Monday, July 27, 2009

Academic Email Lists

A recent article in the online Chronicle of Higher Education made me think about academic listservs and their uses. Some scholars believe they've ceased to be very useful, while others say they're indispensable.
The question here, however, is how to use these lists in our teaching. Most of our undergrad students probably don't need to be subscribing to academic lists such as H-ArtHist (especially since so much of the traffic is in German or announces conferences taking place in Europe in a couple of days' time). But the undergrads who are headed for grad school, and certainly students who are beginning graduate work, ought to be learning about these lists. H-ArtHist is a start, because it is purely art-historical, but it is extremely broad and will not immediately strike most students as useful--it is geared mainly to scholars who already have a PhD, and to some extent to the advanced grad student.
But since art history intersects with other history, our students should be encouraged to explore the other history and humanities lists that relate to their research interests. Many of these lists are lively, and have discussions of particular books or topics. H-Net is one of the best places to locate such lists, but many other lists also exist and are just a bit harder to find.

Comments, please?


Travis Nygard said...

I concur with Karla that H-net is an amazing resource. I subscribe to several of their offerings.

I will also describe a few of the best email lists that I am on for art historians, which are not on H-net.

The American Art History Discussion List (AmArt-l) has many members and is very friendly.

The museum professionals' discussion list (Museum-l) is great for anything object-related.

The Queer Caucus for Art Discussion List (queerart), has good discussion of sexuality in art.

The Radical Art/Art History List (Rahl), is great for learning about opportunities and news.

Some of the art historians studying ancient Mesoamerica haunt the Aztlan list of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, which is also good for anything archaeological.

Visual culture folks formerly had a list at NYU, but it has now been replaced by a blogging community:

I think that there should be another visual culture email list, as it serves a different purpose than blogging. Would anyone like to start one with me on H-net?

I would love to learn about more email lists hosted outside of H-net. I hear that the Renaissance folks have a good one, for example, but I do not know the details. Are there good lists for modern and contemporary folk? What about for material culture studies and the decorative arts?

Please tell us where the good stuff is!


Ben Lima said...

Personally, I'm surprised that more of these mailing lists haven't migrated to the web-blog-RSS format. Advantages of this would include:

1) Announcements make it into Google instead of just the inboxes of subscribers. Also, the website then becomes a central authoritative source for interested parties who may not have the time or opportunity to make it past the subscription gatekeeping process.

2) Interested parties can read (i.e. through an RSS feed) without deluging the e-mail inbox.

3) Readers can comment on announcements/posts, also without cluttering the inbox.

Overall, blog-like websites with RSS feeds would be less like closed circles for initiates, and more like the broader "Web 2.0." There would be more dialogue and less obligation to either delete or save/file a constant stream of messages. RSS is one of the most useful information-management technologies available and is perfect for academic use.