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ENGL 4709/5709: Digital Humanities


ENGL 4709/5709: Digital Humanities
Fall 2012
New Day and Time
Tuesday, 4:00 - 6:40

With changes in production and distribution come changes in humanities. Old masters give way to amateurs. The elite give way to the mob. The unique gives way to mechanical and then digital reproduction. The individual creation gives way to the collaborative and communal, the remix and the mashup.

ENGL 4709/5709: Digital Humanities will look at what happened and what's happening to the arts and sciences as analog invention, creation, and production give way to the digital. For readers, writers, artists, humanists, and anyone else interested in how the humanities work.

Opening reading: Digital Humanities Manifesto, v 2.0
http://www.humanitiesblast.com/manifesto/Manifesto_V2.pdf
"Our emblem is a digital photograph of a hammer (manual making) superimposed over a folded page (the 2d text that now unfolds in three dimensions)."

Tentative reading list
Clay Shirky. Here Comes Everybody.
Marcel O'Gorman. E-Crit: Digital Media, Critical Theory, and the Humanities.
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. The Social Life of Information.


as of 29 Mar 2012

Wary of repurposing and remixing cultural icons? Michelangelo and DaVinci did it. Facebook and Google too powerful - too, um, Machiavellian? Where do you think they got their business plans?

Concerned that new technologies are destroying the beauty and individuality of art? Wanna buy a camera obscura? How 'bout some nice oils? Fine brushes. I got some rare German pigments right here. Can't tell the painting from the real thing. Takes a little practice, but your 'prentice will show you how. Those kids today know everything.

Is Wikipedia is calling into question the authority of experts? Hello Galileo. Hello Newton, Hello Whitehead, Einstein, Godel, Escher, Bach.

Concerned that YouTube gives the underclass access to media and the popular audience? That Twitter gives the unwashed a soapbox? Nothing new there. Talk to the eighteenth century British and French aristocracy - like they'll listen.

Aesthetics going to hell in a hand basket? BLAST! those new kids on the block. They don't care a fig about decorum.

And the next thing you know, computer programming will be a humanities subject! Ada, Countess of Lovelace, meet Linus of Linux. Flood gates are open. Send in the amateurs.


There's no denying that digital media have changed the sense of, content of, face of the humanities from something we were comfortable with to ... something else, not so comforting, not so familiar, not so exclusive. It isn't the first time, and it won't be the last.

This course will explore what happens - has happened, is happening - when digital processes, creators, and mindsets enter the realm of the humanities.

We will survey the objects and artifacts created, the spaces, materials, tools, and processes of current digital humanities. A few recent writers will frame our survey, and we'll go looking online and off to find what we can find and consider what sense we can make of the current landscape.

Have a hand in defining where we'll go next.

Starting point: Digital Humanities Manifesto, v 2.0. Get your hands dirty.

Tentative Reading List


Others out there



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