Rethinking Innovation: Practices of Care and Maintenance in DH Scholarship and Pedagogy

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
NEMLA 2021 (Philadelphia, PA)

While the theme for this year’s NEMLA conference proposes the dyad of “tradition and innovation,” some recent work in the Digital Humanities has skirted these two poles. An influential forum on “Ethics, Theories, and Practices of Care” in the 2019 edition of Debates in the Digital Humanities explores the status of care relations, maintenance and repair, the embrace of lowered-innovation levels, and the turn away from compulsive productivity in the sphere of Digital Humanities scholarship and pedagogy. These concerns follow a similar wave of interest in care and care relations in literary studies.

Digital Humanities practitioners and scholars working within these areas are asking questions like what does it mean to be a “caretaker of systems” (Nowviskie)? What does it mean to center “the work of care in our digital practices” (Klein and Gold), or to “care for things as things” (Jackson)? Is the collaborative nature of DH work itself a manifestation of interpersonal caring (Crunk Feminist Collective)? Always relevant, such scholarly and pedagogical questions and inquiries have become urgent since the massive shift to remote instruction, telework, and virtual forms of social life and care in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In this framework, this panel invites all manner of submissions that examine what it means to care about or care for the Digital Humanities, its practitioners, audiences, and material objects.

Topics may include but are not limited to DH projects and tools foregrounding practices of care (such as digitization initiatives, the creation of digital editions, archives, exhibits, and repositories); advocacy work; authoring of tutorials and documentation; software maintenance; repair/enhancement of obsolesced DH projects and tools; data management and preservation activities; labor practices; studies of collaboration and trust within development communities; minimal computing applications; and the intersections of digital technologies with the environmental humanities.

We welcome proposals for 15-minute paper presentations. For more information, please email

N.B.: At this time, it is uncertain whether the panel will take place in-person or virtually, although the latter seems more likely. For more info about the conference, scheduled for March 11-14, see: