Digital Symposium celebrates creativity of English department
By Sergio Diaz-Silverio
Much of the work that English department students create is accomplished digitally, and Florida State University’s Digital Symposium is a perfect a place to display that work.
The annual symposium hosts a website that is open for viewing the top selected digital works from FSU undergraduate and graduate students. Many of the projects focus on different topics and viewpoints, so the site is a good way to get a variety of perspectives and to get your finger on the pulse of what students in the English department—in addition to students in other majors—are thinking about and producing.
Kathleen Lipham is earning her master’s degree in Rhetoric and Composition at FSU, and she led the process for the curation of the symposium in the spring of 2022. She also is a graduate teaching assistant in the English department.
“My role was mainly as the facilitator,” Lipham explains. “I was responsible for coming up with this year’s symposium theme, sending out information and announcements in regard to the symposium, gathering the individual project nominations and submissions, and curating the online website to display those projects.”
Like many events in the world today, the symposium is still feeling the effects of the pandemic. What used to be an in-person gathering at the Williams Building Digital Studio has transitioned to a digital equivalent.
“The symposium has been an online event since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic,” Lipham says. “Prior to the pandemic, there was an in-person component where students and staff attended presentations in the Digital Studio to view the different digital creations. However, in light of recent events, keeping the symposium digital was the safest way to go about celebrating these works.”
Regardless of these setbacks, though, English faculty members and graduate teaching assistants are dedicated to making sure that the work their students create is recognized. The symposium has been a staple of the English department for 13 years, and the event continues to be a great way to connect students to faculty and even connect students to their peers.
This year’s symposium works to highlight the collaboration between human and non-human actors that help to push projects, ideas, and creations to the next level. Rather than being hesitant about technologies, these digital creations showcase an embrace of the non-human, the technological, the ‘robot.’
— Kathleen Lipham
Each year the symposium switches it up some by choosing a different theme, and that decision is up to the curator. This year, Lipham put the symposium’s focus on technology.
“The theme of this year’s symposium was centered around the human and the non-human,” she elaborates. “In other words, this year’s symposium works to highlight the collaboration between human and non-human actors that help to push projects, ideas, and creations to the next level. Rather than being hesitant about technologies, these digital creations showcase an embrace of the non-human, the technological, the ‘robot.’”
The selection process for the symposium is open, and the goal is to have as many voices and projects available for people to see as possible. Faculty members recommend some of the projects but others are purely submissions.
“The symposium functions on a submission and nomination basis, so each project in the symposium was either nominated by a professor, instructor, or staff member or submitted by the creator themselves,” Lipham says. “The symposium is about celebrating the creativity of FSU’s English department, so all nominations and submissions are always welcome and encouraged.”
The future of the symposium looks bright, and all English department community members’ fingers are crossed to connect in person and for a transition back to an in-person symposium next year.
“We encourage faculty and staff in the English Department to consider submitting some of their student’s work,” Lipham says. “However, you can always reach out to your instructor and see if they are interested in participating in the symposium by submitting student work.”
The 13th-annual Digital Symposium, in collaboration with FSU’s Digital Studio, is currently online at https://digisymposium13.wordpress.com/. Please take time to explore the department’s creativity.
Sergio Diaz-Silverio is an English major, on the editing writing and media track.
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