My year (from August 2012 to May 2013) as a Digital Culture Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bergen has been the most enjoyable and accomplished in my academic career.
The Digital Culture program at the University of Bergen is home to leading scholars in the field of electronic literature— Scott Rettberg, Jill Walker Rettberg, and Daniel Apollon (among others)— who have created a vibrant environment for research. They have leveraged grants (from HERA, Erasmus, Fulbright, to name a few) to create pipelines for PhD students and scholars from around the world to visit Bergen, contribute, and grow. They have brought several US scholars for short visits via the Fulbright Specialist Program, and two Fulbright Scholars for an academic year. Davin Heckman preceeded me in this capacity, and Judd Morrissey will be the next scholar to dedicate a full academic year to teaching and research at UiB.
In order to better understand how special an opportunity the Fulbright Scholarship is, I must provide some context on my normal workload at my home institution. As an Associate Professor of English at UPR: Mayagüez, my regular workload is teaching 4 sections per semester, usually a combination of service courses, introductory and intermediate level courses in poetry, with occasional undergraduate and graduate special topics courses. Electronic literature is a topic that I weave into literature courses and have made the focus of my special topics courses. In other words, my teaching allows only an introductory level of discussion about my specialization and research happens on my own time: late nights, early mornings, and on vacations.
To come to an important research hub in my field and focus 100% of my work to teaching and research in my specialization is priceless. The teaching load consists of 3 courses for the whole year— all e-lit courses at introductory, intermediate, and graduate levels— which means that the preparation, instruction, and grading all keep my mind focused on my topic, allowing me to test theories, understand the reception of these works, and advance my research. The rest of the time is for my research, which is enriched by weekly meetings of digital culture and electronic literature research groups, presentations, forums, roundtable discussions, and a wealth of visiting scholars and PhD students.
As a result, my scholarly productivity is at a career-high level, with record number of professional presentations and publications. During this year, I have traveled for professional presentations to: Denver, Puerto Rico, Spain, Slovakia, Scotland, England, and Norway. I have published four peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and am collaborating with other academics in the field on new articles. The most important accomplishment is that I have been able to expand my daily scholarly blogging project, titled I ♥ E-Poetry, (http://iloveepoetry.com). Since arriving to Norway, I have written 284 entries (approximately 71,000 words), achieved the goal of writing 500 daily postings on works of electronic literature, received the honor of being the 1st runner up in the 2012 Digital Humanities Awards, and integrated my project with the ELMCIP Knowledge Base. I am preparing a book manuscript based on the completed first phase of project, and am developing a new phase to expand its scope. To best appreciate this, I have represented my presentations, publications, interviews, and other work in the following visualization:
A year in Norway with my wife and two small children has also been a great adventure. We have delighted in the rhythms of life in Bergen, enjoying its little markets, festivals, and other outdoor events. A ferry ride and a long weekend in Flåm gave us the chance to experience some of the coastal and inland beauty of this glacier-carved country. We experienced Norwegian hytte culture by spending a week in January with some friends in a cabin in Ustaoset. We also took the opportunity to travel to Spain and Italy for a couple of weeks in December, exploring Barcelona and Tuscany. Our children, aged 5 and 3, are aware of the world outside of Puerto Rico and the United States in a very tangible way. They have become global citizens at an early age.
I am very grateful for this opportunity to develop into an internationally known scholar. My special thanks to Scott Rettberg and Jill Walker Rettberg for the opportunity and for being such wonderful hosts in Norway. I look forward to sharing my experience as a Fulbright Scholar with my colleagues and friends and encourage them to participate in this remarkable program. And scholars of electronic literature and other aspects of digital culture interested in applying to become a Fulbright Scholar at UiB can apply via this link by August 1, every year.