During this particular instantiation of English 507, I am asking you to entertain the following stipulations:
- We will not spend a significant amount of time asking what digital humanities are or how to define them. We will also not read any texts about the meaning of digital humanities or its competing articulations. Instead, we will focus on the practice of computational approaches in the study of literature and culture as well as their relevance to your existing research. This focus should also allow you to avoid imposter syndrome (i.e., feeling like you do not “belong” in digital humanities).
- Wherever possible, we will focus on transduction, or how this becomes that in computational approaches. This means we will likely avoid using many “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) tools and instead focus on writing, encoding, programming, and compiling. The impulse for this move is to give you a granular sense of how computational arguments work, even if—to be fair—you can probably do more in less time with a WYSIWYG tool. I am not assuming (as many people do) that focusing on source code is an immediate or more authentic way of conducting computational analysis. In other words, I am not promoting “brogramming” or a source code fetish. And again, I am not assuming any technical competencies on your part.
- Your final argument with a computer will not assume the form of a “meta” or reflective essay about your research or what you’ve made/built in English 507. Instead, you will integrate your research and what you learn this semester into a web-ready essay about literature and culture. This essay should be intended for a particular audience (e.g., modernists, Victorianists, feminist media scholars, or critical race theorists) in or related to English studies rather than digital humanities, broadly understood. This practice of bringing computational analysis back to our “home” discipline(s) will allow us to focus on the results of multimodal approaches, not just the approaches themselves. Again, computation in literary and cultural criticism, but for whom, under what assumptions, and to what effects?
- When constructing arguments with computers, we will not ask whether they are "DH enough." The important question is whether you and like-minded colleagues think the argument is interesting, persuasive, and worth pursuing.
- We will do our best to avoid understanding new media (e.g., digtized texts) as "re-presentations" of original/primary sources (e.g., print novels, analog films). Instead, we will stress how new media and computation change the content, aesthetic, composition, structure, discoverability, and interfaces of materials.