People, Practice, Power: Digital Humanities Outside the Center
Digital humanities, Humanities -- Study and teaching (Higher)
This essay examines the infrastructural causes of digital humanities adjunct invisibility and proposes two remedies: to motivate DH adjunct self-identification by convening DH adjunct-specific prizes and bursaries; and what I call "microbenefactions": small actions by senior faculty that extend opportunities to adjuncts that cost little effort and can give adjuncts access to payment, prize-worthy work opportunities, or other benefits. The unspoken assumption is that DH skills are so much in demand that people with these skills are protected from adjuncting. As I interviewed seven DH adjuncts, their heterogeneous responses to standard questions reminded me that happy families are all alike; unhappy families are unhappy in their own particular ways. Tenure-track employment conditions are alike; adjunct employment conditions vary from state to state and from institution to institution. This essay seeks to situate such heterogeneity in overlapping employment contexts (tenure-track, alternative academic, and temporary) and recommends two practical, simple-to-perform interventions that tenured and tenurable DHers could do to materially improve the prospects and daily working experiences of DH adjuncts. It provides a microbenefaction case study, where small but crucial efforts of a senior scholar facilitated getting an adjunct paid for licensing her course materials after she left the university. When DH infrastructure supplies award incentives for adjuncts to proclaim their work and self-identify, the field will be better able to measure how many DH faculty are working precariously. Such visibility will enable the field to assess the extent to which DH adjuncting is a significant or growing phenomenon.
This essay is forthcoming in People, Practice, Power: Digital Humanities Outside the Center, part of the Debates in Digital Humanities series published by U. Minnesota Press. The final version will be provided open-access on http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu.
Berens, K. I. (2022). Is Digital Humanities Adjuncting Infrastructurally Significant? People, Practice, Power: Digital Humanities Outside the Center. https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/36759