“We don’t want to have any closed doors.”

That was how Alexis Lothian, co-founder of #transformDH, described the collective at this weekend’s Transformative Digital Humanities Conference and THATCamp.

“It’s been so great to bring people here and see these conversations take place that I’ve been a part of for years,” she said.

The conference, which was born out of the collective that Lothian and several others formed in 2011, was an amalgamation of presentations, interactive workshops, and a keynote speech from scholar Lisa Nakamura on “The Unwanted Digital Labor of Social Justice: Race, Gender, and the Origins of Call Out Culture.”

At the 2011 American Studies Association  — when they formed the panel that would later become #transformDH — Lothian and her partners (Moya Bailey, Amanda Phillips and Anne Cong-Huyen) wanted the focus to revolve around queer and ethnic studies in digital humanities.

Since then, #transformDH has focused on that which is queer, or hard to define. In a similar vein, this weekend’s event was amorphous, and purposefully so.

On Friday, two videographers from Gallaudet University shared a project on American Sign Language (ASL) Shakespeare productions and discussed the intersectionality of his works and what their accessibility could mean to the deaf community.

A group of graduate students also hosted a panel to discuss the relationship between disability studies and digital humanities.

Saturday, attendees had the opportunity to propose on-the-spot sessions during an unconference. The subject matter included how affect and emotion impacts professional and scholarly settings and ways to “hack” the academic institution as scholars in less conventional fields of study.

The two-day long event was highly accessible, whether you were physically present or not. The presentations and Nakamura’s keynote speech were all livestreamed throughout the day on Friday. The video presentations were posted on the #transformDH website, Twitter streams ran throughout the weekend, and interactive Google Docs were posted for attendees during each session of the conference.

The conference was, essentially, what #transformDH is all about.

“It’s about making knowledge through digital means, through technology,” Lothian said. “The ways in which we use digital technology to connect, to push forward ideas, critiques, social justice.”

Lothian said that examples of digital humanities include hashtags, blogging communities, or the experience of discovering Audre Lorde and black feminism through Tumblr.

“These images and sounds that come to us — that become part of our thought — we have the ability … to take those images and change them, reorder them, shuffle them, comment on them, shift them,” Lothian said. “And that’s knowledge production. And that’s the kind of work #transformDH is interested in promoting and focusing on.”

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of iconshut.com.

WritersBloc_Headshots_16Daphne Pellegrino is a junior journalism major and can be reached at dpellegr@terpmail.umd.edu.

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