Editing Modernism in Canada


June 5, 2014

On Belonging

This post begins long before DHSI.

Last semester, I enrolled in a grad-level Project Design and Management course in another department. My classmates and instructor were super welcoming, and I got to work with the wonderful EMiC graduate fellow Andrea Johnston. But I was regularly asked some variation of this question: “Why are you here?” To be clear, this question was asked with respect and genuine interest. Nevertheless, it was a question that I found challenging. The experience was entirely new to me, and I struggled not only to complete the work and learn the concepts but also to justify this training to myself.

When I arrived at DHSI, the question was waiting for me. “Why are you here?” This time, I was fresh out of my first day of the CWRC-run course on Collaborative Online Scholarship, and I answered with an unexpected level of confidence and enthusiasm (read: a shameless brag). That first day of DHSI was enough to refuel me. I has already met a diversity of scholars with a broad range of projects. And though many introduced themselves with a sense of trepidation, it was immediately clear to me that regardless of discipline, experience, or skills, they all contributed to the fantastically generative and invigorating space that is DHSI. We may not all feel in our element, but this community is better and stronger with each of us in it.

DH has an openness about it that I aim to emulate. I do not want to be limited by my formal education, my professional experience or even by my own passions. I want to develop amid diverse communities, not in isolation. This world is terrifically unstable, and I do not just mean economically. I hope to meet the challenges it throws at me, and for now that means actively seeking out challenges

I could bring this down to a practical level in so many ways. I could talk about transferable skills, as Melissa Dalgleish and many others have usefully done. I could reflect on the incredible privilege of being here at DHSI, and I invite you to challenge me on this in whatever ways you can. I could talk about how much I have learned this week, how much EMiC, DH, and so many of you have taught me, and how exactly I will apply that knowledge and wisdom. But these are long and, hopefully, ongoing conversations.

For now, I want to dwell in the confidence that DHSI has so vitally instilled in me. I want to actively take responsibility for my scholarship, my labour, and my professional trajectory. So I return to the old question: Why am I here? Because I chose to be. And I chose well.

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