Will Fenton

Will Fenton and the Digital Paxton Archive

In the latest issue of Common-place: The Journal of Early American Life (17.4), Fordham English doctoral candidate Will Fenton discusses his digital humanities project, the Digital Paxton (digitalpaxton.org), a digital archive, scholarly edition, and teaching platform dedicated to Pennsylvania's first major pamphlet.


Framing his project in terms of the print edition on which scholars have relied for almost 60 years (John Raine Dunbar's The Paxton Papers), Will discusses how the digital supports a more capacious--and less definitive--critical edition: "Tallying 400 pages, The Paxton Papers is already a formidable print edition, and one which continues to support research. But what else might we choose to include in twenty-first-century Paxton Papers? What if we weren’t bound, as Dunbar was, by the constraints of the codex format? The answer may not be a definitive edition for the Paxton event, so much as a tool with which contributors may magnify and telescope records, juxtapose them against one another, read them against contexts, and discover new ways of looking at—and beyond—the 1764 pamphlet war." Visit Common-place to read the piece, accompanied by various images from the Digital Paxton archive.


PhD student Will Fenton on Open Peer Review

PhD candidate Will Fenton this week published an article in Inside Higher Ed surveying the argument that humanities scholarship should embrace the practice of open peer review. Fenton quotes Cheryl Ball of West Virginia University, editor of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, describing the humanities as "still stuck in that proprietary single-author non-collaborative model, where scholars are afraid to showcase their research before someone senior has put their stamp of approval on it through the traditional peer review process.” In contrast, Kairos and other journals such as Hybrid Pedagogy are experimenting with more collaborative, open models that may include, for instance, ongoing public revision of a submitted article, in which editors and readers suggest changes and additions to drafts after the piece is published in draft form online.  

It's a thought-provoking article--read it here

Participants at the Digital Pedagogy Lab summer institute.

Participants at the Digital Pedagogy Lab summer institute.

PhD Student's Prize-Winning Digital Humanities Project in the News

English PhD student Will Fenton was recently featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer for his Digital Humanities project, Digital Paxton. The op-ed, which draws parallels between the 1764 pamphlet war and contemporary media and politics, highlights Will’s digital archive and critical edition of the pamphlet war. Here's an excerpt from the story:

A Ph.D. candidate in English, Fenton worked over the past year to create the Digital Paxton project (digitalpaxton.org), a free resource featuring dozens of the pamphlets and cartoons, as well as accompanying essays and transcriptions.
For him, the contemporary parallels are clear.
"The term elite, weaponized in the 2016 election, figured heavily in the Paxton debate," said Fenton, while "many pamphleteers stoked debate anonymously, in much the same way that provocateurs hide behind Twitter handles."
"In the context of the Brexit vote and the rise of right-wing nationalist movements across the West, [we] would do well to study this incident and to critically engage pamphleteers' zero-sum views of race, class, and cosmopolitanism," he said.

Fenton’s project also recently won first prize in the NYCDH Graduate Student Digital Project Awards, for which he’ll be giving a talk at NYCDH Week.


Click here to read the complete article.

PhD Student to Participate in Digital Humanities Summer Institute

Will Fenton, Ph.D. Candidate in English, has been accepted to participate in the New York Metro American Studies Association 2015 Summer Institute on “The Digital City: New Approaches in the Digital Humanities.” According to NYMASA: “This four-day institute seeks to enhance innovative research, teaching, and scholarship in American Studies by creating a dynamic environment for learning about new digital technologies that are transforming teaching, research, scholarly communication, and preservation.”
The project Fenton brings to the institute is an outgrowth of one he conceptualized and presented as a HASTAC scholar last spring: a gamified syllabus for Comp II. Fenton's interest is not so much to integrate video games into the course as it is to apply their pedagogical strategies to the classroom. He aims to integrate peer assessment and contextual feedback; increase student engagement and decentralize class authority; and create a space where students can safely—and generatively—fail. To that end, he has adapted his Comp syllabus using four gamification features: skills, objectives, quests, and points systems. While he is developing his curriculum using several excellent models, Will believes that the NYMASA institute will help him to anticipate logistical challenges before he puts his new curriculum into practice.

Will Fenton on "Teaching the Global 1%"

English PhD student Will Fenton shared his unusual summer teaching experience in a recent article in Inside Higher Education titled "Teaching the Global 1%." At an Institute located in a "four-star resort in a one-street Alpine village" in Switzerland, Fenton brought not just skills, but new ideas and experiences, to his students...and learned a few things himself.

My lessons often failed. Once, I asked students to describe their home bedrooms. Each one took a turn speaking while the others drew illustrations based upon this description. This exercise, which I intended to hone locational vocabulary, failed because students didn’t know how to describe or depict “bedrooms” that occupied multiple rooms and, sometimes, entire floors. On another occasion, I asked students to create a brochure for a dream school. I intended for my students to apply educational vocabulary. Instead, they submitted descriptions of shopping malls, glutted with Gucci, Prada and Boss boutiques.

Click here to read the complete article. Congratulations to Will on the publication of this illuminating and engaging essay.