Day of DH 2020: #showusyourMUG

Most years, this week would see us scrambling to get our grading done in order to prepare for one of our favourite events of the year: the DH@Guelph Summer Workshops. This year, as we all know, things are a bit different. The workshops, like so many other things, are cancelled. We’re not working inside the lovely home we’ve made for ourselves in THINC Lab (housed in the McLaughlin Library at the University of Guelph). We’re not able to engage with our fellows, laugh with our undergraduate research assistants, or engage in the casual conversations that help make us a community. We’re also not able to host the lovely folks that visit us to share their wisdom at the workshops, to learn DH methods and skills from their peers, or to participate in building the great community that joins us for the annual weeklong event.

Instead, we meet online. We are busy with the start-up of the LINCS Project, with the organization of the (now virtual) CSDH-SCHN 2020 Conference, and getting ready to train a great group of Summer URAs in everything from data clean-up to ontology building. We’re lucky, because we are able to see the faces of our wonderful collaborators, stacked Brady-Bunch-style on our screens, brought together from all over the world by the wonder of the web.

As anyone who has attended the DH@Guelph Summer Workshops well knows, one of the highlights of the week occurs right at the start: before the warm greetings, before you’ve grabbed a coffee or tea, and for some, even before you’ve unpacked your bags. What is this event, one might wonder? This is the HANDING OUT OF THE MUGS.

a set of teal mugs in a pottery studio
a set of teal mugs in a pottery studio
Our beautiful mugs at Chris’ studio!

You see, one of us (Susan) is a potter, and knows a good piece of work when she sees it. The other (Kim) just appreciates a large mug of coffee! Through the workshops, we support a wonderful local potter in Guelph, Chris Hierlihy, who makes a mug for every registrant at the workshop, as well as those that support the event. At registration on day one, participants “ooh” and “ahh” over the mugs, that are stamped “DH at Guelph” and have a very cool combination of technology (telephone poles) with a wide variety of objects (everything from rabbits and praying manti to dinosaurs — we’ll let you guess the favourites!). People often get to know others through making mug trades, and we always get asked where they are made and if they can get another.

Three mugs surrounded by yellow daffodils.
Three mugs surrounded by yellow daffodils.
Kim’s Collection of DH@Guelph mugs

To us, the mugs reflect the importance of the local and of community, and they resonate with the DH regard for both DIY and the technical skill that underlies an apparently effortless combination of form and function. And they are also about the broader community that makes DH so special, and we love it when we catch a random glimpse of someone’s mug on their bookshelf or in their hand during a video call.

So, on #dayofDH2020, we’re asking you to help fill a void. We’re missing our THINC Lab family, we’re missing our larger DH@Guelph community, and we are really going to miss welcoming folks to the University of Guelph in two weeks time. If you’ve visited us before, and you have a mug, please share a photo of yourself with it, to our Twitter account @DHatGuelph, with two hashtags: #dayofdh2020 and #showusyourMUG.

We can’t wait to see your smiling faces :)


Kim Martin and Susan Brown


p.s. If you too are feeling DH@Guelph withdrawal and want to expand your pottery collection by way of compensation, check out @chris_hierlihy on Instagram or email him at chrishierlihypottery@gmail.com.

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A collection of thoughts on the world of Digital Humanities by members of the DH@Guelph community and THINC Lab.

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