Thursday, September 22, 2022

Static Shock

The latest episode of Remarkable Receptions focuses on the comic book and television show African American superhero Static Shock. The episode was written by Stephyn Phillips.

Black Panther variant cover exhibit

September 21, we hosted an exhibit on comic book cover variant images as part of our series of exhibits this semester. In 2016, Marvel Comics did something unusual with respect to a comic book featuring a black character by a black writer.  When Black Panther #1 was released, it included two dozen different variant covers.

Students took a look at several different variant covers for Black Panther #1 (2016). The consensus among the viewers was that an image by Sanford Greene and Alex Ross were the favorites. 

The Black Panther #1 variant cover by Greene depicts a father and mother with a newborn—presumably a young Black Panther. The clothing of the couple suggests a time in a somewhat distant past. The cover image is unusual for a comic book cover: two black parents adoring their child.

Alex Ross's Black Panther #1 variant displays T'Challa/Black Panther in a mid-air leap. At his back are a group of police officers training their guns on the protagonist. Prior to taking on duties as the writer for Black Panther, Ta-Nehisi Coates became well known for his commentary on African Americans and strained race relations in the United States. As Ross constructed his cover, he perhaps assumed that Coates might take up issues such as police brutality in his run on Black Panther. That probably explains the apparent conflict between T'Challa and the police officers in the image.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Creating welcoming spaces vs. inviting black students

Last week at the "Expanding Access to Digital Humanities" workshop, Meg Smith gave a presentation discussing various issues concerning digital humanities (DH). Toward the end, she highlighted a really crucial point.

She talked about how there are many faculty, staff, and units on campuses that announce themselves as  welcoming spaces for diversity and African American students. But after working with a recent program, RISE-DH, which she, I, others, and black students collaborate on at SIUE, Meg noted that creating welcoming spaces is not necessarily the same as actively engaging and inviting black students into spaces. 

Just because you create a space doesn't guarantee black students will come.  

For "spaces," Meg was talking about DH Centers as well as other tech and humanities environments, but now I'm thinking about how universities face challenges and opportunities inviting black students into a variety of spaces on campuses. Folks haven't thought about it enough.  

During my years at SIUE, I've had the good fortune of contributing to the development of a couple of vibrant networks that involve large numbers of black students. The Student Opportunities for Academic Results (SOAR) on the one hand, and then African American literature studies courses on the other. Somewhere in between there, I also developed a few special projects that involved many students. 

But those programs are hardly the norm. And you'll hear quite a few students at SIUE discussing their feelings of isolation. It's not difficult to see many ways that they are excluded from an array of academic resources and spaces on campus. So there's a lot of work to do to address those problems. 

I'm glad that Meg's presentation at the workshop got me thinking on it a little more.  

Notes on the Expanding Access to Digital Humanities Workshop

On September 16 and 17, I attended the "Expanding Access to Digital Humanities" workshop at Lindenwood University. The workshop, funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, was co-directed by Geremy Carnes, Associate Professor of English at Lindenwood, and Meg Smith, digital humanities research professor at SIUE and one of my key collaborators. 

The workshop brought together about two dozens educators -- secondary teachers and college professors -- from the St. Louis region. The gathering is designed to "build a digital humanities network for the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, linking faculty, students, and community members across the region’s educational and cultural institutions in a community of pedagogy and practice."

Participants included middle school teachers, high school teachers, librarians, professors of history, literature, philosophy, art history, and music. We discussed a number of topics, including:
• DH curricula
• Making DH projects access to students
• DH and social justice 
• Integrating DH into curricula 
• Collaborating on DH projects and resources 
I had a good time listening and learning from the variety of educators from across the region. 

It's an exciting proposition to develop an active DH network in the St. Louis area, which includes southern Illinois. There are several colleges and universities here, and then hundreds of secondary schools. Figuring out how to bring folks together who are working on technology and humanities projects is really something. 

I began this blog back in 2008, and in 2009, after participating in some of the conversations at the Modern Language Association conference, I started blogging about digital humanities. By 2013, I felt like I had enough posts to create a Notebook on DH.   

I live in St. Louis and work at SIUE, so for the most part, my local DH projects have taken place in Edwardsville and East St. Louis. I certainly hadn't given enough thought to what it might mean to converse and work with folks in the broader St. Louis region.  

In 2020, Geremy created the St. Louis Area Digital Humanities Network on Slack, using that messaging program to unite people and share information, news, and opportunities related to DH projects. In 2021, Geremy and Meg established a partnership between Lindenwood and SIUE by applying for and earning this NEH grant for the workshop.  I'm thankful to both of them and the gathering of educators for prompting me to consider what a DH network in this region might look like. 


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Black Men Novelists and Intellectual Traditions

For the latest episode of Remarkable Receptions, I wrote a short take on an interconnected thread of intellectualism in novels by black men. 


Friday, September 9, 2022

Black Novels with 1 Million+ Page Views

This visualization identifies 11 Black novels with more than 1 million pageviews on Wikipedia. 

Note: Visualization best viewed from desktop and laptop computers, rather than cellphones.


Stats & Stelfreeze exhibit

Wednesday, Sept. 7 and Thursday, Sept. 8, we hosted our Stats & Stelfreeze exhibit. 

The exhibit focused on statistics concerning black student majors and graduation rates. At the same time, we showcased artwork by comic artist Brian Stelfreeze. 


African American Literary Studies Programming, fall 2022

This semester, we'll coordinate several different public exhibits. The exhibits will take place in the Eugene B. Redmond Center in Lovejoy Library unless otherwise noted.  

Wednesday, September 7, 12:00 – 3:00 pm
Thursday, September 8, 10:30 – 3:30pm

Wednesday, September 21, 11:00 am – 1:00pm

Visualizing Black Writers (from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection)
Wednesday, October 5, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thursday, October 6, 10:30 – 3:30 pm

Black Portraiture #1
Wednesday, October 19, 11:00 am – 1:00pm

Black Portraiture #2
Wednesday, November 2, 10:45 am – 3:00 pm
Thursday, November 3, 10:30 – 3:30 pm

Many Moods of Maya (from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection)
Wednesday, November 16, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

End-of-the-semester festival 
Monday, December 5, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tuesday, December 6, 11:00 am – 3:30 pm