Most of the assignments for this course will need to be done on a computer; a number of the worksets will ask you to install software for the lab section at the end of class. If your computer is nonexistent, very old, or is in any other way unable to fulfill some particular assignment, you may need to complete certain assignments in a computer lab and arrange to share with a colleague during class.
Readings and attendance
You should complete the required readings and attend class prepared with questions and criticisms. This is a large class for a seminar; it is more likely than usual that you will need to be prepared before class to make useful interventions in it.
You are expected to contribute almost every week to the course blog–over the course of the semester, you should have at least 11 posts which cumulatively reach about 4,000-5,000 words. These are not expected to be completely polished pieces of writing, but they should show your engagement with the texts and your peers, and create a ground you can build on in later work. The word limit is not particularly high; you should avoid at all costs pseudo-scholarly throat clearing and generalizations, and get right to the point. Write for the audience of the class.
You should read at least your peers’ blog posts for the weeks that you post.
Posts should up by 1pm the day of class.
Topics typically include things like:
- Reactions to the reading: questions you want your peers to answer, things you don’t understand, or angry denunciations of what you think the writers got wrong.
- Reflections on connections between the readings and issues you’ve encountered in digital history in other courses or online.
- Responses to questions posed by your colleagues.
Most of your posts will be on topics of your choosing. Others, though, may be required.
In particular, you will write:
- A very short introductory post in week 1.
- A description of a crowdsourcing project you’ve contributed to in week 3;
- An evaluation of an online exhibition in week 9;
- A summary of and response to one of the online sources you are following in a week of your choosing.
I also encourage you to comment on posts on the website. Well grounded comments count towards class participation; you should feel free to use the comments if you feel like the large class size hinders your ability to contribute to in-class discussion.
If you’d like to have more ownership of your posts, I encourage you to set up your own web site and post there. Talk to me if you wish to know more about doing this. Just make sure to link to them from the course blog.
You may have good reasons not to want your name associated with your blog posts or Internet presence–if so, we can make your posts private or (preferably) pseudonymous. But remember, conversely, that building up a strong professional online presence can be enormously beneficial. Student blog posts from this class have, in the past, ended up on the syllabi for graduate courses at other universities. There is much to gain, as more senior graduate students will tell you, from developing a public professional identity beginning early.
Each week we will begin a practicum, learning to use some set of tools. At the end of class you’ll receive a short list of tasks to accomplish. By the end of the course, you will have begun acquiring the skills to make a map, mine a text, create a network diagram, and set up an online exhibition.
Completing each workset is required, but the individual tasks will be handled on a pass/fail basis. If you do every workset, you get full credit for this portion of the course. I encourage you to talk to other students while completing the worksets (much frustration can be avoided not doing it alone), but unless otherwise indicated you must do the tasks yourself, even if someone else tells you how to do it.
You should give evidence of having completed the assignment to Dave DeCamp before the start of the next class. This may be screenshots, some brief textual reflections, or a description of a website you visited. Use common sense here; Dave can help tell you what he needs if you’re confused. Late or incomplete worksets can receive partial credit.
If you want to go above and beyond the basic assignment–adding a colored layer to the maps we build, say, you can post to the blog. Certain worksets will tell you to create a blog post–in those cases, you’ll get credit for completing practicum as well as towards your blog post quota.
As we take on classroom exercises in the second third of the course, you should think about which one(s) you want to expand into a longer form. We’ll also try to get a trip to the archives in so that you can practice some digital curation on your own.
Projects may be collaborative. In general, public history students should be predisposed towards a collaborative project, and world history or comparable students towards an individual one. Collaborative projects should have a sensible division of labor, and include individual statements of the work done.
You will submit a proposal for your project by November 13th: projects are due December 11th.
It is incredibly easy to engage with scholarly activity in the digital humanities by reading and posting online. As part of this course, you should set some goals to build your digital engagement.
Pick five blogs that you’ll be following: one should be the blog “Digital Humanities Now,” which aggregates posts every week that many different digital humanists have been discussing. Follow them using an RSS reader like Feedly, or a social media site like Twitter. As decribed in “Blogging,” one of your posts should be a response to issues raised in them.
- Class participation/attendance (and blog comments): 25%
- Blogging assignments: 20%
- Practicums: 25%
- Projects: 30%
Most of the texts for this class are available online; digital humanists are good that way. Some are also available for physical purchase.
- Jockers Macroanalysis.
- Tufte Envisioning Information.
- Presner, Shepard, and Kawano, HyperCities (Harvard, 2014)
- Fogel and Engerman Time on the Cross., Time on the Cross. (Just volume 1; this one you can find online cheap used, particularly the 1974 edition; it would make sense to share this one or get it on course reserve rather than new).
Fogel, Robert William, and Stanley L Engerman. Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. New York: Norton, 1989.
Jockers, Matthew L. Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History. University of Illinois Press, 2013.
Tufte, Edward R. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, Conn. (P.O. Box 430, Cheshire 06410): Graphics Press, 1990.