Brenda’s Day in the Life of Digital Humanities

It is a lovely day in Urbana and I walk into the university for a series of meetings. Although my transition from the University of Illinois to Acadia University has been in the works for a while, I am required to be physically on campus at Illinois during various points this academic year. There are several commitments that require my attention even though most of my activities are winding down with my departure from Illinois. Two of the important individuals with whom I meet with today are my contractor (who is completing work on the house) and my real estate agent (who is listing the house in a couple of weeks) to okay the last of the renovations.

Then, I am off to campus. I live in an area immediately to the east of U of I (what is collectively known as the faculty ghetto given the high number of faculty within the area). During the twenty minute walk into campus, I listen to the local NPR station and the discussion of the upcoming cessation of the station to employ any individual to do local weather. Odd but true (all the result of major budget cuts to Illinois).

Putting out fires?

Once I arrive on campus, I deal with various overnight emails (from students, colleagues, and other assorted individuals), none of which require immediate attention. This morning I have a meeting with a colleague Margery to discuss the reviews I received the day before of a paper submitted two months previously.

I realized when talking with colleagues about scholarship and the writing/review/resubmitting process, many elements come into play about research and writing. On the one hand, academics write to get their research public. Yet, on the other hand, getting one’s research into the public domain is a challenge. Thus, my appreciation for programs like IDEALS at Illinois and the open access movement (a nod to former advisor JW and his Public Knowledge Project)

Let the Meetings Begin

My role as faculty at the University of Illinois is quickly coming to a close. I still have research commitments in Illinois to be completed as I as I make the transition back to Canada and the commitments of the Canada Research Chair. The CRC is a wonderful opportunity but it requires that I transfer my research responsibilities to willing colleagues who will serve as PI’s while I take a consultant role (because the grants are U.S. based which limits any transferring of funds). So, the two meetings are with individuals on campus to ensure that there is a smooth transition.

And then there is a meeting with an Associate Provost to talk about my transition from Illinois to Acadia. An enjoyable discussion of what I love about Illinois, what I will miss about Illinois, and my own thoughts about how to deal with the HUGE deficit its facing ($483 million not transferred from the State to the University; see huge impacts and cuts).

Camping Out

The three meetings are done. I drive up to Chicago and O’Hare airport to then travel to East Lansing, MI and MSU for the Great Lakes THAT Camp. Once checked in with United, I go to the lounge to catch up on all things urgent. At the top of my list, copy edits to a paper and reading student papers for a meeting and presentation on Friday.

Arrived in Lansing at 610pm, obtained rental car, drove to colleagues place, and went out for dinner.

Before bed, tied up loose ends for Friday (frantic copy edits, reading student papers, conversing with individuals concerning new office space at Acadia and for the yet-unnamed research centre). Only read 1 chapter of Heileman & Halperin’s Game Change.


Post Script: I recall the Day of DH as being a long, meeting-filled day that also included travel. This entry is being written after my return to Canada and after having attended the Great Lakes THAT Camp.  On my Day of DH I traveled 823 miles, received 127 emails, read 3 student papers, downloaded 4 paper reviews, read the Huffington Post and Politico on line, and used the Maps App on my Iphone more that I care to admit.