I. Social Media Engagement
Scholars in the field known as the “digital humanities” are, not surprisingly, active online. Many share their scholarship through blogs or social networking sites such as Twitter. In the Digital Humanities Compendium (which drives Digital Humanities Now), you will find lists of notable blogs and Twitter feeds. You must choose at least two blogs and at least four Twitter feeds to follow during our course. You should bring the insights you glean from these sources (insights into digital humanities theory and methodology, insights into a historical period, insights into the technologies of text) into our course discussions, and you should reference specific posts when composing your class blog entries. Midway through the semester you will compose a short (3-4 page), informal paper in which you describe how your chosen social media feeds have influenced your thinking about our course discussions.
II. Course blog
Throughout the term, we will engage with the ideas of the course through public writing on a course blog. Blogs only work when sustained by an energetic (and perhaps even chaotic) community. You should both post your own written responses to our class and comment on the posts of your colleagues. Think of this as an evolving research paper. It has the same importance and weight and seriousness.
- Your written responses should reflect on our course readings, in-class discussions, the scholarly feeds that you follow, and your own experiences working on your course project. Posts should be the rough equivalent of a 1-page, single-spaced paper, and should demonstrate your understanding of course topics. When you discuss a particular course text, you should quote and cite that text appropriately. You should also use your posts to develop questions you would like to address in class. As the blog develops, you may also want to refer back to previous posts: your own or your classmates’.
- Your blog comments should directly engage with the content of your colleagues’ posts. These can be short and informal, but shouldn’t be flippant. What points do you find compelling? What further questions does the post raise for you? How did our class discussion change the way you thought about the post?
Blog posts are due each Wednesday by 6pm. There are 15 weeks in the semester. You may not submit (for credit) more than one blog post per week, though you’re free to write more if you wish. You are responsible for writing 10 posts and at least 20 comments during the term. You should not wait to start writing posts and commenting; I assign only 10 posts to give you some flexibility during the semester.
III. Humanities Lab Reports
During most lab days, we’ll be working through a specific activity, either individually or in groups. You’ll be responsible for completing these activities, usually posting your results on the course blog.
IV. Collaborative Evaluation Paper
This assignment was designed collaboratively and/or in tandem by Brian Croxall and Dr. Cordell. The inspiration came from Dr. Cordell’s proposed DH syllabus. Most of the current language and arrangement is Dr. Croxall’s (since he’s teaching first). All criticisms should be directed at him.
For this assignment you will work with a partner to investigate an important digital humanities project and present it to our class. In a three- to four-page, collaboratively written paper, you will consider the project’s methodologies, innovations, interpretive power, and design. You will then give a joint, 3-minute-20-second presentation to help the class understand the projects’ contributions both to its discipline (e.g. literature, history, philosophy) and to the interdisciplinary field of the digital humanities.
You may choose to work on one of the following projects. However, only one group will be able to work on a particular project. Please use this spreadsheet to sign up for your project.
Possible Projects to evaluate:
- African Origins http://www.african-origins.org/
- Civil War Washington http://civilwardc.org/
- Envisaging the West, http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/
- For Better for Verse, http://prosody.lib.virginia.edu/
- Global Shakespeares, http://globalshakespeares.org/
- Heart of Rachel, http://www.stanford.edu/dept/english/cgi-bin/humComp/2005Gp1/
- History Engine, http://historyengine.richmond.edu/
- Interactive Nolli Map, http://nolli.uoregon.edu/
- In Transition: Selected Poems by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhovern, http://www.lib.umd.edu/digital/transition
- Looking for Whitman, http://lookingforwhitman.org/
- The Map of Early Modern London, http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/
- Mapping the Republic of Letters, https://republicofletters.stanford.edu/
- Melville’s Marginalia Online, http://melvillesmarginalia.org/
- The Mind is a Metaphor http://metaphors.lib.virginia.edu/
- NINES, http://www.nines.org/
- On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces, http://benfry.com/traces/
- Perseus Digital Library, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/
- Preserving Virtual Worlds, http://pvw.illinois.edu/pvw/
- Railroads and the Making of Modern America, http://railroads.unl.edu/
- Rossetti Archive, http://www.rossettiarchive.org/
- The Sonneteer, http://cocoon.lis.illinois.edu:8080/lis590dpl/wapiez/Sonneteer/
- September 11 Digital Archive http://911digitalarchive.org/
- Shakespeare Quartos Archive, http://www.quartos.org/
- Speech Accent Archive, http://accent.gmu.edu/
- Transcribe Bentham, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/transcribe-bentham/
- Valley of the Shadow, http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/
- Voyages, http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces
As you investigate your project, write your paper, and prepare your presentations, you must consider the following questions:
- What are the project’s strengths and weaknesses?
- In John Unsworth’s talk, “Scholarly Primitives,” Unsworth argues that all scholarship makes use of the same basic tools, such as discovering, annotating, and comparing. In what way does your project meet or fail to meet these basic scholarly needs?
Other important questions you may consider:
- What assumptions have been made in designing the project? (What are their sources? How is the site designed? etc.)
- What is the project’s primary audience? Is it addressed to other researchers, students, or both?
- How easy is it to use the site / tool?
- The big one: what does this project contribute to the larger body of knowledge in its disciplinary field? In the interdisciplinary field of digital humanities?
As you are doing this assignment, you should absolutely consider contacting the editor(s) / project lead(s) about their work, especially if you are having difficulty with something. You will find that most people in digital humanities are very willing to discuss their work with those who are interested in it (even if that interest is compelled by an assignment).
You and your partner will prepare a short presentation about your project. Since you chose the project, it will already be something that is interesting to you, and that should make for some interesting presentations. But just to be sure things stay interesting, here are some rules.
- You will have exactly 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
- Your presentation will use PowerPoint, but you’ll be restricted to 10 slides. No more, no less. (It’s a half-Pecha Kucha!)
- Your presentation must also follow the 1/1/5 rule. That is, you must have at least one image per slide, you can use each exact image only once, and you should add no more than five words per slide.
- You can find images by searching Flickr for Creative-Commons licensed pictures.
- You must both present for approximately half the presentation. I won’t be timing this with a stopwatch, but you should generally each share half of the burden.
It is not the intent of the presentation for you to tell us everything that you say in the written paper nor to show us every last feature of the site. Instead, you should be looking to give us an overview of the site, as well as its strengths and weaknesses. When designing the presentation, think SHORT, INFORMAL, and CREATIVE. The idea here is that the form’s restriction (paradoxically) promotes this creativity.
V. Digital Project
Central to this course will be a digital project that you will develop using materials (e.g. letters, photographs, books) from the Center for Norbertine Studies’ archives. You will choose one of four types of projects:
- A TEI-encoded edition of a short text or set of texts
- An Omeka exhibit of a set of archival-quality images
- An interpretive geospatial exhibit
- Some other fascinating project idea (that you discuss with me well in advance of beginning)
Whichever project type you choose, you will also write the equivalent of a 8 page paper that explains your process and the scholarly value of your work to a broader audience. This writing may be presented in a non-traditional format, as accompanying text to your finished project. We will begin developing these projects by the end of the first week, and will work steadily on them throughout the term. You will regularly present your progress on your project to the class during our humanities lab sessions.
Social Media Engagement: 10%
Course Blog: 20%
Lab Reports: 10%
Collaborative Evaluation Paper: 10%
Collaborative Evaluation Presentation: 10%
Digital Project: 40%