CSUN’s local chapter of 4Humanities holds monthly meetings that include scholarly discussion of the current state of the humanities and advocacy options; communicates with other local chapters to participate in 4Humanities events; contributes to the 4Humanities website through blog posts and article suggestions; and holds an annual colloquium with a relevant keynote speaker (budget allowing).
Members can contribute to the 4Humanities organization by blogging, keeping an online journal, researching and sharing articles, and/or fundraising. Additionally, CSUN’s local 4Humanities chapter showcases humanities scholarship using a “backpack documentary” system where the members of CSUN’s chapter each learn how to document humanities research/projects by creating mini-documentary films. Students opting to create these documentaries must undergo a mandatory training session on equipment use and basic editing, organizing the project’s timeline (including scheduling equipment use), and implementing the project. Mini-documentary projects can range from current student research to the making of the documentary itself.
The overall goal is to use interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration to foster connections among local branch members and outside the community. Aligning with the 4Humanities initiative, 4Humanities@CSUN is sponsored by the Center for the Digital Humanities.
1. Undergraduate Digital Showcase/ First-Year Feature Project
The CSUN College of Humanities offers several courses that facilitate the creation of digital projects by students, including the different levels of freshman writing that comprise the new Stretch curriculum. In order to provide public recognition for the exemplary work being done by CSUN students, the Center for the Digital Humanities is creating an “Undergraduate Digital Showcase” for the best digital projects by undergraduate students. The program is being undertaken as part of the Humanities Undergraduate Outreach Project of the 4Humanities initiative, a multi-institution consortium that advocates for the Humanities. The Undergraduate Digital Showcase will display five of the best student projects on the Center for the Digital Humanities web site, and the showcase may also be duplicated on the 4Humanities site. A “First-Year Feature” subcategory will highlight the most outstanding digital project by a first-year student on a subject in the Humanities or a closely related field. All formats are accepted, and projects can either be individually or collaboratively authored. Projects must be nominated by a faculty member.
2. CSUN Mini-Documentary Backpack Project
This project facilitates the making of short, mini-documentaries that promote humanities scholarship by giving a narrative voice to the research process. These mini-films will depict the process of doing humanities research through interviews with students and scholars as they work on their scholarly activities. In addition to interviews, the films will show methods, and may include debate and dialogue with other students and/or scholars. Each film will cover one research project. In essence, these documentaries would bring the “human” back to humanities work by showing real people engaging in scholarly activities. These short films could be posted on the 4Humanties website, CSUN’s Center for the Digital Humanities website, and elsewhere.
o The film must be about 5 minutes long (no more than 7 minutes).*
o The film must explore the process of scholarly “discovery” or “invention.”
o The film must show the research process.
o If the project is placed within the public sphere (through a conference, publication, reading, presentation, etc) within the time-frame of the documentary, the film will also depict this process.
The idea is to produce short, easy-to-watch films that are accessible to students and the larger public, and that can thus promote the value inherent in humanities research activities to as large an audience as possible. Making these activities more visible and less mysterious will both encourage students to engage in the same scholarly activities as depicted in the films, and promote to the public the value of these activities for society in general. At CSUN (or whatever future schools also implement this project), these documentary films will have a further benefit of showcasing the quality research taking place at a non-research-intensive university and helping to justify this work to administrators and the general public.
3. “Disseminating the Humanities” Video Project
This project, currently near completion, produces video interviews with notable persons in the digital humanities in order to understand how the act of promoting, disseminating, and maintaining humanities scholarship can be aided by digital media. Foregrounded by an effort to define the sometimes elusive content of humanistic inquiry, and framed by the mission of a new Center for the Digital Humanities at California State University, Northridge, this project seeks out strategies to proliferate practices of digital humanities scholarship as a way of reaching outside the humanities community, thus adding value to its products for a larger general population.
Michael Green, President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Naomi Carrington, Treasurer (email@example.com)
Dr. Scott Kleinman, Supervising Faculty Member (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kristin Cornelius, Faculty Member (email@example.com)