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Social Media Assemblages in Digital Humanities: from Backchannel to Buzz

Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media

ISBN: 978-0-85724-781-0, eISBN: 978-0-85724-782-7

Publication date: 22 March 2011


While the term “humanities” is not in itself a particularly contentious one among academics, the addition of the term “digital” creates all sorts of problems, even the superficially illogical contention that digital humanities are not humanities at all. The fundamental rupture between digital and print humanities lies in the turning of a materialist, object-oriented analysis upon the practices of humanistic scholarship. That is, in their newness, the digital humanities are unsurprisingly self-reflective about the materiality of their scholarly practices. This self-reflection has been largely absent from traditional humanities where we had all but naturalized the material composition of dissertations, journal articles, monographs, and so on. As a result, even as we continue to pursue traditional scholarly methods, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so without a self-reflective awareness of the historical-material contingency of these practices. In short, they are no longer the same. To explore this issue, this chapter takes up assemblage theory, and actor-network theory to investigate the intersection of mobile technologies and social media in the digital humanities including conference backchannels and networked research communities mediated through Twitter, Google Buzz, and similar applications. The chapter considers how, even for those who continue to publish in traditional genres on traditional subjects, the development of these digital assemblages are transforming compositional practices.


Reid, A. (2011), "Social Media Assemblages in Digital Humanities: from Backchannel to Buzz", Wankel, C. (Ed.) Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media (Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education, Vol. 3), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 321-338.



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