“What is Digital Humanities doing in English Departments?” asks Matthew Kirshenbaum. He offers a number of interesting reasons, such as the relationship of composition and computers, databases of texts, reading technology, textual analyses, the history of cultural studies via literature, and the collaboration of literature with other disciplines. These areas, he notes, are natural to English Depts., and hence computer technology and literature are not incompatible, but are highly so. Unfortunately, trends in higher education see English Depts. as anachronisms, relics of the past that are not up to speed with the 21st century “job skills” that contemporary students are seeking in higher education, particularly with the massive influx of computer technology. But he makes the case that English Depts. still are relevant, and are in fact more at the forefront of higher ed than meets the eye. Digital Humanities, in particular, are highly relevant for the 21st century.
Martha Castañeda’s article looks at digital storytelling in foreign language classes as an innovative tool for teaching foreign language skills, particularly incorporating reading, writing, drama, and technology into the foreign language classroom. These activities, she argues, are an excellent and nuanced pedagogical approach to the traditional foreign language classroom. She offers a number of examples to direct storytelling projects: such as memories, accomplishments, community or social concerns. She notes that the storytelling in the foreign language is the primary concern, of course, with the technology as secondary; hence, the pedagogical focus is crafting and refining the foreign language, typical of task-based assignments in foreign language courses. Plus, the projects are also multidisciplinary: that is, students learn critical thinking, media literacy, and basic reporting as well. Her case study in the article reports overall student enthusiasm for these projects, including student research into nuances of vocabulary and grammar in order to fine-tune their language for the recordings. Overall, she found that students exceeded her expectations for drafting, performing, and editing of the projects.