Department of Humanities Ph.D. students Mike DeAnda and Xi Rao have been selected as 2016 fellows in the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) Scholars Program. Comprised of a student-driven community of graduate and undergraduate students, the work of HASTAC fellows focuses on "rethinking pedagogy, learning, research, and academia for the digital age." Learn more about Mike and Xi, and their individual work with HASTAC.
First, what is your focus area within your Ph.D. program?
Mike: As part of the Technology and Humanities program at Illinois Tech, my research is within the field of games studies. My dissertation focuses on game spaces that promote subversive gender performances.
Xi: My research interests are located at the intersection of social media analysis and civic engagement. So far, I’ve studies how fans, NPOs, and immigrant communities use social media. It is just very attractive to me to analyze the big data that people generate on social media.
What will you each be working on as HASTAC scholars?
Mike: I will be organizing HASTAC meetup during the Southwest Pop American Culture Association held in Albuquerque in February. I will also be moderating an annual discussion over Twitter during my tenure as a scholar. I still have to schedule this, but I'm considering focusing one of my sessions on eroticism and interactive media. For the other session, I'm considering drawing from Haraway's call for 'cyborg writings' in order to talk about technologies that allow for more inclusive engagement in world building.
Xi: As a new HASTAC scholar, I will actively participate in helping to develop forums, hosting local events, organizing Twitter chats, and hosting webinars to share tools, expertise, and resources. Specifically, I will organize and participate an offline meetup for HASTAC scholars during the conference, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, which will be held in Chicago next March. And I will also help lead Twitter chats on topics about my research field—social media analysis, civic engagement, and fan studies.
Why did you apply for this opportunity?
Mike: Both Libby Hemphill and Carly Kocurek presented us with the opportunity to apply. While organizing the 4th Different Games Conference in April, I met Alex Algoro who also urged me to apply for membership as a HASTAC scholar. She said that it would be a good opportunity to network with others who study and create interesting things related to gender, sexuality and technology. I think it will be a beneficial experience both for networking and professional development.
Xi: I firstly heard about this program from my advisor, Professor Libby Hemphill. She recommended HASTAC to me. And then I went to the website and found that this program actually helps scholars in fields of humanities, arts, science, and technology learn from peers about various technologies and tools. I’ve been always thinking that I should not only study by myself and learn from my advisor, but also learn from other peers. So I think HASTAC can give me that opportunity to interact with more people in my research field.
What does being a HASTAC scholar mean to you?
Mike: It's the opportunity to network with other amazing scholars who do interesting and innovative research regarding technology with a humanistic approach. I am very excited to bring my own research on queerness in games and interactive media to the table.
Xi: Being a HASTAC scholar means to be a part of the amazing community of contributors to humanities and technology. I am very proud and excited to discuss issues in social media and civic engagement with others.