To: all chairs and directors, all current and former members of MITH
From: Dean James F. Harris
Re: Appointment of Professor Neil Fraistat as Director of MITH
June 7, 2006
I am happy to announce the appointment of Professor Neil Fraistat as Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) beginning July 1, 2006. Neil is a Professor in the Department of English specializing in the Romantic era, textual scholarship, and digital studies. A recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Keats-Shelley Association and the Fredson Bowers Memorial Prize from the Society for Textual Scholarship, Neil is well known internationally for his scholarly editions of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poetry and for his work as co-founder and co-general editor of Romantic Circles , an award-winning scholarly website, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, that is published by the University of Maryland and devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture.
Beyond his work on Romantic Circles, Neil has been an active and highly visible presence in the field of Digital Humanities, creating electronic resources, publishing on such topics as electronic editing, MOOs, and computer gaming; giving talks and running numerous sessions at major conferences; and sitting on the advisory board of several major electronic projects and journals, including Literary and Linguistic Computing, the premier journal in the field. He has just begun a second five-year term on the Executive Council of the Association for Computers and the Humanities, the field’s key professional organization. Neil has also served on an impressively large number of committees at every level within the university. He has been associated with the Dean’s Task Force on New Technologies and the Humanities (1993), with ARHU’s Committee on New Technologies, 1994-1996, and 2002-2004 (as Chair), and with MITH as both Chair of its Internal Advisory Board (1999-2005) and as Acting Director this past year.
Since its founding in 1999 through a major Challenge Grant from the NEH and under the directorship of Martha Nell Smith, MITH has become one of the most dynamic and exciting units on campus, as well as one of the most renowned institutes of its kind in the world. I fully share the Search Committee’s confidence in Neil’s ability to build successfully upon MITH’s great strengths in leading it to a yet higher level of excellence. The coming year provides an auspicious start: MITH will become the new headquarters of the Electronic Literature Organization, the premier professional organization for scholars and authors of born digital literature; it will add as Resident Fellows Merle Collins and Angel David Nieves, both working on fascinating multimedia archives involving African culture and history; and it will have as its new Networked Fellow the acclaimed hypertext fiction writer and conceptual artist, Shelley Jackson, who will be working on Skin: A Mortal Work of Art.
My thanks to the Search Committee ably chaired by Juan Uriagereka and composed of Ralph Bauer, Catherine Zabriskie, Ellen Borkowski, Allen Stairs, Roberta Lavine and Patricia Cossard.