Scholar Spotlight: Erin Lane

Scholar Spotlight: Erin Lane

Why did you apply to HASTAC?

I applied to HASTAC to grow my network of fellow Digital Humanists and to learn more about our field. I am in my last year of my Ph.D. in Spanish Literature and Culture and I know how important it is to seek out opportunities to learn and grow after graduation. HASTAC has a network of very impressive scholars doing groundbreaking research, and I am honored to have been selected as a HASTAC scholar.

 

What has been your favorite course so far as an instructor or student? Why?

As a student it was a course on the “Generation of 1927” from Spain. Not only did I learn so much about this group of artists, writers, and intellectuals in depth, but it was also my first introduction into using DH tools in research. I created a project about Isabel Oyarzábal Smith (de Palencia) which you can see here.

As a teacher it was the “Introduction to Hispanic Literature” class that I taught in Spring 2021. The students were phenomenal! They were always willing to have deep conversations about literature and to try new things. For example, they created a collective timeline and map based on the authors that we read during the semester. They were not scared to try something new, and I am incredibly proud of their projects! You can see them here:

map / timeline

 

What do you want to do after you graduate?

If I were to describe my dream job, it would be something where I can teach about Spanish Literature and Culture and Digital Humanities. These are my two passions, and I can’t imagine doing something that doesn’t involve them. I have spent most of my life as either a teacher or a student, so I imagine that education will continue to play a large role in my life. 

As a personal dream, I would love to travel to all of the Spanish speaking countries of the world. So far, I have only visited 5, so I have a long way to go!  

 

What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I think people would be surprised to know that I do literary analysis with a computer. I got introduced to computational digital humanities a few years ago and I am FASCINATED by it! I have learned a little Python and R, and I am amazed at what can be uncovered by distant reading. This kind of work is completely out of my comfort zone, so it might surprise people. 

 

What are some things that you wish you knew before you got into graduate school?

#1. That being a graduate teaching assistant/associate does not always pay enough to cover living expenses. Choose where you study wisely if you are going to be a full time student. It is a great opportunity to get tuition covered and get teaching experience, but it can be a stretch. 

#2. How stressful it can be and how much you will doubt yourself. Imposter syndrome is a REAL THING. Even if you work really hard and are very accomplished, you will doubt yourself in some way. And along these lines… Therapy is a great thing for everyone!

#3. One really positive thing that came out of my grad school experience was that I learned a lot about myself as a person, and questioned my beliefs. My grad school work really pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to understand who I am and what my role is in this world. I feel stronger and more confident as a result, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything!

 

How do you envision HASTAC and/or higher education in 10 years? Where do you fit in?

I see HASTAC and the Digital Humanities continuing to occupy an important role in Higher Ed. in the coming years. There are more and more positions for scholars in DH, and I think it is wonderful. We need to think of different ways to do research, and I am very excited about the potential that DH has to do research. I see myself continuing to do DH work and to teach it in the future.

 

How does digital scholarship fit into your research or teaching?

Digital Scholarship is very important in both my research and teaching. I see it as a new way of conducting research. As far as teaching goes, I believe that teaching digital methods and tools has the potential to take students to higher levels of Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy. Instead of just remembering material, they can use digital tools to analyze, evaluate, and definitely create! 

 

What do you hope to accomplish with your research or teaching?

I hope to show how DH work can be beneficial in teaching. I am currently working on a book chapter about the role of DH tools and methods in teaching and learning. I have been a teacher for 18 years and I see the transformational potential of them. I hope to teach other scholars about DH and help my students to learn how to use them in order to develop and improve their critical thinking skills.

 

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?

I just finished a series called “Enslaved” featuring Samuel L. Jackson. It was really interesting and taught me some aspects of the Transatlantic Slave Trade that I did not know. It was a very moving series, and I would highly recommend it. 

 

 

What’s something we should ask you? What’s your answer?

What can be done to improve the academic job search process? Or what do you wish you knew before entering the job market?

This question is on my mind as I am currently on the job market, and I can tell you that it is brutal! I do not say this to dissuade others from seeking academic jobs. I want my peers to understand that they are not alone in feeling discouraged or dehumanized during the process. First, I wish that schools would ask for the basic documents on the initial application which allow them to screen and choose their top 10 candidates for zoom interviews. It can be very time consuming for applicants to tailor materials to each position, and it would alleviate the work required of the already busy search committee members. Second, graduate programs need to provide specific training for students who are entering the job market. The academic job search requires specific knowledge, and it is not always easily attained. When I first began applying, I assumed that my knowledge in attaining a K-12 job would transfer to a higher education job search and I made many foolish mistakes. Finally, (for those hiring) please communicate with applicants if you are not interested in them. I would be happy to have a simple form email telling me that they are not interested and wishing me luck instead of waiting weeks or months to find out the status of the search. We are all human and it is a very tough process. Give yourself grace and try to distract yourself with your work or some kind of self-care. I wish I had realized how labor intensive it would be and how easily I could be distracted from my work by it.

As a tip for those entering the market, check out the academic wikis to keep up on the process. It can be disappointing learning that you did not get the interview/campus visit/job, but it helps to concentrate your time on what really matters. And if you get rejected, it is not because you are not worthy! There are a million factors at play, and it may be that the university has someone specific in mind, or that you just didn’t have one skill that they really needed. There is a lot of luck involved. I want to send love to all that enter the job market and wish them all the best of luck!