Tag: education

response to our DH writing assignment

The Assignment:

You suddenly find yourself in charge of a scholarly/teaching organization of some kind. You decide that the first thing you want to do is make digital scholarship/communication a significant reality. What do you do?

I would rather not define specifically what digital humanities is—mainly because I believe it is not a department/field specific study. At least in the long term; that is, for the short-term, I do believe it will involve a particular concentration on trying to see the world in terms of one big archive and discovering solutions for access and distribution of the material it contains. But eventually, this is going to be mostly tool driven and those tools will become less field-specific causing any methodologies to also become less field-specific (though, of course, each discipline will still retain their core). And so my vision involves cross-departmental studies, meaning I would rather have a skeletal digital humanities department, with many courses cherry-picked from other departments as well as designed in collaboration with them until such time as the DH reaches some sort of critical mass and other disciplines accept what they do as part of maintaining that world archive.

I see the curriculum as beginning with a common entry point branching off to specializations. But the entry point is not just core classes that people need to be exposed—it is that—but it is also a time to reorient people. Of course the core would contain literary courses (from an English department), but also a “Philosophy of…” set of courses: Philosophy of programming, textual encoding, library sciences, anthropology, art/design, communication, linguistics, philosophy—these would be designed as interdisciplinary seminars. Basically, we need lots of people from lots of fields and experiences talking together, sharing their intellectual history. I would like to see the destination of these courses not be so much writing-papers (though it is hard for me to not want to make that a component) but designed to produce a class project—some problem or challenge that the class has discovered during their tour, that they need to work out all the collaborative logistics in order to design a solution.

In addition to these Philosophy Of courses, some basic programming courses would be necessary. It’s hard to speak a language without actually having spoken it. But they could be literary oriented (i.e. design a parser). Unfortunately, development environments have not come of age yet, and so there also needs to be continual hands-on work throughout students’ academic journey. And  so in addition to the Philosophy of Textual encoding, I think there also needs to be specific course that concentrate on different specific types/methods of encoding throughout their program.

The specialization/concentration parts of the curriculum are basically applied Philosophy Of courses. Technology makes this necessary. If you’re going to use film, you need to have real experience with not only the equipment, but the design and practicality considerations as well. I think they should be two-semester courses–one to get in the mud and play, and the second to take what they learn out into the world by  working on a project for someone in the real world. This could involve becoming resources for Project Bamboo or some such other organization.

In a sense, my particular digital humanities program might be considered generally as an applied philosophy program–one where we address different technologies, obviously, but also the collaborative learning process, with the aim of re-visioning the  world as an archive.