Black Imaginary

Afrofuturism has reached a moment in the popular mind, defined by the works as diverse as Ytasha Womack's  Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture to artistic project such as John Jennings and Stacy Robinson's Black Kirby. As I map out my Afrofuturism course for the Spring semester at MSU, I need to strike a balance between an accessible example and background scholarship for the undergrad. I love this tweet because my own thinking about Afrofuturism is linked to the idea of an African-American black imagination going back to the 19th century. What do figures like Harriet Tubman represent in the black imagination? How do they inspire fictive narratives that shape the collective reality for black and white Americans? Clearly, white southerners imagined the efforts of freedom fighters like Tubman in the darkest tones. The secret plotting that leads to revolt is one part of the southern nightmarescape.  Yet, the subjects that would do that are everywhere. The corrupting voices of someone like Tubman or Frederick Douglass become the thing whites must stop. This is one of the reason reading is forbidden. If slaves and read what the abolitionist writes the ideas will penetrate deeper and further, undermining the system.  At the end of the day, yes, I am taking this suggestion to heart.  

Memorial Day

The systematic erasure of the black experience in American mind is a crucial problem. Memorial Day is linked to the deliberate misremembering of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow ideology. When we forgot how Memorial Day started, it is part of the forgetting the motivation and consequences about the Civil War.  Thankfully, David W. Blight has done the work document the complex origin of the holiday. He is historian you should know! 

The What I did or Hidden Digital Labor Problem

The problem of digital labor in the humanities is a real one. I often talk to colleagues about the work it takes to make something that doesn't seem done. One way to manage that problem is to blog about what you do.  Since the humanities depend so heavily on the building on previous insights, the ability to cite ongoing work and ideas from colleagues through citing their blogs becomes crucial to document the labor they are putting into creating digital objects.  As I write the final report for Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning Workshop I co-designed and co-led with Scot French, the need map out all we did on paper feels a little hollow. We did a lot, but the report can't capture it all.  On the surface, it was a straightforward exercise. Rollins is a part of the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).  The ACS has a generous grants program that has helped me get several digital projects off the ground. The ACS-R1 grant was designed to encourage liberal arts faculty to create collaboration with research institution faculty.   For this ACS- R1 grant I worked with Scot French (UCF) to create a two-day Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning (DLCL) workshop. The workshop was focused on developing a cross-institutional framework for promoting broadly collaborative, community-based undergraduate and graduate student research employing the tools and methods linked to digital humanities. We designed this workshop to expand faculty dialogue connected to community engagement and digital humanities. Of course, Rollins College has received national recognition for its ongoing commitment to community engagement, and the University of Central Florida (UCF) has a public history program and wider institutional mandate to engage with the Central Florida community.  The grant funded the workshop for faculty cohort from Rollins and UCF to explore the possible paths for digital tools and methods in and out of the classroom. As you can see below, we took advantage of digital platforms to keep track of our process.