American Quarterly shelf

Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice:
American Studies and the Digital Humanities

Guest Editors
Matthew Delmont, Arizona State University 
Amy Earhart, Texas A&M University 
Susan Garfinkel, Library of Congress / University of Maryland 
Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University 
Angel David Nieves, Hamilton College 
Lauren Tilton, University of Richmond 

In June 1999 American Quarterly published an experimental online issue and concurrent print symposium combining “hypertext and American studies scholarship.” The project, wrote editor Roy Rosenzweig in his introduction, “tried to bring together something rather old-fashioned and stablished—the scholarly journal article—with something new and still emerging—the etworked and digital space of the World Wide Web.” Nearly two decades later, American studies scholars continue to examine the possibilities of digital tools, methods, platforms, and environments as well as the place of an expanded digital humanities in the formation of central hemes and areas of inquiry within contemporary American studies.

The 2018 special issue of American Quarterly, “Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice: American Studies and the Digital Humanities,” will explore digital humanities as a designation, as an associated constellation of technologies and practices, and as a site of convergence for interdisciplinary scholarship. Propelled by the ever-increasing power of computing and grounded in the ongoing development of a networked new media, digital humanities scholarship has coalesced around a shared set of values: that theory can be engaged through practice, that scholarship should be open and accessible to all, and that collaboration is pivotal. At the same time, American studies scholars in the digital humanities have renewed the mportant work of investigating cultural and political formations, excavating power relations, and expanding scholarly inquiry to encompass the everyday as much as the exceptional. With his special issue, we seek to open a new phase of this discussion by overtly exploring the connections between critically engaged forms of American studies and the digital humanities.

We anticipate submissions that navigate this critical engagement through attention to concerns of subject, scope, and method in digital research, as well as the ethical issues surrounding current digital practice: big data, privacy, and appropriation; canon formation, Indigenous archives, and archival silences; complicity through dependence on available funding streams; and collaborative abor across disciplines, roles, and institutions. We are particularly interested in essays and projects that are invested in transnationality, queer/quare theory, critical ethnic studies, settler olonialism and postcolonial theory, WOC/Black feminism, Indigenous studies, and disability studies as they currently help shape the intersections between digital humanities and American studies.

The special issue will include print and digital components and will be organized into two sections. For the first section, essays on theory, method, and practice at the intersection of digital humanities and American studies, using traditional as well as experimental essay formats, will be elcome. The second section, published digitally, will feature digital projects and multimedia essays engaging American studies topics that likewise address this issue’s central concerns. We magine that digital projects and multimedia essays might be of varying lengths and completeness. We encourage submission of well-defined and significant projects large and small, including components of larger projects if the portion is complete. Hybrid presentation formats will also be considered.

Submission of digital projects and multimedia essays should include:

  1. A one-page abstract of the project, discussing how the project critically engages with American studies and digital humanities themes; and 
  2. A link to the project.

Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • How digital tools and methods are imbricated with important categories of analysis in American studies, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability; 
  • Digital tools and methods that transform the study of texts, artifacts, persons, histories, and cultures; 
  • Collaborative scholarship and inter/transdisciplinarity;
  • Epistemological approaches to digital humanities and American studies; 
  • Work, acknowledgment, and precarity in relation to digital humanities and alt-academics; 
  • Digital humanities as public engaged scholarship;
  • Global, postcolonial, and transnational contexts for understanding the Americas, American studies, and/or digital humanities based in emerging forms of scholarship;
  • Possibilities and limitations for digital humanities and American studies in colleges and universities, including pedagogy at the undergraduate and graduate levels;
  • Implicit and/or explicit class structures in digital formations, including digital divides around infrastructure, hardware, software, institutions, communities, locations, and cultures;
  • Scholarly communication as redefined by the environment of digital affordances;
  • Multilingual approaches to digital humanities and American studies; and 
  • (Lack of) diversity in computing-related fields.

Submissions are due August 1, 2017. Authors must address the guest editors and clearly indicate in a cover letter that the submission is intended for the special issue. Also, please indicate which action, either print or digital, the submission is intended for. Accepted submissions will appear in American Quarterly, volume 70, issue 3 (Fall 2018). Information about American Quarterly and submission guidelines can be found at Inquiries related to content or format of submission to this special issue may be directed to

Post date: July 4, 2017

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