About Praxis

The Praxis Program is a project of the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia Library. In its first two pilot years (2011-2013), it was generously funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Scholarly Communication Institute. Praxis is now fully supported by the University of Virginia Library.

Praxis is a radical re-imagining of the annual teaching and training we offer in the Scholars’ Lab, and is meant to complement our work over the past seven years with Scholars’ Lab Graduate Fellows in Digital Humanities.

The Praxis Program funds a team of six University of Virginia graduate students from a variety of disciplines to apprentice with us each academic year. Under the guidance of Scholars’ Lab faculty and staff, they design and create a full-fledged digital humanities project or software tool. The first two cohorts of Praxis worked on Prism, a platform for “crowd-sourcing” textual analysis, visualization, and humanities interpretation. The third and forth Praxis cohorts re-imagined and re-created a defunct University of Virginia SpecLab project, the Ivanhoe Game. The fifth Praxis cohort explored time by sonifying data, and their resultant work was called ClockWork. The sixth cohort developed text analysis methods for examining the social media ecologies of the Kardashian family, producing Dash-Amerikan. Follow our projects page for more information about past and current projects.

Recognizing that up-to-date methodological training is often absent or catch-as-catch-can for humanities graduate students, we see the early years of the Praxis Program as an opportunity to experiment with an action-oriented curriculum live and in public. We situate our program in a larger conversation about the changing demands of the humanities in a digital age.

To that end, and with the support of the Scholarly Communication Institute, we have also forged an international Praxis Network of model programs taking different approaches to the problem of methodological training in the humanities.

The Praxis Program aims to equip knowledge workers for emerging faculty positions and alternative academic careers at a moment in which new questions can be asked and new systems built. We share our evolving curriculum and our staff and students alike are blogging about their experience.

We invite you to follow our work in progress, and to cheer on this year’s cohort of thoughtful digital scholars and scholar-practitioners, as they become comfortable designing effective user experiences; writing and working with open source code; engaging broad audiences; managing teams and budgets; and theorizing their work within the rich tradition of humanities computing.