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Saturday, February 29 • 10:15am - 11:45am
Digital Humanities and the Undergraduate Classroom

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Chair: Cait Kennedy

Brian Matzke, "“Computers aren’t my thing”: Teaching an Introductory DH Course at a Small University"
This paper will describe a newly created course, “DH100: Introduction to Digital Humanities,” that was taught at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) for the first time in the Fall of 2019. The course was designed to provide a broad overview of the field, serve as a gateway to upper level DH courses in English and History, and fulfill a general education requirement in the arts and humanities.
In the course, students created websites using WordPress and designed multi-media research projects using digital tools. Students found primary sources online and create exhibits of those sources on their sites. They wrote metadata records to describe their sources and marked up documents in XML. They extracted data from their sources, such as word frequencies using programs like Voyant, and visualized that data in the form of graphs or word clouds. Students also created maps and timelines and exhibited these visualizations on their websites as well. Finally, they wrote short research papers describing their findings.
This paper will examine some of the difficulties involved in guiding students through their research projects and introducing them to a wide range of DH tools and concepts. This being a 100-level class, most of the students were in their first semester of college and had no prior experience with original research. Additionally, about half of the students were in Computer Science-related majors and came to the course with a relatively high degree of technological literacy, while the other half had little confidence working with computers. Designing instruction that effectively balanced an introduction to research methods with appropriate coverage of technical competencies, while also encouraging humanistic critique, proves to be an ongoing challenge. This paper will also discuss the challenges of reaching out to women, first generation college students, and other underrepresented groups.

Sharmishtha Roy Chowdhury, "History and (Digital) Writing: A Report from the Classroom"
Over the last 5-6 years I have integrated my interest in digital humanities into my undergraduate history teaching. This paper outlines my experiments with different digital tools in the history classroom and their impact on student learning. I discuss different platforms suitable for undergraduate history courses and discuss the potential usefulness of digital tools for history writing and classroom discussion. The disciplinary issues specific to history that I raise in this paper are: design (framing history projects suitable for digital tools), selection (choosing platforms suitable for history projects) and student engagement (my experiences). The paper will be of great interest to historians and librarians as we all work together to educate students to write for public-facing digital platforms and to engage in critical thinking in a digital age.

Jenna Sheffield, Cara Miele, Lauren Boasso, Mary Isbell, Lauren Beck, Simon Hutchinson, and Matt Wranovix, "Calling All Majors: The Digital Humanities Lab at the University of New Haven"
This fall, faculty across different disciplines at the University of New Haven have come together to teach a new 1-credit, introductory “Digital Humanities Lab” designed to introduce students to the possibilities for undergraduate research in the digital humanities. Our version of the digital humanities is all-inclusive and focused on getting students excited about faculty-mentored research early in their undergrad careers.

Our goal is to attract students and faculty from all majors, enhancing projects in any discipline. A student pursuing criminal justice could prepare a digital archive of important documents from a historic court case for future students, perhaps partnering with a forensic science student to create an interactive map of crime scene data. A philosophy student might generate a thought experiment using a Twitterbot. And a student of literature might track major changes in a story over 500 years, customizing an interface that allows readers to explore adaptations in detail.

During the first half of the course, faculty from different disciplines introduce how their expertise intersects with the digital humanities and might enhance or shape student projects. Students can participate in-person or virtually for the first half of the course and then meet individually with the faculty member of their choice to build a project in the second half of the semester.

In this panel we will discuss the creation and implementation of our DH lab, speak about some of the challenges we encountered, and share student projects and their impact. Mary Isbell, the first lead on the course, will share the specific strategies employed for course design and recruitment, and the other panelists will discuss insights that emerged from their preparation of 75-minute workshops and individual mentoring.


Brian Matzke

Central Connecticut State University

Sharmishtha Roy Chowdhury

Queens College, CUNY

Jenna Sheffield

University of New Haven

Cara Miele

University of New Haven

Lauren Boasso

University of New Haven

Lauren Beck

University of New Haven

Mary Isbell

University of New Haven

Simon Hutchinson

University of New Haven

Matt Wranovix

University of New Haven

Saturday February 29, 2020 10:15am - 11:45am EST
1823 Room

Attendees (4)