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On Digital Humanities in the Undergraduate Classroom

photo of a circuit board

Readers who are digital humanities-curious–or who are just looking for a decently comprehensive overview of some approaches to digital pedagogy, especially but not necessarily exclusively, in the humanities classroom, might want to bookmark issue 11.3 (out in preview now) of Digital Humanities Quarterly, which is devoted to “Imagining the DH Undergraduate.”

In their “Introduction,”, Emily Christina Murphy and Shannon R Smith note the three themes that connect the essays: student agency, (digital) literacies, and the question of scale, which registers differently with undergrad work:

The boutique scale of student work in addition to programming context may evince a further impulse in DH undergraduate pedagogy to seek a bite-sized approach to the field, a small-scale impulse that contrasts with the big-data promises that have come to dominate many flavours of DH. Undergraduate students’ output as described in these articles, even when in written scholarly forms, tends to be at the scale of the encyclopedia article or the blog post. Indeed, the small scale of undergraduate student contribution indicates to us a genre of response to Hirsch, Freire, and Bishop: the role of the undergraduate is moving away from one of menial labour on large-scale projects and towards producing work that mirrors or overlaps with a form of “professional scholarship,” as many of our contributors put it. The small-scale written genre may represent a midpoint in this movement, and as Melanie Kill notes, the different entry points into such activity, like those available to students collectively authoring knowledge on Wikipedia, are conducive to student engagement and participation [Kill 2012, 397–8]. The boutique-sized output requires research, often entails an original scholarly contribution, but it does not demand the same level of robust argumentation as other forms and remains true to the small-scale contexts that have proven generative for undergraduate pedagogy.

It’s a great collection of articles, one that moves between individual classrooms to reconceptualized degree programs to cross-institutional collaborations. If you’re interested in incorporating DH into the classroom–as Kara Kennedy calls it, “accepting DH methods in the non-DH classroom,” why not check it out?

Photo “Digital City” by Flickr user Nikk / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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