This Paragraph Was Written Before the World Went to Shit

As it turns out, I wrote the epigraph to my day months ago. I am working on an edited collection with Dorothy Kim, Disrupting the Digital Humanities, a rowdy assemblage that attempts to make space for broader perspectives in the digital humanities.

As we finalized the editing process and wrote a last draft of our introduction, Dorothy asked a series of hard questions that inspired in me the following paragraph, which I wrote in a flurry, and which she revised in a flurry. It ended up as the first paragraph of the book manuscript we just submitted last month under contract to Punctum Books. I woke up this morning thinking about our first paragraph and how much it captures the feelings I have today in the wake of the US election. As much as I look forward to the release of the book, which includes an amazing motley crew of over 25 contributors, I am saddened by the prescience of these words, which feel now like an ending of something even as they also (I hope) still point to the beginning of something else.

. . . . .

Much of this introduction was written before the world went to shit. The chapters here, no matter how recently written, can’t keep at bay a world being actively undone. We find ourselves wondering why and how this work even matters. What has the digital humanities community done collectively for #blacklivesmatter? What place is there for pedagogy in a world where education has been so systematically devalued? How do we rally when so many are complicit? Scholarship can only vaguely hope to keep up. And so these are not really the questions of this volume. But they should be. As a field like digital humanities squabbles, the world around it is laid to waste. Academic turf wars have no place in a world of mass-shootings, fear-mongering, and xenophobia. Demanding fellow scholars do a literature review before speaking their mind has no place in a world of AR-15 assault rifles. When something as basic as going to the bathroom lacks dignity for so many, we have no use for double-blind peer review.

. . . . .

Last night, well before there were hints that Trump would win the election, I tweeted: "No matter what happens tonight, we wake up tomorrow as activists--to rally against Trump and racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic ideology." I still know this is true. But, on a day when many of us had trouble getting out of bed at all, what is our path to activism?