Stephen Bloom, professor of journalism at the University of Iowa, recently published an opinion piece in The Atlantic, titled Observations from 20 Years of Iowa Life. The piece is elitist and condescending and patronizing to a degree rarely seen in prose. My Iowa friends, native and non-native alike, are up in arms, and rightly so.
I’ll offer this as my only comment:
Among his many unjust criticisms of Iowa and Iowans, Bloom relays at the end of his article an anecdote of doubtful veracity about a driver asking him as he walks his dog, “Do much hunting with the bitch?.” The point of the anecdote remains obscure to me.
What bothers me most, perhaps, about the anecdote though, and Bloom’s telling of the anecdote, is that Bloom has not yet, despite his twenty years in the state, managed to grasp the dry wit for which Iowans are famous. When, as he relays in his self-loathing article, a driver supposedly asked the dog-walking Bloom, “Do much hunting with the bitch?,” I myself assumed that the native Iowan interlocutor in the pickup truck was talking to the dog.
Pity that the humor was lost on Bloom.
BA, English, University of Iowa, ’02, with Honors and Highest Distinction, Collegiate Scholar, ’02
PhD, English (Rhetoric and Writing), University of Texas at Austin, ’10
After the semester wraps up here at Western Carolina I’ll be attending THATCampVA. THATCampVA is a regional incarnation of the larger THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) “unconference.” The mission of THATCamp is pretty exciting in terms of how it shakes up the typical conference format, how its content is determined by the participants, its content is open source and note sharing is the norm, its prioritizing of conversations over presentations, and the unconference’s preference for short, PechaKucha style presentations. Check out their website for more info. THATCampVA is being held in Charlottesville, VA, on the campus of the University of Virginia. This will be my first THATCamp event.
THATCamp events typically include BootCamps, which are brief technology training sessions, and take place one day before the main THATCamp event begins. At THATCampVA I’ll be attending the GIS Track BootCamp, which is particularly exciting for me because I used to work in GIS when I worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) at the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), which is also in Charlottesville. I imagine that the technologies and interfaces have changed quite significantly in the time since I was working with them regularly.
Now that THATCampVA participants have been selected, the participants have begun proposing topics of discussion for the weekend via the THATCampVA blog. The proposals should be less than 500 words each. I’ve pitched three ideas, and tried to hold myself to 250 words per idea, so as not to overwhelm the board. To be perfectly honest though, I’m not too worried about whether or not any of my ideas gain any momentum with the other Campers, but am simply excited to meet people working n the digital humanities (very broadly conceived) here on the East Coast. Most of the THATCampVA participants are on Twitter, and you can find a list of them HERE.
Here are the topics of discussion that I’ve proposed:
- the politics of expertise, and how the digital humanities (whatever that is) might take a role in returning ethics to the center of higher education
As per the spirit of THATCamp events, I’ll be blogging my notes/thoughts/screeds during and after the event itself in December. As always when venturing off of my mountaintop fortress and into public, my primary goal will be to not make an ass of myself: