Spencer Keralis (University of North Texas Libraries) has shared the slides and text of his talk to the Rice University Digital Humanities Group, entitled “Disrupting Student Labor in the Digital Humanities Classroom.” Based on Keralis’s forthcoming Disrupting the Digital Humanities chapter, the talk explores the ways in which “[d]igital humanities pedagogy involving students contributing to faculty projects or producing durable work products is particularly vulnerable to abuse and misuse.”
On digital humanities panels at conferences ranging from the Modern Language Association, to the Digital Library Federation Forum, to the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations’ annual conference, and the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries, I’ve been struck again and again by how glibly panelists describe how they incorporate the grunt work of a digital project into a syllabus and have their students do it as part of a class. Under the rubric of “skills building,” these comments are usually met with nods of knowing approval by attendees. If an audience member or a fellow panelist questions the legitimacy of this practice they are piously dismissed both in the room and on social media, a circling of the wagons that [is] reflexive and unreflective.
Keralis draws on problematic examples of crowdsourcing in academia and the arts and highlights UCLA DH’s “A Student Collaborators’ Bill of Rights” in his appeal to faculty, librarians, and administrators to consider ways to make ourselves attentive to and accountable for the ethical use of student labor in digital humanities endeavors.