my project and the digital humanities landscape

This week’s readings, as my fellow seminar participants have pointed out, were pretty academic and were afflicted with some of the shortcomings of much scholarly writing. Nonetheless, the articles, especially the Svennson piece, did provide me with a stronger understanding of the diversity of Digital Humanities and a set of terms to conceptualize and categorize Digital Humanities practices. Thus, I’ll try to respond to this week’s reflection questions: “How might these texts inform your conception of scholarly work in the digital? Where do you imagine your planned digital project engaging the primitives and fitting into the landscape?”

Svennson’s Modes of Engagements are most applicable to my planned digital project. He breaks down the Modes of Engagement in the following way: Tool, Study Object, Expressive Medium, Exploratory Laboratory, and Activist Venue. My proposed digital assignment would mostly engage the digital as a tool and expressive medium (though I’m not clear on the exact division between these two modes of engagement). Part of the motivation for including an online and digital assignment in my course is to create different (more creative?) opportunities for students to engage with course content and express their own analyses on issues of gender and politics. Although I have not settled the details, the project will ask students to use digital technology at least as a tool to disseminate information and as an expressive medium.

There is also the possibility that the students’ digital project will involve the digital as an activist venue. In fact, my interest in the possibilities of digital pedagogy stems in part from the activist or transformative potential of technology. I always ask students to develop their critical thinking skills and analyses of the political issues we discuss. Despite the fact that many of my students refine their beliefs or come to a new consciousness regarding the issues we investigate, their critical stances are disconnected (at least when it comes to course assignments) from any sort of larger political activism or engagement. Though requiring students to publish something online is a minor kind of engagement, I think that it will slightly change students’ orientations to the issues. Making resources and their own analyses of issues like sexual assault, pay inequality, and such publicly available is perhaps a step toward a more robust political engagement. As I design my project and refine the details, I want to keep this activist possibility in mind.

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