Building the Digital Humanities at Weber State University

I’ve recently joined the English Department in the Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities at Weber State University. I’m in the early stages of talking with faculty and administration to think about how we might build a presence for the Digital Humanities at Weber State University.

Defining the “Digital Humanities” is no easy task, since so very many people have already come up with definitions. Furthermore, many of these definitions are mutually exclusive (and hotly debated).

Currently, I’m thinking along the lines suggested by Northwestern University’s “Guide to Digital Humanities“:

  • “scholarship presented in digital form(s)
  • scholarship enabled by digital tools & methods
  • scholarship about digital technology & culture
  • scholarship building and experimenting with digital technology
  • scholarship critical of its own digital-ness”

That middle bullet point is closest to my own area of specialization–along with, I’d add, scholarship about media’s impact on literature, and scholarship on the histories of digital culture and textual media. While I’d describe myself first as a scholar of literature and media theory, I’m invested in all of the items on this list.

In my first semester at Weber State, I’ll be building these approaches into ostensibly traditional curricular offerings:

In Critical Approaches to Literature, we will include media studies and the digital humanities among the critical methodologies that we study: the class will include a DH lab workshop, as well as an analysis of the iPad adaptation of Dracula (a text that we will be studying through different critical lenses over the course of the semester).

In Modern British Literature, one of the students’ major assignments will be to produce an annotated, online map, analyzing the relationship between passages from literary texts and significant locations in modernist literature.

In Intermediate College Writing, students will write two extended research papers. In the first, they will analyze the emerging conversation about the ways that digital reading environments may be shaping cognition, memory, and attention. In the second, they will choose a technology that interests them and research its history and social impact.

DH¬†encourages us to think creatively, reflect critically, and work collaboratively, often across disciplinary boundaries. It is increasingly important to bring a humanistic approach to bear on digital culture–to not lose site of the culture half of that phrase. I’m looking forward to exploring these approaches with my students, with other interested faculty at WSU, and with the wider community in Ogden and in Utah.

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