Tom Wilson invited me to speak at the Alabama Digital Humanities Center in November to my great glee. I had a chance to dive back into the Beardstair Project and graduate course under the guise of teaching collaboration in DH courses (presented Nov. 11, 2014). Special thanks to Emma Wilson for shepherding me around so I could experience her Day in DH.
In 2011, I resolved to reveal my Digital Humanities roots to my students in a more explicit way. But, first, that meant clearly defining the foundation of Digital Humanities, an amorphous field that had become a catch-all for anyone doing anything remotely “digi-savvy” in the Humanities. Armed with Stephen Ramsay’s notion for “screwing around” and experimenting with teaching and assessing collaborative practices, the result became a long-standing, on-going, student-driven project that allowed both graduate and undergraduate students to succeed, fail, and collaborate on a real-world digital project, The Beard-Stair Project. (See below for narratives about the initial guerrilla project and eventual programmatic validation as a graduate course.) By providing students with the opportunity to craft the entire project, from initial Humanistic inquiry to public digital scholarship, the Beard-stair Project illustrates the value of diverse collaboration, diverse approaches to teaching, pedagogy, interaction with physical and digital humanities resources, and the role that special collections and archival programs can play in supporting the growth of Digital Humanities study, research, and scholarship.