Principles in Practice: Wendy Hsu's video conference paper
Ethnomusicologist Wendy Hsu, currently a Mellon Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow at Occidental College, was unable to attend the annual Society of Ethnomusicology meeting in 2011. In response to a policy that doesn't allow virtual presentations at the conference, she crafted an experimental video essay and distributed it virally on YouTube the morning she was scheduled to present, teasing and announcing the release on twitter:
This allowed Hsu's presentation to spread beyond the panel or conference, and well beyond her field. The responses, both explicitly and implicitly, recognized the subjective nature of the piece as one of its argumentative strengths, particularly as Hsu's project sought to raise the visibility of Asian and Asian American Music, that she also performs.
Responding to the video, Alexandra Juhasz notes that Hsu's "creative, performance, reflexive, politicized public scholarship about and in new media ask us to consider via form the 'responsibilities, rights, visibility and consequence' of our scholarly labor." The labor under scrutiny here is the scholarly conference presentation which, as Juhasz notes, often is little more than a "human-fronted powerpoint or journal article," devoid of feeling.
The personal nature of Hsu's subject, and her active negotiation of her hybrid identity as scholar/performer in the video, evokes the subjective qualities that transmedia scholarship should strive for. Broadly, Hsu challenges us to consider how our identities impact our scholarship, but she also formalizes the "shifting viewpoints" of this principle, occasionally shooting the video from her subjective point-of-view of the computer screen, occasionally placing herself center stage to perform identity for the camera.
I have annotated the first video segment of Hsu's "paper" below to point out some additional instances in which the keywords and principles of transmedia scholarship are enacted:
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