not quite a session proposal

Hello, fellow campers! I’m new to this game — this will be my first THATCamp — so I don’t think I want to propose a session. But I would like to ask for help. Consider this an informal request that can be addressed via comments here, in between-sessions conversations at the camp, or on Twitter.

Next spring I will be teaching a class called . . . well, I haven’t settled on a title yet, but for now let’s call it Digital Reading and Research. It will be an upper-divisional course, but also a kind of trial run for a general education course. (That is, if the course goes well my institution might consider creating a version of it for freshmen, possibly to be required of all freshmen.) The key purposes of the course will be:

  • to introduce students to the history of digital texts and digital humanities;
  • to situate these technologies within the larger history of humanistic scholarship;
  • to outline the controversies currently surrounding these developments, from techno-utopians (Kevin Kelly) to moderate skeptics (Nick Carr, Jaron Lanier);
  • to give students hands-on experience with some of the most useful tools available, from Google Scholar to Zotero to CommentPress to . . . whatever.

My current plan is for roughly half the course to cover the first three points and half to cover practice with the tools. So fellow campers, give me your best suggestions for how to organize this course, what texts to assign, what assignments to give — anything you got that might be helpful to someone teaching it for the first time. I would be much obliged to you!

About jacobsar

I teach English at Wheaton College in Illinois and write about . . . many things. I work largely in British Modernism and in the relations between religion and literature, but have increasingly been working in the history of the book and of digital technologies. I write fairly often for the Technology channel of The Atlantic. My most recent book is called *The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction* (Oxford UP, 2011), and I am currently working on *The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography* (Princeton UP, forthcoming 2013).

9 thoughts on “not quite a session proposal

  1. I am a student of Professor Jack Doughtery’s at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. He instructed an upper level seminar that included Zotero, WordPress, Google Fusion Maps, Google Docs, and Inqscribe. I really liked how the course was structured. The course met once a week for three hours. The first 45 minutes (maybe less) were spent on homework responses, upcoming assignments, some explanation of course materials, and some general administrative. The middle of the class was spent learning one of the new technology skills. The end of the seminar was spent analyzing/discussing the assigned readings. As a student, I went into the end of the class (typically the most dreadful part) really “jazzed” and energized with my new skills.

    Here is a link to the seminars WordPress page.
    Two semesters later, I still reference the “How To” section frequently! I hope the student perspective is helpful, your course sounds really interesting, and most importantly really useful!

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  3. Good to see comments by my student, Fionnuala, and I agree that this could be a session proposal, if jacobsar wishes. Another option might be to propose merging it with Mark Sample’s Better Blogging Assignment idea. Personally, I’m trying to emphasize more “digital writing” (not just reading) in my courses, for students to take on more active learning roles and to produce (not just consume) content for the Web.

  4. While I also agree it would make a good session, I would also like to point you toward a resource I’ve been trying to put together:

    It’s an open Zotero group that’s a repository for Digital Humanities syllabi. Please feel free to join, to use, and to add anything we might not have included.

  5. There’s also the Zotero group that Lisa Spiro has put together––and the collection of syllabi assembled by people at CUNY–

    I’d certainly be interested in talking through undergraduate digital humanities courses/projects.

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