Commonplace Books: An Assignment

As we are approaching the runway for our final class sessions, I’m getting to see much of the work that my Digital Dickens students have been doing all semester. We’re working through our Omeka Exhibits on Bleak House now. It’s been utter joy to bring all the way into a variety of methodologies: History of the Book, Textual Scholarship, Bibliography, and Print Culture Studies. On the first day of class, I handed each of them a hardbound journal with blank pages (no lines) and invited them to commit at least 6 entries each week in the model of a commonplace book. They are just about to turn in the lab reports for this semester-long scholarly adventure. Before that, though, I got a look at the elaborate color-coding, pasted images, indexing (yes!), and pressed flowers that ended up between the pages. What they didn’t realize is that the Commonplace Book assignment prepared them to work in a digital environment — they were already using visual representations to articulate argument in their books! What follows are the instructions for the (reflective) Lab Report.

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Assignment: Digital Dickens & Reading by Candlelight

Learning Management Systems have come a long way since we first started using Moodle and Blackboard on our Campus — even further since our MOOC fiasco some years ago. Now, we have Canvas, which seems to be more robust even in its infrastructure. I use Canvas instead of a WordPress blog because it streamlines grading, and, more importantly, students use the running tally of their grades to see where they are at any point in the semester. There are still some bugs, though, with one annoying bug in general: I can only make public the syllabus for a course (e.g., Digital Dickens), not the assignments or discussion post prompts.

This means that cool or interesting assignment prompts that I’d like to share can’t be easily shared from the course website. Another step is required to open up the pedagogy. Because constructing assignments, prompts, and instructions is a skill in and of itself, it’s important to share our materials widely…and then provide acknowledgements if we borrow those materials.

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Do We Need More Intro to Digital Opportunities?

Update (5/23/18): Shawna Ross and Claire Battershill have created a really terrific introduction to Digital Humanities pedagogy: Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers and Students — extremely easy to follow with simple, open-source/access tools, and some assignments included.

This post stems from a query I posted to Digital Humanities Summer Institute listserv on February 22, 2017 about an entry level Digital Humanities workshop for a senior colleague who had recently become interested in the field but is unsure how to wade into the fray. My inquiry inspired more than 45 private emails and listserv responses with a variety of suggestions. The resulting suggestions are below. However, the need for ongoing introductory workshops, conferences, or opportunities for Digital Humanities has a specific audience and purpose. While the DH community has been remarkably responsive to inquiries, investigations, and interrogations of its existence, have we left behind the basic need for an entry-level opportunity for our more senior colleagues who have become DH-curious?  We aren’t at the point to drop the “digital” and simply roll ourselves into all of Humanities departments and disciplines just yet. (See Jentery Sayers cogent discussion in “Dropping the Digital.”) This then means that we need some way to welcome others who might have particular barriers for entry into the field. But, what type of opportunity is right for any individual?



Specific tool tutorial?

Bibliography of readings?

List of curricular materials?

What are we training these nascent and curious DHers to perform? Is “training” the correct model? I’ve been folding Digital Humanities into my pedagogy without calling it Digital Humanities for awhile at SJSU. However, those same strategies don’t work for a senior colleague who wants to know more.

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Claims of Early DH is Really Early Digital Pedagogy

Today, Brett Bobley (CIO of the NEH & director of Office of Digital Humanities), tweeted a link to the 1976 documentary, “Hypertext: An Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University.”

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Putting the Digital into Digital Pedagogy, A Talk

Thank you to Susan Behrens, Kathleen LeBesco, Jennifer Brown, and the Center for Teaching Innovation & Excellence at Marymount Manhattan College for hosting me on April 20 at well-attended luncheon to talk about digital pedagogy. During the talk, I demonstrated a variety of digital pedagogy assignments, discussed the Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities project, and pointed towards many online resources. Below are the slides with links to all references. What a great afternoon event!

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Sample Assignments for Project-Based Literature Courses

This morning, a colleague emailed some great news: He’s contemplating including a project that would allow students to work on printed early modern poems. I’m a big fan of encouraging students to touch material artifacts and learning how to read literature in an unmediated (i.e., anthologized and edited) version of literature and literary culture. While he’s still in the planning stages, he has some room to figure out just what he’d like to accomplish by including this type of project. What follows is my advice, links, and assignments for creating such a project. Though many of the project instructions below are semester-long, they can be scaled down to accommodate any length of time. Read more…

Where’s the DH in the Bay Area? The @CLIRDLF has created a community calendar for digitally-inflected conferences. This came across my Twitter feed from Amanda French and Bethany Nowviskie just as I was providing an SJSU iSchool grad student with some information about Digital Humanities community and infrastructure both at the local level at SJSU, in the Bay Area, and at a national and international level. I’m adding it here on my blog as double duty to broadcast this wonderful resource and to remind myself to check it often.

The exchange with this graduate student also reminded me that Digital Humanities is still so geographically-dispersed that it might be difficult for those who are exploring DH for the first time. FWIW, the Digital Humanities community from my point of view:

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