Oct 17 2011

Is a Simple, Straightforward Syllabus for “Intro to DH” Possible? Is it even desirable?

By now, there are dozens of courses that introduce students (undergrad & graduate) to the digital humanities, representing a wide variety of approaches, disciplines, and with different degrees of sophistication and technical prerequisite knowledge. Whereas even a couple of years ago there was little coordination or consensus, some broad definitions of the field seem to me to be coalescing now. I see potential in this emerging consensus for agreement on what skills, habits of mind, and essential content might need to be present in an introductory course. But I also sense that a canon creates boundaries–something against which DH defined itself to begin with.

I’m proposing a winter session course, “Intro to Digital Humanities” at my institution for January 2012. I’d be interested in a session that hammers out whether such a course should be idiosyncratic and purely exploratory, or whether we are at the point where we can agree on core readings/activities/competencies that would be a disservice to my students to omit. I’ll prepare a list of links to existing syllabi available online in advance of Saturday, and if we do this session I’d welcome a wide-ranging conversation about how to teach as well as do digital humanities. Speaking purely for myself, I find I’m better at following and applauding DH efforts than actually getting involved in them and I’m hoping this THATCamp will be a firecracker under my chair in my own work and in my classrooms.

About the author

Tona Hangen

Areas of interest: media studies, broadcasting history, religion and American culture. I eagerly follow digital humanities conversations in social media & conferences. In my teaching (4/4 load at Worcester State U), I try to use & introduce students to digital sources, methods and tools for history.

Permanent link to this article: http://newengland2011.thatcamp.org/10/17/is-a-simple-straightforward-syllabus-for-intro-to-dh-possible-is-it-even-desirable/


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  1. keywords.fordhamitac.org

    I love this idea! I second it.

  2. Amanda Rust

    I third this idea, and see a possibly fruitful conversation between this session, and another proposed here. In this session we have an approach to teaching DH at an academic course level, whereas in the other session we seem to have a focus on teaching DH concepts “on the front lines”, as it were — perhaps each would inform the other?

  3. hope.greenberg

    One session at this past weekend’s THATCamp Pedagogy tackled this topic. As one might expect the conversation ranged far and wide. Some of those notes are here:

    Other notes from that day are here: pedagogy2011.thatcamp.org/session-google-docs/

  4. elizabethcornell

    Thanks, Hope for those links. They’re a goldmine.
    One question I have is why do we need to teach a class about the digital humanities (such as Introduction to the DH) as opposed to teaching a course in literature or composition (for example) in a digital humanities context?

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