Modest Proposals from a Digital Novice

May 21st, 2010 |

I’m a digital humanities newbie. There, I said it. I’m plenty of yack with hardly any hack. That is, while I can envision-and happily yack about-various projects that I’d like to pursue, I’ve less ability to get my ideas underway. But I’m learning (dabbling with Omeka to start), and that’s why I wanted to be part of THATCamp. I’m also here in my dual roles as an American Studies grad student and a mid-career professional. My checkered past has been spent as a writer and editor in the arts, museum, medical device technology, advertising & marketing and publishing fields.  

I’m interested in how digital technologies can transform my teaching and scholarship and, given my past and hopefully future work with museums, am interested in its public humanities aspects as well. Since I already described my proposals for that camp in my comments on Rob Nelson and Dave Parry’s  entries, I will, with apologies, re-offer those summaries in slightly altered form below. But, really, I’m here to learn, brainstorm and be inspired. It’s self-guided retraining as I wait for DSPOADHCFMCSOU to launch!  

Digital Pedagogy: Having just concluded an undergraduate seminar (From P.T. Barnum to Second Life: American Identities in the Museum) that incorporated digital humanities in modest ways, I’m keen to join in discussions about the challenges and possibilities that new technologies present for teaching. One of my THATCamp proposals involves adapting or developing an annotation tool for collaborative critical reading. Existing software such as Comment Press or Adobe Buzzword provide some but not all the features that I envision for this project. The aim is to leverage the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing by fostering critical reading skills that encourage students to examine how scholars structure and develop their arguments and, in turn, to think more critically about their own writing. The difference between this idea and, say, having students blog about what they are reading is that the tool would make students’ observations about the text-and the text itself-visible in the same shared space, inviting close re-examination of the text. And what might this look like if visualizations were possible, too? What might that offer?

Project Brainstorm: My other THATCamp topic concerns my still-in-proposal-stage dissertation on the wartime work of U.S. museums.  It is my hope that integrating digital humanities into this project will not only augment the types of analysis that can be pursued but will also expand the ways in which the research problems themselves are formulated—and the arguments made. That said, I’m having difficulty conceiving of what this might be in part because I’m new to this enterprise of digital humanities. So I would love to talk about the larger issues of digital scholarship and brainstorm ideas. I’m keen to learn more about Matthew Slaats’  and Daniel Chamberlain’s entries, for example.

Comments Feed

3 Responses to “Modest Proposals from a Digital Novice”

  1. Clara Trapalis Says:

    Yes! thought your post is a very interesting + informative !

  2. Six Months Later: Another THATCamp « Clarissa J. Ceglio Says:

    […] absorb the spirit of things while the content soared over my head.)  Overall, I observed much, contributed a little and came away inspired by the different models of digital scholarship that I’d encountered—in […]

  3. THATCamp New England » Blog Archive Says:

    […] absorb the spirit of things while the content soared over my head.)  Overall, I observed much, contributed a little and came away inspired by the different models of digital scholarship that I’d encountered—in […]


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