Meredith A Brown is the Chester Dale Senior Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is co-editor of Collaboration and its (Dis)Contents: Collaborative Practices in Art, Architecture and Film (2015), a peer-reviewed digital book; her current project is on feminist institution building in Lower Manhattan. She holds a PhD and MA from The Courtauld Institute of Art and a BA from Stanford University. She’s going to be presenting at THATCamp alongside A.L. McMichael, a PhD candidate in Byzantine art history at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and also a research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A.L. has been active in various GC Digital Initiatives—including the New Media Lab and the Digital Fellows program—for several years. Together, they’ll present a lightening talk titled, “Upcycling:” Building a Professional Online Presence Through Digital Publishing.”
Their lightening talk description? For early career and emerging scholars in the field of art history, the world of digital publishing is both a blessing and a curse: on the one hand, it can provide innovative and interactive ways to present research; on the other, digital-only publications tend to be seen as less prestigious, less rigorous, and ultimately less useful for career advancement than more traditional (paper) publishing. In an open discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of online publishing, we will ask how digital writing might allow us to “upcycle” other work–in online journals, blogs, and other formats–to create an online presence around our research, how online academic presses and the peer-review process might improve and legitimate digital publications, and whether such publishing initiatives in our field are worth it.
Meredith took a few minutes to answer the THATCamp questions:
1. What is your current involvement with digital art history?
I’m interested in collaboration as a general mode of working in the world and in particular in collaborative methods of research and writing in the humanities. Unsurprisingly, many of the most exciting initiatives around collaboration are happening through digital platforms, and that’s very exciting to me. At the moment I’m working with fellow art historian and THATCamp organizer Michelle Millar Fisher as co-editors of a collaboratively written book about collaborative practices in twentieth century art, architecture and film. Of course it’s going to be a digital publication, produced by Courtauld Books Online! And between now and then the fourteen contributing co-authors are generating a website reflective of our research process that will function as both a digital archive of the project and (hopefully) a future teaching tool.
2. What is one of the most pressing issues in the field of “digital art history”?
Within my own work with digital publishing, issues of copyright and access are a constant headache; plus, it is still an uphill battle to ensure that genuinely scholarly publications–rigorously peer-reviewed, professionally edited, etc.–that appear as digital-only publications are given equal weight as traditionally published articles and books. This seems to be a particular struggle for early career scholars in the academic job market and tenure process.
3. Where do you see innovations happening?
There are a number of institutions that seem like they might be rather old fashioned about things that have been doing really interesting open access digital publishing projects–the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Met, the Courtauld, the Getty, University of California Press…and the list is growing
4. What’s the panel or issue you’d like to see proposed for THATCamp CAA in Chicago?
I know there are lots of really great things happening at the intersection of education and digital technology, and as I’ve been out of the teaching loop for a couple of years now, I’m really looking forward to learning about digital innovations in the teaching of art history.