Often a complaint about the lack of teaching how to teach – teaching pedagogy – in academic graduate programs gets stated by a professor lamenting their own training. Still, the world doesn’t change much. As the adjunctification of university labor skyrockets and non-tenured professors’ workload increases and innovation in the classroom is out of the realm of possibility, the possibilities of DH in the classroom feel utterly limited.
Of course, those are broader issues than I can tackle in 800ish words, or fix this weekend. I am also still debating a crusade on universities using transcript services that cost $15 a pop, so get back to me once that classist issue is solved. But maybe there’s a way to introduce DH in the classroom that’s not too scary. I sure hope so, because even though I have limited teaching experience, the one class I had on pedagogy at Auburn consisted of my peers hearing me champion “open-access, digital sources” over and over and over again.
As someone interested in DH and currently holding a DH fellowship, I am probably more limited in some ways in being enmeshed in that world. A strength of Claire Battershill’s and Shawna Ross’s book, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers, and Students, is their call for all humanist scholars to play around with using DH in the classroom. The book starts as an introduction to DH, what is useful, tools to use, and an introductory guide for those with no experience of using DH in the classroom. Let me start with a less scholarly opinion about this book: I love this call-to-action. I love it for a lot of reasons. I love that they start the book with a frank discussion of what DH is, (Enjoy this website, which they include, for a little bit. For me, okay?), and actually tackle head-on people’s fear and anxieties for introducing new stuff in the classroom. They’re very persuasive, though I do DH myself.
Discussing tools and resources to use, accessibility, syllabi, assignments, grading/evaluation, and using your own experiences to publish and augment your own research, this book truly acts as a good guide for educators. Battershill and Ross give validity to essentially all forms of DH in the classroom, however small, including using polls and online quizzes. They actually write wonderful ideas and tips for using DH as a supplement to an existing course. I won’t go on too much more about the contents, as this isn’t a review of the book, but I will note their Web Companion, linked here, which is such a brilliant idea in itself. Make sure to spend time here to develop your own thoughts and ideas for DH pedagogy.
Another real-world example of digital humanities pedagogy is written about in the Digital Humanities Quarterly, in “Getting on the Map: A Case Study in Digital Pedagogy and Undergraduate Crowdsourcing,” by Shannon Kelly. At Fairfield University in Connecticut, Dr. Kelly assigned undergraduate students with contributing to an existing project, The Map of Early Modern London, with a digital writing project. Kelly wrote about how the exercise benefitted her students (though what stuck out to me was her assessment that learning that scholars disagree about history blew her students’ minds). She is honest about the benefits, but also that digital writing is not enough to improve students’ digital literacy by itself. Another discussion of digital humanities pedagogy linked here.
So, what are some good examples, resources, and tools to use, you may be asking me, Dear Reader. I will link to those that I know of and have used as well as those discussed in the book above.
Online Text Repositories:
The Internet Archive
(Note: A lot of universities and institutions are providing open-access ebooks in the wake of the pandemic. Check your local institutions to see if you can access ebooks without paying)
Digital Collections, Databases, and Libraries:
Digital Public Library of America (wonderful to search several institutions’ resources at once)
World Cat (same, though I have little luck with this – maybe because of research topic?)
Louisiana Digital Library
California Digital Library
Texas Digital Library
Alabama Department of Archives and History – Digital
Library of Congress
Harvard Digital Collections – including Colonial North America at Harvard Library
List of 250+ Digital Libraries and Archives from OEDB
The British Library
German Heritage in Letters
DH projects (use for examples or for inspiration!):
Language of Lynching
A Red Record: Locating Lynching Sites in North Carolina
Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America
The Map of Early Modern London
Icelandic Saga Map
9/11 Digital Archive
Hurricane Digital Memory Bank
Digital Humanities Centers:
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond
MITH – Maryland Institute for Technologies in the Humanities
Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton
Digital Humanities Center Barnard College
Center for Reflected Text Analytics
Mainzer Zentrum für Digitalität in den Geistes
I must admit, the above list is mostly a self-serving exercise both in the form of having me think about all of the online resources I have used and wanted to work with, but to also gather others’ platforms, tools, and resources that I am unaware of currently. And yes, I will be doing that by posting on https://twitter.com/Csgreer6, and yes, I will update the above list. Thanks for reading!
Claire Battershill and Shawna Ross, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers, and Students (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)
Kalani Craig, et al., “Correcting for Presentism in Student Reading of Historical Accounts Through Digital-History Methodologies,” (2017).
Shannon Kelley, “Getting on the Map: A Case Study in Digital Pedagogy and Undergraduate Crowdsourcing,” DHQ 11.3 (2017).