There are two words you can say to me that will elicit emotional extremes ranging from excitement to panic to downright petrification. They are: Digital Humanities. Now, as a PhD candidate in literature, I hear these two words tossed over the cubicle walls in my department all day long. My Twitter feed smacks me in the face with DH every time I happen to take a glance. My roommate even says these words to me just to see which response they’ll elicit so she can gauge my mood. Part of this emotional extremism comes from the fact that I didn’t know I was supposed to know anything about DH this time last year. It was only when a colleague of mine asked how I was going to field the dreaded DH question during job interviews that I started to see what Cathy N. Davidson calls “the gorilla on the basketball court.” (For more on that gorilla, see Davidson’s Now You See It [Penguin 2011]) The point is, I’m learning really fast that digital pedagogies are not so scary; really, they are varied and exciting, and even a non-tech person like me can offer a digitally rich composition or literature course.
Spring semester has just begun, and I have launched my first course blog. I’ll be posting tidbits about what works and what doesn’t in hopes of having a record of my process and as a way to open up a conversation with those of you who want to get digital in your classrooms and research or who are seasoned and have advice to share.
Not a single one of my 32 composition students this semester has ever blogged, posted on someone else’s blog, or even commented on a newspaper/magazine article online. This surprises me beyond belief. But, now I know that what I am about to do will teach them how to be strong digital humanists in this growing community. Once they (and I) feel stable, we’ll go public, so stay tuned!