Blog Post

Mapping the Digital Humanities


At the University of Washington, Seattle, together with Matt Wilson (and under the mentorship of Sarah Elwood (Geography) and Phillip Thurtle (Comparative History of Ideas)),I am currently planning a course and curriculum entitled, "Mapping the Digital Humanities." I will teach the course (with Matt's assistance) this coming spring quarter at the UW in the University's Comparative History of Ideas program.

Here's a draft course description:

    "What is the role of digital technologies in learning and taking classes at the university? How are these technologies influencing scholarship and research practices, as well as facilitating critical and creative inquiry? With these questions as a framework, this course provides undergraduates with the opportunity to begin or continue their own digital humanities projects throughout (and ideally beyond) an entire quarter. More specifically, the class is structured around two approaches to ?mapping? in the digital humanities: geographical mapping and textual mapping. In the first instance, students will collaboratively compose an interactive, digital map of the University of Washington?s Seattle campus through a combination of photography, video, sound, text, and Google Maps and Earth. In the second instance, students will pursue individual projects, where they will produce digital models for their humanities research and writing. Put this way, both the collaborative and individual projects will be articulated as vehicles for ?animating? information and moving audiences toward new ways of perceiving and inhabiting the work of humanities research.

    Throughout the course, students will practice emerging skills in the digital humanities, including some, if not all, of the following: metadata creation/maintenance (e.g., XML, FGDC standards), geo-coding, digital cartography, website design (e.g., XHTML, CSS), geographic information systems, and multi-authored blogging.

    The class will be workshop-driven, using studio-based modules for participatory learning, and conducted in a PC lab (Mary Gates Hall 030). Course texts (for out-of-class reading and/or in-class conversation) will likely include selections from A Companion to Digital Humanities, in addition to the Electronic Literature Collection (Volume 1), texts on the production of space (e.g., by Michel de Certeau), ecology (e.g., by Gregory Bateson), media aesthetics (e.g., by Alan Liu), the materiality of media (e.g., by Anna Munster), ?distant reading? (e.g., by Franco Moretti), and ?the cut-up method? (e.g., by William S. Burroughs).

    Class will meet for two hours, twice per week (MW, 9:30-11:20, to be exact), and time will be split equally between the collaborative and individual mapping projects.

    No technical skills in digital technologies are required for this course. However, students who are looking for the time and space to develop their already existing ideas for digital projects are especially encouraged to enroll. And ?W? credit is an option, arranged on a case-by-case basis."

As we continue to flesh things out and prepare for the spring, Matt and I are blogging over at "Mapping the Digital Humanities Dot Org." That blog includes links to the class Google Reader, Map, and Library, as well as to pages for the modules, assignments, calendar, outcomes, relevant links, and course description. We would love to hear your comments (here or there) and receive feedback, especially from those of you who have taught (or will be teaching) comparable courses. (Of note, the site will ultimately become the course blog, to which all students in the course will contribute.)

I'll post an udpate soon, most likely in March.



Thanks, Jentery. It is so useful when planning one's own courses to see what others are doing. I urge anyone who wishes to use these pages to post a syllabus. And when (finally!!) our new HASTAC website launches, hopefully this Spring, we will have a special section for curriculum, syllabi, and other such pedagogical components. Thanks.