Confessions aka my (belated) introduction
My name is Wendy Sung. I'm a PhD candidate in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan and I have a confession: I faked it in front of 75 students for a whole semester while I was the teaching assistant for a course entitled Digital Culture, but I still don't have firm grasp on how I would define the parameters of the word digital. Coming from a film and media studies background, I used default to (inter)disciplinary definitions of digital media and the associated ideas of interactivity, fandom, cyber utopian and technological deterministic arguments that seem to date me as some sort of an outdated, Jenkinsian school of model of digital culture. But the word digital, as I'm learning, both from this site and elsewhere, is far more capacious than just that. In some ways, I often think that word digital has been simultaneously overloaded with meaning and emptied of meaning that I have no idea where to begin. So my first inclination is to heed Toni Morrison's reminder, "there is really nothing more to say- except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how," an impulse I know we all share. Keeping this in mind, I suppose that's why I'm drawn to scholars like Max Dawson, Lisa Gitelman, Lisa Nakamura and Lynn Spigel, among others, that have all pointed out that digital (or in our current usage, the new in new media) has never been exactly new, but is tied to a larger historical trajectory and is innately relational, contingent, and discursively constructed, despite retaining its medium specificity. Indeed, this is why I'm also fascinated by how race and racial formations get similarly constructed and remediated. And this is also why my dissertation looks at the memory of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and discursive constructions of media technologies in relation to race, racial violence and nation. I'm just beginning the writing process of the dissertation but I'm already fascinated by the stakes of labeling one's work digital humanities and the bundle of associated meanings that it carries. In the end, I hope that being a part of this community will not only inform "she who will not be named," aka my dissertation, but also provide a long-lasting forum where we continue to interrogate the various meanings of the digital and its connection to identity and power.