Professor of English & Digital Studies | University of Maryland — College Park
with affiliations in the Department of African-American Studies, the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, &
African-American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHUM)
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)
PhD, M.Phil., M.A. – Columbia University : English and Comparative Literature | B.A. – Washington University
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Professor of English, Amherst College, with affiliations in
the departments of Black Studies & Film and Media Studies
Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Amherst College
Director, Five College Digital Humanities
Parham’s current teaching and research projects focus on texts and technologies that problematize assumptions about time, space, and bodily materiality. She is particularly interested in how such terms share histories of increasing complexity in literary and cultural texts produced by African Americans, and how they enable experimental approaches to digital humanities, electronic narrative, and technology studies. Recent examples of this work include “Sample | Signal | Strobe: Haunting, Social Media, and Black Digitality,” and the digital-interactive scholarly essays “Breaking, dancing, making in the machine” and .break .dance, which is also anthologized in the Electronic Literature Collection (ELC4) and was a 2021 honorable mention for the N. Katherine Hayles Award from the Electronic Literature Organization. She is currently at work on Black Haints in the Anthropocene, a book-length digital-interactive narrative concerning memory, digitality, and environmental experience, and ConvocationAR, an XR-driven humanities-computing project.
Parham holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and is the author of Haunting and Displacement in African-American Literature and Culture, The Princeton Review’s African-American Student’s Guide to College, co-editor with John Drabinski of Theorizing Glissant: Sites and Citations, and the author, designer, and/or programmer for numerous other essays, journal issues, crowdsourced arts experiments, and digital projects. Recent projects include Material Conditions 01, co-curated with Cassandra Hradil and Andrew W. Smith for the 2022 Wrong Biennale, and a two-issue “Black DH” edition of Reviews in DH, co-edited with Aleia Brown and Trevor Muñoz.
For 2022-23, Parham serves as a UMD Leader-in-Residence for the Breaking the M.O.L.D. Initiative, which “aims to develop a diverse set of leaders… shaped by arts and humanities scholarly values and distinct skills.” Prior to coming to UMD, Parham was Professor of English and Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Amherst College, and a former director of Five College Digital Humanities.
Currently I teach classes focusing on African-American literary and cultural studies, modern American popular culture, and technologies and representation. I generally teach in one of two modes, either working to train students to use the insights of intersectionality, media theory, and decolonial thinking to reconcile social and historical concerns with the techniques of literary hermeneutics, or helping them to critique and also to produce across different kinds of media, with an emphasis on a range of digital humanities techniques. In both kinds of classes I emphasize close attention to textual and contextual nuance, the development of clear, concise argumentation, and attentiveness to the impact of media form on expression and dissemination.
Classes I have taught in recent years include a lecture and production class on Spike Lee (co-taught w/ John Drabinski), Girlpower!, a digital humanities class focused on gender, feminism, and popular culture, Ghosts in Shells, which is a seminar on passing and the posthuman, and a seminar on space and time in Toomer, Faulkner, and Morrison. I also teach hybridized theory and practice courses in the digital humanities and on video games.
I have taught at Amherst College since 2001. Before that I taught for several years at Hunter College, and also taught high school students through Upward Bound (at Columbia’s Double Discovery Center).
Board of Directors, Mass Humanities (2014 – 2017); Board of Directors, Amherst Cinema Arts Center (2005 – 2013)
Some Awards and Honors
Huntington Library Research Fellowship; Amherst College Faculty Research Award Program; Mellon Foundation teaching innovation grants; Senior Sabbatical Fellowship, Amherst College; Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow, W. E. B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research (The Hutchins Center), Harvard University; Miner Crary Sabbatical Research Fellowship, Amherst College; Mellon-Mays Predoctoral and Doctoral Grants; Woodrow Wilson Travel & Research Grant; Residency Award, School of Criticism and Theory; Marjorie Hope Nicholson Fellowship, Columbia University; magna cum laude, Washington University
Modern Language Association (MLA); American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA); American Studies Association (ASA); Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA); Digital Games Research Association;