the finished papers they turn in for a grade. We use teaching methods such as brainstorming, rough drafts, peer review, and workshopping to pay attention to our students’ writing processes. I hadn’t thought of this key concept as part of Digital Humanities, however, and I look forward to applying this familiar composition stand-by to digital work.
My primary research interest connects even more directly to DH than does comp. “Fan studies” refers to the analysis of fans (of television shows, movies, books, etc.) and the artifacts they create and produce related to their interests: fan fiction, art, crafting, videos, music, and more. In particular, I research the intersection of digital rhetoric and fan studies, performing rhetorical analysis on fan products and theorizing/practicing how to use this form of extracurricular composition in the classroom. The Digital Humanities Manifesto is clearly a fan’s ally: “Copyright and IP standards must, accordingly, be freed from the stranglehold of Capital. Pirate and pervert Disney materials on such a massive scale that Disney will have to sue… your entire neighborhood, school, or country. Practice digital anarchy by creatively undermining copyright and mashing up media” (1.0, par. 8; also 2.0, par. 13). Fans have been “pirating and perverting” canon texts from the first print fanzines publishing Captain Kirk/Mr. Spock “slash” romance fiction in the 1960s. “Furry” artists display their “cease and desist” letters from Disney with pride, and I myself sell handmade Pokémon plushies on Etsy—without a license of course. Apparently, we’ve been taking “strong (guerrilla) action” all along (2.0, par. 17). (For more on fan work’s relationship with copyright, see the Organization for Transformative Works.)
Lastly, curation—for me at least—blends the two fields. I loved version 2.0’s treatment of “the scholar as curator and the curator as scholar” (par. 45). I pride myself on my fan curations, both physically and digitally. And often, these two areas cross, as in my blog The Drifarmy which displays my Pokémon collection and in my wiki The Sonic Wings Wiki which curates information (as well as my physical collection) on an obscure video game series. Such fan-produced texts are precisely what I most love to study rhetorically, yet I believe they also have a place in pedagogy. Schnapp et al. write, “Curation means making arguments through objects as well as words, images, and sounds” (2.0, par. 45, emphasis original). I believe that anything—including an object—can be an argument, and my current EN 102 assignment has my students performing rhetorical analysis of objects—specifically items related to Alabama football to bring in a hint of the fannish.
These connections between Digital Humanities and my areas of interest—both academic and extracurricular—led to my enthusiasm for the Digital Humanities Manifesto, and I look forward to seeing how such familiar concepts play out throughout the semester.