Dorothy Kim Visits UMW to Speak about Race, Gender, and Digital Harassment

On March 21st at 4pm in the Digital Auditorium, scholar and activist Dorothy Kim will be giving a talk entitled “Labor and Risk in Public Scholarship: Race, Gender, and Digital Harassment” as part of our Digital Liberal Arts series.

Dorothy Kim teaches Medieval Literature at Vassar College. She is the medieval editor for the Orland Project 2.0 and can be followed @dorothyk98. She was named by Diverse: Issues in Higher Ed 2015 Emerging Scholar under 40. The talk will address the dog whistle of “free speech” now used in attacks on university faculty as a way for the alt-right to gain access to college campuses. It will consider my own case as a clear incitement to violence as it followed an established pattern set by Milo Yiannopolous during #Gamergate. It will also discuss the rise and visibility of academic white supremacy as it has become a conduit for white supremacist ideology to infiltrate the academy.

Dorothy Kim has been attacked, repeatedly, online for speaking out against White Supremacy, sexism, and racism in academia generally and in her field, Medieval Studies, more specifically. But she still continues to speak out — directly, forcefully, publicly. These issues she addresses, in Medieval Studies, in academia, in Digital Humanities, in politics, are issues we are being increasingly confronted with as members of the scholarly community. Issues that, as a WOC, she and many others, have been experiencing directly for years.

Her work (and the work of many others) is a much-needed wake-up call for those of us who have moved through the world and through academia without having to constantly and continually justify our existence, our presence, our scholarship. It is also a wake-up call to how we can be complicit in maintaining and even protecting the racism and sexism baked into the systems of higher education. In a recent piece, Teaching Medieval Studies in a Time of White Supremacy, Kim states:

Let us be crystal clear here—medieval studies is intimately entwined with white supremacy and has been so for a long time. Feel free to ask historians of 19th-century Confederate history, the KKK, and the Nazis. They will produce reams of bibliography, material culture, documents, images, etc. for your perusal. Let us be even clearer on this second point: white supremacy is not fringe. This is not a peripheral, tiny subculture problem. They are mainstream—how many can we count in the White House and the current US administration right now (even if Bannon has been fired)?

Kim keeps up an active social media presence on Twitter, amplifying marginalized voices and resources, always aware of the literal dangers of this digital presence. She practices what she preaches in her writing, her talks, and her digital presence. We’re excited to welcome her to campus. Our hope is that her words provoke meaningful and important discussions within our community.

A poster for Digital Liberal Arts speaker, Dorothy Kim

Featured Image by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash