Guess what? I’m going to Edmonton for the weekend! I’m absolutely thrilled, let me tell you why.
In addition to being able to attend the launch of a new book of essays on feminism in the liberal arts, I’ll also be going to another celebration. At the end of this week the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory will have its official launch. I first became involved with the project as a bleary midst-of-dissertation-writing-isolated-library-carrell-dwelling PhD candidate. In one of our meetings my supervisor mentioned that she was going to Edmonton for a colloquium on collaboration. Due perhaps in part to my aforementioned solitary existence my interest was immediately piqued (Oh! Other people!) Of course it helped that I was in the midst of a collaboration project myself, but ultimately I was intrigued by the description of the gathering: there were going to be about two dozen academics in a room together talking about bit ideas and thinking about modes of collaboration in our often solitary profession!
Long story short I asked my supervisor if she would take me with her. I think it was the gutsiest thing I’d done in my academic career to that point. She did (thanks!) and that’s where it all began for me, ‘it’ being my apprenticeship in feminist networking and collaboration.
The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory is a project predicated on–you guessed it–collaboration. It describes itself thusly:
The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory / Le Collaboratoire scientifique des écrits du Canada is an online project designed to enable unprecedented avenues for studying the words that most move people in and about Canada.
And indeed if you take a moment to look at the website you’ll find that the collaboratory is just that: collaboration between humanities scholars, digital humanists, and programmers who are all working to create new, innovative, and useful ways for studying Canadian texts. But that’s not all.
The project is directed by Susan Brown, an inspiring scholar and innovator whose feminist mentorship benefits many people. When I arrived in Edmonton for the colloquium in 2008 I had met Susan only once (and actually meeting her had everything to do with the piece I wrote for the collection that is launching this weekend). I was the only graduate student in the group, and I was definitely not a digital humanist. In fact, I’m fairly certain that weekend was the first time I’d ever heard about digital humanities, believe it or not. At the time I was unclear of my role–if any–in the project, but I was extremely motivated by a diverse group of people who were coming together to make Something Fantastic.
Fast-forward three years. Though I’m still not what I’d call a digital humanist I’ve been learning about the extraordinary collaborations that can come from working with folks outside my field. In addition to my research project which I’m carrying out in part through collaboration with CWRC I’ve also been given the opportunity to lead the Emergent Scholars group. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere but let me say it again: the Emergent Scholars group aims to support, connect, and collaborate with graduate students, postdocs, sessionals, and new faculty members who are working with Canadian texts in some capacity. We’re hoping to facilitate a sustainable research and mentorship network amongst peers so, in the spirit of both shameless self-promotion and getting the word out take a look at this exciting new opportunity and let me know if you have any suggestions.
If you don’t work in Canadian material but are still hankering after some new networking and connection-making opportunities why not take the University of Venus Networking Challenge?
I would love to hear about positive connections you’re making.