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Generous Thinking: Universities, the Commons, and the Public Good

Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick presents to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees on September 11, 2020.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English. She received her B.A. and M.F.A from Louisiana State University, and her PhD from New York University, after which she began her career as an assistant professor of English and media studies at Pomona College. Her first book, The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television, was published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2006, but the experience of publishing that book led her to focus her subsequent research on the ways that new digital networks might influence the development of scholarly publishing. In 2011, she published her second book, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, with NYU Press. That same year, she joined the senior staff of the Modern Language Association – the largest scholarly society in the humanities – as its inaugural director of scholarly communication. During her time at the MLA, she served as managing editor of PMLA and other MLA publications, and she oversaw the development of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook.

Professor Fitzpatrick joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 2017, where she has worked with colleagues in the College of Arts & Letters and the MSU Libraries to establish MESH, a research and development group focused on the future of digital scholarly communication. Her most recent book, Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2019, and she is project director of Humanities Commons, an open-access, open-source network serving more than 24,000 scholars and practitioners across the humanities and around the world. She is president of the Association of Computers and the Humanities, and she serves on the boards of directors of the Educopia Institute and of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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