Reframing Failure

Most of us recognise that failure is an unavoidable part of any scholarly endeavour - let alone life - especially for people who work across disciplines. Yet, for something so central to our experience, it often sits at the periphery of our writing, training, and professional discourse. This seminar series explores how we can reframe failure within the digital humanities: the ways we can learn from it, talk about it, and hopefully reconsider our collective relationship to it.

Conceived as a series of conversations, Reframing Failure presents an opportunity to reflect on practice. It welcomes those from within and outside the digital humanities and takes an international and interdisciplinary approach to failure.

Seminar 1: Setting the Failure Agenda

Tuesday, 15 November 2022 at 17:00 GMT

In 2012 Lisa Spiro wrote, ‘Not all experiments succeed as originally imagined, but the digital humanities community recognizes the value of failure in the pursuit of innovation’. A decade later, what does failure mean for the digital humanities community today? If there is value in failure, how do we create the space to fail ‘better’? Panellists include:
    •    Quinn Dombrowski (Stanford)
    •    David de Roure (Oxford)
    •    Jane Winters (School of Advanced Study)
    •    Anna-Maria Sichani (School of Advanced Study) - Chair

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Seminar 2: DH broken - Between experimentation and degradation

Wednesday 25 January 2023 at 17:00 GMT

In digital humanities, things break. All the time. Whether a project has come to the end of its life or is an early prototype, ‘brokenness’ is something digital humanities practitioners will need to address. What can we learn from these encounters with brokenness and how can that shape future projects? Panellists include:
    •    Jenny Mitcham (Digital Preservation Coalition)
    •    Arianna Ciula (King's Digital Lab)
    •    Sara Namusoga-Kaale (Makere University)
    •    Frances Corry (University of Pennsylvania)
    •    Jentery Sayers (University of Victoria)
    •    Jane Winters (School of Advanced Study) - Chair

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Seminar 3: Rejected - failed funding bids, project proposals and job applications

Wednesday 8 March 2023 at 17:00 GMT

Rejection is an essential part of the current academic landscape and everyone has a collection of failed funding bids, project proposals and job applications. What can we learn from these rejections? Panellists include:
    •    Lauren Tuckley (Georgetown University)
    •    Naomi Wells (School of Advanced Study)
    •    Andrew Fairweather-Tall (University of London)
    •    Elena Spadini (Universität Basel)
    •    Christopher Ohge (School of Advanced Study) - Chair

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Seminar 4: It’s complicated: collaborations and partnerships

Thursday 23 March 2023 at 17:00 GMT

A common challenge for digital humanities projects - and a place where many stumble - is managing collaborations across disciplines, cultures, and communities of practice. These differences raise questions of translation, inclusivity, and workplace norms for digital humanities practitioners. Panellists include:
    •    Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary University of London)
    •    Helen Graham (University of Leeds)
    •    Arran Rees (University of Leeds)
    •    Emma Jaster (Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics)
    •    Daniela Major (School of Advanced Study)
    •    Caio Mello (School of Advanced Study)
    •    Jennifer Stertzer (University of Virginia)

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Seminar 5: Communicating failure

Thursday 11 May 2023 at 17:00 GMT

Failure can be challenging to talk about, especially in the formal publication venues that count for researcher’s career advancement. What can we do to expose the ‘messiness’ of digital research when we discuss our work? Panellists include:
    •    Britt Amell (Carleton University)
    •    Nabeel Siddiqui (Susquehanna University)
    •    Janneke Adema (Coventry University)
    •    Gabby Boddard (School of Advanced Study)
    •    Annika Rockenberger (University of Oslo)
    •    David Joseph Wrisley (NYU Abu Dhabi) - Chair

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Seminar 6: After failure

Tuesday 23 May 2023 at 17:00 GMT

If failure forms an essential part of scholarly practice, what comes after failure? How can national organisations encourage failing productively? Are there alternative approaches to research, such as ‘slow scholarship’ or ‘failure as methodology’, that can be integrated into our own research methods? Panellists include:
    •    Lisa Goddard (University of Victoria)
    •    Scott B. Weingart (Independent Scholar)
    •    David Stevenson (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh)
    •    Joris van Zundert (Huygens - KNAW)
    •    Anna-Maria Sichani & Michael Donnay (School of Advanced Study) - Co-Chairs

Register here.