Ancient-Digital: Announcing Our Department’s New Search

I don’t normally use The Pietist Schoolman for Bethel business, but this morning I’m going to pass along an announcement via our department blog:

We’re happy to announce that we’ve begun a job search for the newest member of our faculty: a gifted, innovative teacher committed to the mission of Bethel and able to straddle the fields of ancient/medieval and digital history.

Some background… For at least a couple of years now (about the same time our long-serving ancient historian, Kevin Cragg retired), I’ve been working with my frequent collaborator Sam Mulberry, Bethel’s fantastic digital library manager, Kent Gerber, and colleagues in fields as diverse as English, Computer Science, Graphic Design, and Communication Studies to explore the possibility of Bethel developing a major in the rather amorphous but exciting field known as Digital Humanities (DH).

HTML code
HTML Code – Creative Commons (Marjan Krebelj)

Here’s how Kent defined DH in a Bethel Clarion story we quoted in this morning’s blog post:

Regardless of how digital humanities is defined, it is characterized by collaboration, creativity and multiple disciplines… You will see people who know a lot about computers working with people who know a lot about humanities research in archaeology, English literature, history, linguistics, art, communication studies or library and information science.

What we’re considering is a DH major combining a few elements:

  • Introductory coursework in digital humanities, plus design and programming
  • Electives in humanities fields, at least two of which would include digital projects that would enter a digital portfolio presented for review to other students and faculty in the program (the major could stand alone, but also combine easily with other humanities majors and/or minors in fields like Computer Science, Graphic Design, and Media Production)
  • Independent experiences (research projects, internships) that would also contribute to that portfolio and give students chances to hone their skills and engage in collaboration with peers, faculty, staff, and off-campus partners
  • A capstone DH course that would include a portfolio-culminating project and explore the intellectual, social, spiritual, and other implications of digitization for individuals and communities

It’s been exciting to contribute to the vision for DH at Bethel, but I’m also well aware that I’ve long since passed the limits of my expertise and experience in the field. So I’m thrilled that our department can not only fill the pre-modern hole in our faculty, but bring in an energetic, innovative new colleague to polish the DH proposal and build a distinctive new program that reenergizes the humanities within the context of the Christian liberal arts.

(If “ancient-digital” seems like an unusual combination… The History Department at the University of Houston, already a leader in digital history, just completed its own “Roman-digital” search.)

Visualizing Greek Rhetoric (University of Minnesota IV/LAB)
An example of a DH project bringing the ancient past to life: “Visualizing Ancient Greek Rhetoric,” from the University of Minnesota’s Interactive Visualization Lab

At the same time, it is a unique position, and our search is commencing very late in the cycle for historians. So I’d appreciate help getting the word out from any of my readers who work in higher ed. Please refer any colleagues or former students who might be interested in the position to our blog story, which links to the official position announcement at Bethel’s employment page.

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