- Introducing Digital Humanities Pedagogy
How does one teach skills in Digital Humanities (DH) to undergraduates in a traditional survey course? Or to graduate students in literature seminars? This special issue hopes to address those questions—as well as offer some answers to the perpetual question, “What is DH?” I begin this introduction by surveying the pedagogical field for DH as its own specialization (in other words, the pedagogy of DH), then move to a discussion of the pedagogy of DH in the English classroom.
For most English faculty, DH as a field remains uncharted territory.1 Online scholarship is more than “mere digitization” (Fitzpatrick); it is instead a collaborative practice taking many digital forms, all concerned with “building” things—with creating new knowledge collaboratively through the application of humanities computing. We see this collaborative practice in digital editions and databases, in digital toolmaking, in crowd-sourcing of scholarly projects, in social networks exchanging ideas, and in the creation of on-campus DH workspaces. Such collaborations have defined the field and proved a mainstay of DH scholarship.
In recent years DH scholars have pushed that collaborative discourse to include applied DH in the classroom. But that pedagogical impulse has been for the classroom writ large, not for English or literature classrooms specifically. Certainly, creators of scholarly archives and digital editions, coders working with the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), those mapping with Geographical Information Systems (GIS), archivists of multimedia research collections, and data analyzers, all have long taught how to “do” their specific forms of DH. Likewise, scholars have been long able to gain hands-on training in DH generally at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), and the various iterations across the country of The Humanities and Technology Camp (THATCamp).
This same DH pedagogy writ large has received increasingly attention in recent years, particularly in online communities such as blogs and listservs. Many digital humanists already post their syllabi and thoughts on DH pedagogy on blogs for public consumption, examining such issues as the nature of humanities pedagogy, new media, and digital scholarship, among others.2 DH pedagogy has also become the subject of book-length discussions as in Brett D. Hirsch’s Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics (Open Book 2012) and of the “born-digital” journal, Hybrid Pedagogy. [End Page 140]
Just as pedagogy has begun to receive more consideration in print and online, workshops and other events examining how scholars can incorporate DH in the classroom have increased. THATCamp Pedagogy has been offered since 2011, and DHSI has included the “Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities” seminar since 2012. In a similar vein, the 2012 and 2013 MLA conferences, respectively, held “Digital Pedagogy Electronic Roundtable” and the “Digital Pedagogy Unconference.” The “Introducing Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities” workshop at Lewis & Clark College, the University of Delaware’s current “Teach the Teachers: Digital Humanities in the Classroom” workshop series, and the University of Michigan’s “Digital Pedagogies, 2013–2014” series have all focused attention to digital pedagogies, though not necessarily to DH in the English classroom. Further, Richard Stockton College’s 2014 THATCamp is titled “Digital Pedagogy.”3 Despite this abundance of pedagogy workshops, for most faculty, access to site-specific events—whether held for one week or one day—is often limited to time and proximity.
However, while plenty of scholarly texts discussed how to do digital humanities and plenty of institutions offered that training, very few texts address how teachers can apply DH in literature classrooms. In fact prior to the 2009 MLA annual conference when a flourish of DH panels gained national attention, even for the most experienced digital humanist, successfully including DH tools in a traditional literature class was more-or-less dependent on trial and error. There is then a need for a sustained discussion of DH pedagogy as it relates to the undergraduate literature classroom.
This special issue provides scholars the opportunity to learn more about DH pedagogy and its practical application in toolmaking, multimedia archives, and in the classroom. The essays respond to Roger Whitson’s concern that “the digital humanities needs more critical reflections on technological pedagogy...