This semester, we are highlighting the people that make Wardman Library possible. Each week, we will bring you an interview with one person who helps to support the mission of the library at Whittier College. You can find a list of past interviews in our blog archives. This week, we interviewed Digital Scholar, Anne Cong-Huyen.
What is your job title?
I’m the Digital Scholar and Co-coordinator of the Digital Liberal Arts Center.
What three words best describe you?
Feminist, silly, weird
What do you do at Whittier College?
I basically support digital scholarship on campus: I help faculty with digital research, both about digital topics like new media studies and digital research methods, and I work with them to incorporate digital assignments into their courses (digital books, blogs, Twitter, Wikipedia editing, etc.). I also work with Sonia Chaidez in coordinating the Student Technology Liaison program to train peer mentors who work with students to find innovative ways to do their research and present their work in digital or electronic means, such as digital posters, infographics, or video essays. We’ll actually be hosting a Research Slam as part of URSCA, and we really want students to apply and work with us to do digital presentations of their research!
How would you describe your work space?
It’s a work in progress, but I like to call it “kawaii clutter.” I’ve been slowly moving my research books from my home office to work, so the bookshelves are a bit bare at the moment, but it’s getting there. My desk is a bit of a mess, but I’ve been bringing in some of my cute Asian American knick knacks, nerdy cartoon and movie paraphernalia, and posters, since those make me happy. Students are also sometimes surprised to see this stuff, and I think it gives me some nerd cred.
What’s your favorite book?
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (amazing gnarly, dark, feminist revisions of fairy tales).
The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata (intense hard nano punk sci-fi novel with a woman of color cyborg protagonist)
I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith (bittersweet bildungsroman about a young woman in Modernist England. One of my favorite narrators ever.)
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I’m finishing The Circle by Dave Eggers and I have How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel, by Mohsin Hamid, up next.
I’ve recently binge watched The Bletchley Circle on Netflix, a crime drama mini-series England’s female human computers and code-breakers of WWII. Absolutely riveting. I’ve also been meaning to catch up with Jane the Virgin (ABC), a really cute, funny, smart, telenovela-esque series with a brilliant Latina lead actress, Gina Rodriguez, who I just adore. Best narrator on TV. I’ve also started watching the Asian American sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, based on the memoir of the same title by Eddie Huang. It’s quite different than the book, which I quite liked and hope to teach in a future Asian American literature or popular culture class, but it’s rather funny, though not unproblematic. It’s definitely not as angry as the book. Overall, it’s refreshing to see an Asian American family on TV that isn’t completely reductive or stereotypical. I’m probably most excited for Orphan Black to return next month. Absolutely one of the best sci-fi shows on right now. So fierce.
What advice do you have for Whittier College students?
Be bold. Ask questions. Do your research. Make allies. Make friends.
Timidity won’t get you far very far, and putting yourself out there, as scary as it feels, is important for making your name and your work visible. I’m pretty shy and modest by nature, and every time I’ve given a presentation or a talk, I’m afraid about reactions and negative feedback. I’ve definitely gotten my fair share of backlash, but when I’ve been questioned, I just make sure I did the research so I can back up my arguments. People like numbers and statistics. Do the work, give it to them and make sure it’s irrefutable.
If that fails: have strong allies. These moments of distress have always proved fruitful for me because they’ve also helped me to identify my friends, supporters, and allies. It’s offered support, opened doors for me, and allowed me to do the same for others. We’ve all heard of the “old boy’s network,” and we know that if you’re a woman, a person of color, queer, or non-normative in any other way, you’re at a disadvantage. Knowing this, it’s so important for any of us who get a leg up to help make the way for others who follow a bit smoother. We’ve got to help each other to survive and flourish.
Oh, and never be afraid to ask questions! You’re surrounded by people with a range of life and professional experience who are willing to help you, to mentor you, and who are invested in your success. As your questions and learn from them!
What Wardman Library resource/service would you recommend to students?
Use our DigLibArts Collaboratory (main floor of Wardman Library with all the funky tables and screens) to collaborate and experiment! Consider encouraging faculty members allow you time to do group projects in there. We offer a flexible space and expertise (myself, Sonia, and our Student Tech Liaisons) to help you to develop your work. We can help you find ways to make interactive and critical projects that go beyond the essay, which is, of course, also very important.
Be a part of the conversation! Join our Facebook group, follow us on Twitter, and bookmark our blog! We announce a lot of really cool events like Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, games studies talks, film screenings, etc. that are of interest to students and it’s the best way to be in the know.
Thank you, Anne, for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us. Next week, we will bring you an interview with the Club 88 Manager and Media Coordinator, Chris Greenwood.
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