In May of 2016, I taught the last section of my last class as Davidson College’s digital studies postdoc. In this final meeting, students in my “(Histories of) Gender and Technology” class presented projects that ranged from artistic engagements with gender in Kanye West lyrics, to gendered norms in cooking, to quantitative analyses of gendered affect on Twitter. These projects were exciting. They were deeply engaged with historical scholarship on gender and technology, but also carefully used non-traditional forms and methods to make arguments about how we understand that history today. For me (and hopefully, for the students) the class felt like a success.
Almost exactly two years before this class meeting, I was waiting anxiously in my office to take a call with Davidson’s Dean of the Faculty formally offering me the college’s new postdoc in digital studies. I’m trained as an Atlantic historian, and while I’d been working with maps, networks and historical statistics for a few years, 2014-me still felt like a covert digital humanist. My own work arrived in the digital humanities via cliometrics, quantitative history and an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, the home of “the new social history.” These methods used …read more