Digital Humanities pedagogy underpins my teaching, as I find it helps introduce students to cornerstone skills of critical thinking, writing, and debate, as well as connecting those skills with future employment.
Collaborative Arts Research Initiative, University of Alabama
SyllaBits is an online, mobile game to help theatre practitioners and literature students practice the skill of scansion. Poetry, since the classical period, was meant to be heard. If you have ever studied the poems of William Shakespeare, you are likely familiar with the phrase “iambic pentametre.” Iambic pentameter is the regular pattern of long and short syllables used, from the sixteenth century until today, by poets and playwrights working in English. Learning how to identify the six combinations of syllables that can make up a line of pentameter, called scansion, is key.
A growing group of writers, self-styled New Formalists including the likes of A. E. Stallings and Tyehimba Jess, are also driving a renewed interest in sonnets and other closed forms requiring the ability to scan. From the inability to use this hands-on strategy in the classroom due to the coronavirus global pandemic as well as the need to teach classical poetic forms with a diversity of poetic voices arose the conception of this mobile game. The web-based apparatus is under development by a team of advanced undergraduates and Computer Science graduate students, with methodology and pedagogy research assistance by graduate students in English.
This project is in progress with the proposed launch of a beta version in spring of 2022.
Aphra Behn: The Podcast
Alabama Digital Humanities Center, University of Alabama
Author, spy, political propagandist, Aphra Behn (1640–1689) was one of the first English women to earn a living by her pen. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the English Civil Wars, expanding transatlantic slave trade, and settler colonialism in the Americas, Behn’s work engages with frankness and complexity a range of topics, from gender identity to political power.
This podcast celebrates the 350th anniversary of the first public performance of a work by Behn, surveying major trends across translations of romances and scientific texts, timely plays, erotic poetry, and an anti-slavery novella. Researched, written, and produced by University of Alabama undergraduates during the coronavirus global pandemic in the spring of 2021, this limited series provides the public with a primer to one of the most influential writers in English you’ve never heard of.
This project was featured as part of the National Humanities Alliance’s Humanities for All series, “Making the Covert Public” (June 2021), and in a post for the Modern Language Association’s blog, The Wire (August 2021).
Othello’s Crane: A Twitter Play
First-Year Seminar, Pacific University
Two guerrilla movements have disrupted Digital Humanities pedagogy in the past decade: the event syllabus, and the appropriation of Twitter as a composition genre. The event syllabus typically presents as a web-based archive of articles that help the public both instruct themselves about racialized violence and provides resources to teach a kind of cultural competency in the classroom from a specific case. Typically these begin with a call for public education through Twitter with hashtags such as #FergusonSyllabus, #OrlandoSyllabus or #PulseSyllabus, and #CharlestonSyllabus, the latter of which is now an edited collection from the University of Georgia Press.
As part of a first-year seminar course designed to engage public debates through digital tools, “#OthelloSyllabus: Cyprus, Ferguson, Forest Grove,” freshmen employed the rhetoric of hashtag activism to engage with critical race theory across a spectrum of texts, including a documentary on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, William Shakespeare’s Othello, Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out. In weekly twessays, posting responses during community lectures, and in devising a Twitter play, the platform’s paradoxical mix of anonymity and very public writing helped students productively engage the complexity of a range of issues regarding race and digital activism.
Omeka and Film
University Library, University of Illinois
Designed for a introductory course on film, this scaffolded set of assignments relies on the digital tool Omeka to help students collect, organize, and analyze primary artifacts to support their claims. Provided are the prompts, along with a list of final projects - virtual mini-museums illustrating the impact of a specific documentary alongside a digital docent guide.
The collaboration between the instructors and the digital library staff served as case studies for several articles in library science.