Kathleen  Thompson

  • Title / Position: Independent Scholar
  • Organization: University of Virginia (sort of)
  • Twitter: @rusalkat

Librarian in transition with an eye on instructional technology and bringing people together. Research interests are in 21st-century Russian emigre literature, 3D printing for the greater good, and online scholarly resources.

  • Dubious digital dissertating?


    Hi all!

    My name is Kathleen Thompson and I’m a PhD student in Russian language and literature here at UVA. I’m writing about 21st-century Russian-American authors who were born in Russia and emigrated to the U.S. (usually with their parents) in childhood, so my work focuses a lot on transcending borders and movement and fluidity of medium.

    I took Intro to the Digital Liberal Arts with Rafael Alvarado here two years ago and loved it; I have only a very basic grounding in DH, but I’m fascinated with the very idea of it, and I really want to be able to apply it to my work somehow. For that class, we each had to build our own WordPress site on a particular topic – mine was a digital repository for one of the authors I’m studying – and that gave me an idea: why not nudge my dissertation towards the digital? Why not start a conversation that’s immediately accessible to more than just my small committee and anyone wandering around our library stacks checking spine titles for something interesting?

    Slavic studies is sort of a dinosaur in that it’s slow to embrace change, and most of the people in it who are doing online work (blogs, mostly) are politics and history scholars. Literature has a very small presence on the web; the UVA library does have a new and fantastic online collection of contemporary Russian literature, but I want to add to that. Pursuant to that, I want to explore the idea of the digital dissertation itself: what does it entail? What format is acceptable? How can we best make older work digitally consumable? Is a digital dissertation even viable/cromulent/workable in academia today? If you’re on a dissertation committee, would you be willing to work with one, or would you strike it outright? How do we vet them?

    I’ll probably add more questions as I think of them, but this is already over 300 words for a start!

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