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The Camera is Here!

4humanities officers with camera

From left to right: Noa, Michael, Kristin, and Naomi

A little over a year ago, at the Digital Humanities conference at Stanford, I sat in on a luncheon speech by Dr. Alan Liu from UCSB where he put out a call to the attendees to start local chapters of his new organization, 4Humanities, at their universities. This organization advocates for humanities scholarship and research, garnering support both locally and on a national level. I took his call to heart, and, when I returned to CSUN in the fall, I started a local chapter: 4Humanities@CSUN. Our chapter was also fortunate enough to be sponsored by CSUN’s new Center for the Digital Humanities.

The academic year 2011-2012 proved to be one of planning. We laid the foundation for many of the projects we hope to produce this year. One of the main focuses of our group, a project called the Mini-Documentary Project, stems from the idea that many people do not support the humanities because they simply don’t know what it is or what humanists do. This project involves our chapter buying a high-quality personal documentary camera that we could use to document humanities scholarship. My idea is to make small, 5-7 minute films that show the discovery and research process, as well as the output (a publication or conference talk) of humanities work. I believe this would put the “human” back into the “humanities,” giving a face and personality to a piece of scholarship, thus making it more accessible and interesting for someone who is not familiar with scholarly work. These documentaries would include interviews with the scholar(s), dialogue or debate, places and the process of research, and the reception of a work or project. They not only could be circulated throughout the 4Humanities and DH communities on their blogs and websites, but also on Youtube and other non-scholarly forums to reach a wider audience.

My officers and I spent months during last academic year thinking up ways to get funding for the camera. At first we thought of fundraising activities, but seeing as the camera and accessories would total $2300, we decided that might take a while. Instead, over the course of the year, we were very fortunate to receive private donations from Dr. Alan Liu and Oliver Pinchot, as well as some funding from Associated Students at CSUN. Michael Green (the current acting president) and I each donated as well, and after quite a bit of process, the camera is finally here!! I am thrilled my idea has become a reality, and I cannot wait to see the projects that come from this purchase. We already have three planned recordings, so hopefully we will see some output in the next few months.

A great deal of thanks belongs to Dr. Alan Liu, Oliver Pinchot, and Michael Green for facilitating and supporting this process.

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Current Projects

1.Undergraduate Digital Showcase/ First-Year Feature Project

The CSUN College of Humanities offers several courses that facilitate the creation of digital projects by students, including the different levels of freshman writing that comprise the new Stretch curriculum. In order to provide public recognition for the exemplary work being done by CSUN students, the Center for the Digital Humanities is creating an “Undergraduate Digital Showcase” for the best digital projects by undergraduate students. The program is being undertaken as part of the Humanities Undergraduate Outreach Project of the 4Humanities initiative, a multi-institution consortium that advocates for the Humanities.
The Undergraduate Digital Showcase will display five of the best student projects on the Center for the Digital Humanities web site, and the showcase may also be duplicated on the 4Humanities site. A “First-Year Feature” subcategory will highlight the most outstanding digital project by a first-year student on a subject in the Humanities or a closely related field. All formats are accepted, and projects can either be individually or collaboratively authored. Projects must be nominated by a faculty member.

Link: http://www.csun.edu/digitalhumanities/2012/student-project-showcase/

2. CSUN Mini-Documentary Backpack Project

This project facilitates the making of short, mini-documentaries that promote humanities scholarship by giving a narrative voice to the research process. These mini-films will depict the process of doing humanities research through interviews with students and scholars as they work on their scholarly activities. In addition to interviews, the films will show methods, and may include debate and dialogue with other students and/or scholars. Each film will cover one research project. In essence, these documentaries would bring the “human” back to humanities work by showing real people engaging in scholarly activities. These short films could be posted on the 4Humanties website, CSUN’s Center for the Digital Humanities website, and elsewhere.

Basic Guidelines:
o The film must be about 5 minutes long (no more than 7 minutes).*
o The film must explore the process of scholarly “discovery” or “invention.”
o The film must show the research process.
o If the project is placed within the public sphere (through a conference, publication, reading, presentation, etc) within the time-frame of the documentary, the film will also depict this process.

The idea is to produce short, easy-to-watch films that are accessible to students and the larger public, and that can thus promote the value inherent in humanities research activities to as large an audience as possible. Making these activities more visible and less mysterious will both encourage students to engage in the same scholarly activities as depicted in the films, and promote to the public the value of these activities for society in general. At CSUN (or whatever future schools also implement this project), these documentary films will have a further benefit of showcasing the quality research taking place at a non-research-intensive university and helping to justify this work to administrators and the general public.




Harry Potter



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Upcoming Events

Elections for 2012-2013 School Year
Friday, May 4th
JR 319

1 Comment

Welcome to the 4Humanities@CSUN blog!

Some topics to think about:

  • Recruitment ideas–I’m in favor of contacting professors that each of us feel comfortable with, and asking them if they’d be willing to let us make a short announcement to their class(es) during the first two weeks of the semester. Do you guys like this idea?
  • First Officer Meeting–we need to set up a time to meet to go over business items, fundraising ideas, budget costs, etc. Thursdays work well for me this semester. How does Thurs., Jan 26th at 4:00 sound for everybody?
  • First round-table– We’ve been invited by Dr. Liu and the UCSB chapter to join them via Skype during their first meeting of their quarter. It is a discussion-based meeting, so I thought this would work well for our first round-table discussion. It is on Feb. 2nd from 5-7pm. I can reserve an appropriate room if this is something we want to do. We should figure this out ASAP so that we can use this as our first event during recruitment.

That’s all for now!