Although I had followed tech discussions related to literature for several years, I admit that the discussions and coverage of digital humanities (DH) at the Modern Language Association (MLA) conferences over the last few years was what really got me more involved in DH communities. Attending panels and following articles by William Pannapacker and Mark Sample's annual round-ups of DH panels greatly contributed to my understanding of the active conversations and work being done.
Although DH discussions at MLA were growing, there was little discussion of the field an its effects on African American literary study at the College Language Association (CLA) conferences. As a result, about three years ago, I decided to devote my attention to DH topics at CLA conferences, and I quickly enlisted the assistance of my younger brother Kenton, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, who also thinks and writes about technology. Each year, for the last few years, we've organized or participated on panels at CLA that emerged from our various conversations about race, technology, and DH.
I was pleased with what I viewed as an increase in the number of panels engaging technology, DH, and afrofuturism at this year's CLA. There is not the high level of interest and high volume of panels on DH at CLA that we've seen at MLA, but then that makes sense considering that CLA is so much smaller and not as well-resourced. On the other hand, CLA provides a space for thinking about the racial implications of DH and the convergence of black literature and technology that MLA typically does not offer. In other words, I've benefited by thinking about DH at MLA and CLA.
• Digital Humanities at CLA 2013