syllabus

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ENG 697: English Studies and the Digital Humanities

COURSE SYLLABUS: Summer II, 2013

 

Instructor: Shannon Carter, Associate Professor of English

Office Location: HL 119

Office Hours: Mondays, 9-12 (by phone or face-to-face by appointment)

Office Phone: 903-366-1767 (cell; I welcome your texts, too!)

Office Fax: (903) 886.5980

Email Address: shannon.carter@tamuc.edu and cartershannon@gmail.com

http://www.shannoncarter.info

 

COURSE INFORMATION

 

Required Text:

 

Gold, Matthew, ed. Debates in the Digital Humanities.  Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota P, 2012. Print. (free, open-access version available athttp://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/).

 

Additional required readings available at our Zotero Group Library (https://www.zotero.org/groups/english_697-dh/items)

 

Course Description

 

An overview of the concepts, tools, and debates of and within the Digital Humanities (DH), especially as they (can) inform our research and teaching in English studies. No technical background is required.

 

In the Digital Humanities, the focus is neither the digital nor the technology. Instead, our concern is with the humanities themselves. In English studies, we study texts, readers, and writers. The “digital” plays a fundamental role in that focus, as writers and readers are increasingly reliant upon digital tools. Thus, our course readings and various projects invite you to consider the following question from a variety of angles: what does the DH have to offer our various areas of English studies (literary studies, rhetoric and composition studies, English education, etc)?

 

To this end, we’ll explore DH’s potential uses in answering the questions that most interest you as a researcher and teacher. The final project should demonstrate an awareness of the current conversations surrounding DH (what is DH? who is a DHer?) and potential uses for DH in pursuing our discipline’s important work in more meaningful, generative, and perhaps even brand new ways.

 

Course Overview

 

This course will explore the history of the digital humanities, focusing especially on the diverse pioneering projects and core texts that ground this innovative methodological and conceptual approach to scholarly inquiry and teaching.  It will also emphasize ongoing debates in the digital humanities, such as the problem of defining the digital humanities, the question of whether DH has (or needs) theoretical grounding, controversies over new models of peer review for digital scholarship, issues related to collaborative work on digital projects, and the problematic questions surrounding research involving “big data.” Thus, the questions that will drive our work together include the following:

 

  • What is Digital Humanities?
  • What do we mean by “humanities”?
  • What key questions and objects dominate our work in English studies? What might DH enable researchers to visualize, understand, ask, explore, teach, and/or communicate in response to these key questions/objects that would not be possible without DH? (and how?)
  • What is a “text?”
  • What is “digital?”
  • What are multi-modal essays and visual narratives, and why should we care?

Student Learning Objectives

  • students will be able to define and describe the Digital Humanities
  • students will be able to demonstrate an awareness of key debates in the DH
  • students will be able to illustrate meaningful applications for DH in their ongoing work as teachers and scholars
  • students will be able to demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of tools and techniques for digital humanities scholarship
  • students will be able to communicate their ideas using a variety of digital platforms

COURSE PLAN

 

Unit 1: Definitions and Debates in the Digital Humanities (Weeks 1-2)

Objectives: Familiarize yourself with various definitional debates surrounding the digital humanities and arrive at your own working definitions of DH.

 

Unit 2: Exploring and Critiquing Projects (Weeks 3-4)

Objectives: Explore and critique some prominent digital humanities projects. Gain a sense of the field through an analysis of the projects produced under its aegis.

 

Unit 3: Planning and Implementing Projects (Week 5)

Objectives: What (specific) contributions can the Digital Humanities make to your research and/or teaching interests?

 

ASSIGNMENTS AND EVALUATION

 

FORUMS (30%): For the first half of the course, we will hold the bulk of our class discussions in the “Forums” section (see “Forums” tab in eCollege). Our goals for each Forum are to explore the assigned readings, lectures, and other, related elements in meaningful conversation with one another, just as you would in any graduate seminar meeting face-to-face. For that reason, I ask you to keep up with your assigned readings, and post in each assigned forum at least twice—once early in the conversation to get things started and again later in the discussion to keep it moving in meaningful directions.

 

Deadlines: July 9, 11, 15, 18, and 22 (see “Forums” tab in eCollege for prompts and other details)

 

UNIT RESPONSE PAPERS (30%): At the end of the first and second units, you will complete response papers that address key issues raised in the assigned readings, videos, and other related “texts.” Because these Unit 1 and Unit 2 Response Papers are being submitted in the last half of the term, I expect them to be well thought-out, critical, carefully written, and reflect a deep understanding of the texts read and discussed throughout each unit. Your contributions to the Forums throughout the first half of the term will provide much fodder for your response papers later in the term.

 

Due dates: July 25 and August 1, always before midnight. Submit to the “Response Papers” section in eCollege. I will grade them from there, and your classmates will have an opportunity to respond to them as well.

 

Unit 1 Response Paper: Definitions and Debates in the Digital Humanities

Objective: Familiarize yourself with various definitional debates surrounding the digital humanities and arrive at your own working definitions of DH.

 

In this response paper, demonstrate your understanding of the various definitional debates surrounding DH, foregrounding your own working definition of DH as illustrated in select DH projects. In other words, help your readers understand

 

  • what you mean by the “Digital Humanities,”
  • how your definition may be situated within the ongoing definitional debates concerning “What is DH?” and “Who is a digital humanist?,”
  • how the DH project (or projects) you selected serve as a lens for examining that working definition.

 

To this end, you will be expected to make extensive use of the critical texts assigned throughout this unit.

 

Hint: In Unit 2, we will begin a more in-depth exploration of how the DH might benefit your own work as a scholar and/or teacher. For that reason, it would be beneficial to foreground your own specific research and teaching interests as you set up your DH definition and select appropriate examples. (3-5 pages). 

 

 

Unit 2 Response Paper: Exploring and Critiquing DH

Objectives: Explore and critique some prominent digital humanities projects. Gain a sense of the field through an analysis of the projects produced under its aegis.

 

In Unit 1, we built a foundation for better understanding the Digital Humanities. Unit 2 complicates this foundation with specific, theoretically driven examples of DH that may begin to address issues in our discipline that you find most challenging/interesting/significant. You will spend Unit 2 exploring and critiquing various DH projects in preparation for our final project. Thus, for your Unit 2 Response Paper, you should

 

  • focus on an issue or theme that strikes you as key in the texts and projects we’ve explored thus far;
  • select two or three DH projects that seem to address this issue in meaningful, generative, and/or otherwise significant ways;

 

In the response paper itself, you should

  • offer a clear and concise explanation of the issue or theme you have identified, making excellent use of the texts from which you are drawing to identify that important theme (remember to make extensive use of our assigned course materials, especially for this unit!).
  • Next, you should demonstrate the important ways in which these DH projects address the issue or theme you have identified. Though you should make meaningful use of at least two DH projects in your response paper, the bulk of your analysis should rest on just one of these examples. The others serve to ground your analysis in a larger conversation by demonstrating your awareness of related work in the DH.

 

As this is a response paper, I expect quotation from the text and representation from texts throughout the unit—not just one text. Also, be sure that this text shows you are developing a knowledge base that begins with the foundation laid in Unit 1. (5-7 pages). 

 

NOTE: You may use this paper to try out ideas for your final project. In response to Unit 3, the final project should offer a clear and concise summary of the DH projects most relevant to the research and/or teaching agenda you’d most like to pursue. Keep that in mind as you select your projects for the Unit 2 Response Paper. Ideally, you’ll be utilizing these response papers extensively as you prepare your final project.

 

FINAL PROJECT (40%): An annotated bibliography that features DH projects, articles, and related resources on a theme in the DH you have identified as significant. Your response papers (above) should offer a great deal of support in identifying this theme and relevant source materials. The bibliography should include at least 15 sources and an introductory statement (4-7 pages) framing the annotations according to your key arguments and goals.  You should consider this annotated bibliography as a preliminary step in a project you might pursue later. Possibilities include but are not limited to the following: a scholarly project (article, thesis, dissertation), aneducational project (for example, a meaningful unit in an existing course/curriculum, a new course/program, or relevant resources for teachers on a given topic), or even a new DH project (tool, program, etc) that might attract grant funding. Whatever your goals, keep them right in front of you as you prepare your annotated bibliography, and select your sources accordingly. Your introductory statement should make these goals clear, as well as the ways in which the goals and approach address a pressing need in your targeted area.

For additional details and guidance, please visit the “Final Project” tab at eCollege.

 

 

SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7/8 7/9 7/10 7/11 7/12 7/13 7/14
  Forum 1   Forum 1

Forum 2

     
7/15 7/16 7/17 7/18 7/19 7/20 7/21
Forum 2     Forum 3      
7/22 7/23 7/24 7/25 7/26 7/27 7/28
Forum 3     Unit 1 Response Paper (RP)      
7/29 7/30 7/31 8/1 8/2 8/3 8/4
Unit 1 RP(responses)     Unit 2 Response Paper (RP)      
8/5 8/6 8/7 8/8 8/9    
Unit 2 RP(responses)       Final Project    

 

Unit 1: Definitions and Debates in the Digital Humanities (Weeks 1-2)

Objectives: Familiarize yourself with various definitional debates surrounding the digital humanities and arrive at your own working definitions of DH.

 

FORUM

to get the conversation started

to keep the conversation moving

1

post to Forum 1 before midnight, Tues. 7/9 post to Forum 1 before midnight, Thurs. 7/11

2

post to Forum 2 before midnight, Thurs, 7/11 post to Forum 2 before midnight, Mon. 7/15

3

post to Forum 3 before midnight, Thurs, 7/18 post to Forum 3 before midnight, Mon., 7/22

RP

to get the conversation started

to keep the conversation moving

Unit 1

submit to Unit 1 RP before midnight, Thurs,7/25 respond to Unit 1 RP before midnight, Mon,7/29

 

Unit 2: Exploring and Critiquing Projects (Weeks 3-4)

Objectives: Explore and critique some prominent digital humanities projects. Gain a sense of the field through an analysis of the projects produced under its aegis.

RP

to get the conversation started

to keep the conversation moving

Unit 2

submit to Unit 2 RP before midnight, Thurs, 8/1 respond to Unit 2 RP before midnight, Mon,8/5

 

Unit 3: Planning and Implementing Projects (Week 5)

Objectives: What (specific) contributions can the Digital Humanities make to your research and/or teaching interests?

 

  Project

for instructor review

to share with classmates

Final

submit to FP “Dropbox” before midnight, 8/8 submit to FP “Discussion” before midnight, 8/8

 

*Detailed schedule (including readings) available in our course management system.

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