Digital Humanities Survey (designed and taught for the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Humanities)
Full Course Title: “Humanities 150: Tools, Techniques, and Culture of the Digital Humanities”
This course offers students an introduction to the concepts, tools, and techniques of digital humanities, as well as a broader engagement with the intersections between new technologies and society. During the term, students will have the opportunity to engage:
Tools and techniques for analyzing source materials, assessing problems, and communicating results common to those working in the discipline of the humanities,
Major computing tools (software, hardware, and peripherals) and techniques used by those working in the digital humanities, focusing on their broad application across the discipline of the humanities,
Electronic research methods and approaches to critical thinking required to find and evaluate electronic sources,
Methods of analyzing humanities research problems in terms of appropriate computing solutions, with an awareness of the potential limitations and benefits of a particular situation,
Collaborative research in fields of the humanities that have traditionally promoted individual research, and
The social, ethical, legal, and philosophical implications of computing and technology.
It is important to note that, while the course will introduce students to tools, techniques, and skills, HUMA 150 is an academic course, not a “skills” course. Students are expected to have basic writing and reasoning skills—including a working knowledge of standard word processing and Internet applications—such that assignments can be written, argued, and presented effectively.
By the conclusion of this course, students should learn to:
Collaborate with their peers through not only the use of new technologies but also an agreed-upon and democratic workflow,
Purposefully read, analyze, and synthesize electronic texts and new media using the appropriate research tools and techniques,
Concisely articulate issues (e.g., social, cultural, economic, technical, and aesthetic) common to digital humanities research and explain why they are relevant to today’s audiences,
Persuasively communicate the stakes of digital humanities research,
Demonstrate awareness of various strategies used by digital humanities practitioners to interpret history and culture, and
Collaboratively produce a proof of concept for a new digital humanities project, which is relevant to students, staff, and faculty at the University of Victoria.
Student work will be evaluated through individual blog entries, a collaborative project, a project proposal, an oral presentation, and class discussions. Throughout the term, students will use a course WordPress blog as a networked writing environment to provide constructive feedback on the work of their peers. The collaborative project will be iteratively and incrementally developed, giving students the opportunity to periodically share and revise their work.
While I had taught digital humanities courses in the past (including “Mapping the Digital Humanities”), this was my first digital humanities course intended specifically for 1st-year undergraduates. It was also my first digital humanities course at the University of Victoria. That said, Humanities 150 allowed me to think quite thoroughly through what concepts, projects, readings, and practices I believe are “core” to digital humanities research and learning. By the semester’s end, I discovered that I sandwiched simply too much material into the course (a sign—to be sure—of how excited I was to teach digital humanities on a campus new to me). Fortunately (for me and the students), I cut some assignments and material as we progressed through the weeks. And, for the next iteration of the course, I now have a more refined and succinct outline intended for 1st-year students.
(All images on the left are screen shots of the course site and blog, which I designed.)