Project Name: The Writing Studies Tree
Grantee: Benjamin Miller and Amanda Licastro
Funding Cycle: 2014-2015
Project Status: In progress
About the Project
Disciplinary dynamics are essential to understand because they influence the many ways we signal the value of academic work, including admissions, hiring, tenure, and promotion. The Writing Studies Tree – an online, open-access, interactive database of individual scholars, educational institutions, and the disciplinary movements that connect them – offers an “academic genealogy” for the field of writing studies that serves as a model for visualizing the social history of humanities disciplines. Through a fixed data structure that gives open editing privileges to thousands of members, the site aggregates, visualizes, and recombines data, enabling us to discover large-scale patterns and movements, and thus to map the collaborative interpersonal paths by which a discipline emerges and matures.
Moreover, by crowdsourcing disciplinary self-study and trusting site members to curate the archive, the WST encourages users to see themselves not just as individuals, but rather as members of an evolving network of scholars who contribute to the collective project of knowledge-making within the field. In its fourth year, the WST aims to expand its team to include emerging scholars in the field working within CUNY, as well as to formalize partnerships with national professional organizations to ensure the perpetuity of the project.