As another year’s #DayofDH draws to a close, I am reminded of my first #DayofDH four or five years ago. I was a new assistant professor at Loyola and I still remember how fervently I documented the projects that my students and I were working on throughout the day. Thursdays tended to be my day for weekly meetings, so there was much to capture.
Fast forward and now I’m the Director of Loyola’s Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities. While we have a range of wonderful projects in the Center, what got me out of bed (16 hours ago – it’s been a very long day) this and every morning are the people I get to work with. Every day brings me into contact with bright and generous students, staff, and faculty doing fascinating work across the university. Just today I had lunch with a former undergraduate whose work on a digital project led him to a degree in Digital Librarianship, talked to an incoming graduate students for our MA program about her hopes and dreams, reflected with a colleague on the Center’s talk last night by Marisa Parham, and had a current student share with me the game he’s been working on all semester. For me, DH is all about these interactions.
By way of closing out this day, I want to share an excerpt from a nomination for Loyola’s Ignatian Spirit Award / Staff of the Year Award my colleague and I submitted for the four fantastic undergraduate and graduate fellows who staff our DH Center. Too often these recommendation letters remain confidential, hiding from those we want to celebrate and the broader world how blessed we feel to be able to work with them. But let me share it here:
Each of our Fellows brings a different skill-set to the team. Francis, a MA student in Sociology, is a diligent communicator who thought up and planned a 10th Anniversary of the Nintendo Wii event as a way to discuss the past and future of game studies. Maria, a MA student in Digital Humanities, has taken on a leadership role in training new Fellows, other students, and even faculty members on OCR software, and has written numerous stories for our website. Ezgi, our first undergraduate Fellow, consistently contributes ideas of how our research center can support the work of undergraduates. Her eye to detail and level of enthusiasm is unmatched. Neha, a MA student in Computer Science, works swiftly and efficiently in a number of programming languages, and has begun an initiative to bring a chapter of the national organization, Girls Who Code, to Loyola. Together, the Fellows are a model of interdisciplinary collaboration. For instance, when Neha brought the idea of starting a Loyola division of Girls Who Code, Maria immediately researched and located a Plan20/20 grant we might apply to to support the initiative, Ezgi outlined valuable insights and logistical considerations for how to effectively run student clubs, Francis drew up a model of publicizing the program, and they all agreed to collaborate on drafting the grant.
It is difficult to keep these statements brief, because this only scratches the surface of the innovative and deeply passionate work that these students have done this year. Although they keep the Center up and running, this type of work is not merely administrative; it is care work. It is work that truly responds to and values their community, the University, and its mission. They represent the best of Loyola.
See you next #DayofDH!
-Kyle Roberts, Director of Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, Associate Professor, History