I had to do a little Internet research but it turns out that Fall 2014 was my sixth iteration of Visual Research Methods, taught once a year at CGU since 2010. The course changes as do I, as does the Internet, academia, and the visual. The books I teach have been swapped, versioned, and traded-out as I add new themes: Digital Humanities came in in 2012, Digital Storytelling became the Lambert version a bit after that. The assignments stay the same although their tenor seems linked to each discrete class (see below): a video essay, documentary/ethnographic film, a digital story and academic blog. While I’ve been blogging since 2007, with some review it seems I haven’t blogged about the class every year, although many of the courses are covered (follow links please). But I have continued to learn and share from this class, one that I have always insisted is much more a meta-investigation of academia, the humanities, professionalization, disciplines and their disciplining, academic labor, writing, and the audience and function of our work as it is about learning some “visual methods.” However, the most obvious and lasting change across the past five years are as dynamic as is the Internet, and these come in two parts:
- humanities graduate students’ exponential growth in their familiarity with and use of digital media linked to web 2.0’s ever easier affordances (only in the beginning did we need a TA and labs for the course to give both access to equipment and tutorials; that’s all easily available now)
- the exponential decline in the strength of the academic labor market, demanding alt-ac considerations for all and thus the use of said methods not just as a thought or meta-experiment but perhaps as a professional necessity
As I consider the course in context of larger shifts in academia, I’d also posit that each year there are more and more kindred efforts being mounted across the humanities (in large part because of the growth of DH, and also perhaps the video essay and/or video) but also because the increasing digitalization of pedagogy, and the academy more generally has made thinking about and with Internet tools a much more common practice than it was only five years ago. This does make me wonder if the course needs a reboot to bring it more squarely into social media becoming something more akin to Miriam Posner’s course on Selfies, Snapchat and Cyberbullies or Adeline Koh’s class on Digital Writing.
Speaking of DH, it turns out I won’t be teaching the class for the next several years, as I helm the Claremont College’s Mellon DH grant and finish out my tenure at Pitzer’s Munroe Center for Social Inquiry. Because of my reduced teaching load, my colleagues and more pointedly administration at Pitzer have asked that the limited classes I offer go to our undergrads, and this only seems fair. It will be interesting to see if the course continues without me; if there is demand; a teacher; momentum.
One final thought. After reviewing the work of this year’s batch (ever a pleasure, every year a gift), I’d have to say that this posse took the class more personally, privately, and creatively than might have been true for previous years. While this reflection occludes those who did produce highly theoretical or political work this year, and those who did deeply personal work in other years, I do wonder if this is a trend that reflects the technological and professional changes I listed above, or rather is some indication of my own inclinations—steering as I do this eclectic bunch each year—my own hand being soft but also firm and ever changing. This year the course, which always has many feminists, queers, and people of color, was almost entirely dominated by students of said persuasions, and that became a powerful set of lenses through which my own pedagogy and the students’ learning and production were processed. Perhaps there was also something very personal here.
I do hope you will take a look at the many links provided in the paragraph above as well as the videos posted here. They take you to each of this years’ students work. And, if you’ve taken the course in any of its many iterations, I’d love this to be an opportunity to hear you reflect on my observations here, this year’s students’ work, or your own experience in the course, given as it also a good-bye of sorts at least for awhile to VRM.
Finally here’s the best blog roll I could compile with the spotty evidence at hand (can’t seem to find S 2010, F 2010). If I don’t have you here, please do let me know (or if you want to be taken off). I’m hoping it’s true that some of you are still blogging, and I’d love to learn that this is a hold-over or take-away from the course even as the Internet (and you) change and grow.
albuzek.wordpress.com: F 2013
aprilmakgoeng.blogspot.com: F 2014
arthistoryvisualculturalstudies.wordpress.com: F 2014
catfishingacademia.weebly.com/blog: F 2014
clemettehaskins.wordpress.com: F 2014
culturalstudiesperceptionandrealism.wordpress.com: F 2014
danaehart.wordpress.com: F 2013
demitao.wordpress.com: F 2014
elysianmusings.wordpress.com: F 2013
factnfolly.wordpress.com: F 2014
fruitfulthinking.wordpress.com: F 2013
kahlitos.wordpress.com: S 2013
kellyconnell.wordpress.com: S 2013
laurenzna.wordpress.com: F 2013
linj12.wordpress.com: S 2013
luciasorianoblog.wordpress.com: F 2013
mcortezguardado.wordpress.com: S 2013
nomdepluot.wordpress.com: F 2013
profmelanie.wordpress.com: F 2014
sarinalraby.blogspot.com: S 2013
sacredla.wordpress.com: F 2014
speakevenifyourvoiceshakes.wordpress.com: F 2013
stephanieancklephd.wordpress.com: F 2014
sungohm.wordpress.com: F 2014
sydneybertram.wordpress.com: S 2013
takecareofself.wordpress.com: F 2013
tcortezguardado.wordpress.com: S 2013
theintellectualvegan.wordpress.com: F 2013
therambler.com: S 2013
thevisualanimal.wordpress.com: S 2013
visualopportunity.wordpress.com: F 2013 (closed)