‘Women’s History in the Digital World’ Conference 2013: Vibrant and Absorbing Conversations on Women’s History

The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education held its first major conference, examining issues in women’s history, gendered analysis, technology and the digital humanities on Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, 2013. Almost one hundred scholars, students, independent researchers, archivist, librarians, technologists and many others gathered at Bryn Mawr College to discuss their work at the first Women’s History in the Digital World conference.¬†

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Keynote speaker Professor Laura Mandell, Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture and Professor of English at Texas A&M

The conference opened on Friday afternoon with a provocative and inspiring keynote by Laura Mandell of Texas A&M, “Feminist Critique vs. Feminist Production in Digital Humanities.” The talk advocated that those whose work seeks to recover marginalized histories and perpetuate them in digital form must¬† actively produce new work that embodies criticism, rather than only publishing critiques of existing work. Her speech raised several points that served as touchstones throughout the weekend for the attendees and presenters, many of whom are currently grappling with the challenge of giving digital presence to marginalized voices. How does the modern scholar produce work that is compatible enough with mainstream practices to guarantee visibility and sustainability, without undermining the ways in which these stories deviate from the mainstream? Her talk will be made available shortly on the conference website so please keep an eye on this site for more content.

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Conference attendees converse after the keynote on Friday March 22nd at Wyndham Alumnae House, Bryn Mawr College

The conference was a forum for many rich conversations, and thanks to Twitter you can follow the discussions by searching the official conference hashtag #WHDigWrld. Conference participant Professor Michelle Moravec (@ProfessMoravec), Rosemont College, created a Storify of the Tweets and a blog on her reflections about the conference. Nancy Rosoff (@NancyRosoff), Arcadia University, has also written a blog post about the conference including excerpts from her paper. We are encouraging all presenters to upload information to the conference website which uses the Bepress software, acting as a repository and an archive of the conference.

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Bryn Mawr College undergraduate Lianna Reed ’14 helped at the conference. She’s pictured here at the registration desk in Thomas Hall, the venue for the second day of the conference.

Conference panels were held all day on Saturday March 24th related to the four panel session overarching themes: Pedagogy: Digital Sources and Teaching in Women’s History; Developments in Digital Women’s History; Digital Archives and Practices and finally, Culture and Representation in the Digital World.

The conference ended with a roundtable with participation from Cheryl Klimaszewski, Digital Collections Specialist, Bryn Mawr College, Cathy Moran Hajo, Ph.D., Associate Editor/Assistant Director, The Margaret Sanger Papers Project, New York University, Christine A. Woyshner, Ed.D., Professor of Elementary Education /K-12 Social Studies, Temple University and moderated by Jennifer Redmond, Director of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital
Center for the History of Women’s Education, Bryn Mawr College. Topics that arose included the difficulties in funding and sustaining funding for digital humanities projects related to women’s history; what a digital humanities ‘toolkit’ should look like for those interested in developing their skills; funding opportunities and potential collaborations between the conference participants and the importance of networking, sharing information and collaborating with each other.

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The closing reception at the conference was held in the Rare Book Room Gallery, Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College. Conference participants were able to wind down and explore the Taking Her Place exhibition, curated by The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education.

The conference ended with a reception at the Rare Book Room Gallery to view the Taking Her Place exhibition, co-curated by Evan McGonagill and Jennifer Redmond of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. This exhibition, which runs until June 2nd 2013, harnesses many of the themes of the conference as it includes digital elements as well as traditional archival material on the history of women’s education. If you have not yet visited the exhibition, please do so! Direct any questions you have about it to greenfieldhwe@brynmawr.edu and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @GreenfieldHWE for further updates on the exhibition program. We have also uploaded a splash of photos from the event to our Tumblr.

The conference organizers would like to thank their sponsors, The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation and the Tri-Co Digital Humanities Initiative for their support. We would also like to thank Camilla McKay, Head of Carpenter Library, Bryn Mawr College, for her support in creating the conference website and Lianna Reed ’14 for her support at the registration desk. Finally, we would like to thank all the presenters and participants who made this such a fantastic and vibrant conference – we look forward to welcoming you again in 2014!