NMAC 3999/Fall 2014

From Gerald R. Lucas

Introduction to Digital Humanities
81071 NMAC 3999.01 MW 3:30–4:50p H/SS-124: Seminar in Digital Humanities

As we increasingly begin to define ourselves through our technologies, our ways of knowing the world and our places within it must also be influenced. The classical role of the humanities, in its academic discipline and study, has always centered on how the cultural expressions of individuals and communities produced art, or the central ideas that define the “human.” The study of the humanities, then, is about how we produce meaning through our works and how we share it.

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This section of NMAC 3999 Special Topics will consider how the humanities are changing in the face of greater reliance on digital technologies. Through various courses readings, research, and discussions, we will consider the academic discipline of what we’re currently calling “Digital Humanities” and examine several cultural expressions that reflect humanity’s move into the digital world for meaning and order. We will explore the question “what does it mean to be a human in the digital age and where are we likely to head because of this ubiquitous technology”?

Course Goals

  • To develop motivated and autonomous, critical and creative thinkers.
  • To develop students’ life-long curiosity and creativity and allow them the tools they need to fulfill these endeavors.
  • To develop the students’ digital literacies and critical capacities towards several digital media.
  • To develop and enhance the students’ critical and analytical ability to read and understand the texts of thinkers in various disciplines, their contexts and significance, through and variety of pedagogical strategies.
  • To develop and enhance the students’ ability to think critically and creatively and to write and to speak effectively about the arts and culture.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate:

  • The ability to analyze and evaluate concepts in new media and communication.
  • Skills in research and writing.
  • Understanding of the given course topic.

Texts and Videos

Additional Texts

There are no additional, paper textbooks in this course. Readings will be made available as web links, PDFs, and ePUBs for your tablet. However, additional small fees might be incurred to purchase or to rent videos and texts for certain lessons. I will try to keep these expenses to a minimum. See lesson schedule below for more details.

Technology Requirements

NMAC 3999 requires all students to have a couple of social media accounts, including Twitter and Medium. A tablet for reading PDFs is convenient, but not a requirement of the course. Students must bring their own device to class; read more in the BYOD Policy.

Course Policies & Procedures

Students are held accountable for knowing and practicing each of the course policies and procedures. Consider them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t know” will carry no weight. These policies and procedures are applicable to every course I teach.

As a Middle Georgia State College student and as a student in any of my classes, it is your responsibility to read, understand, and abide by the MGSC Student Code of Conduct from the MGSC Student Handbook (PDF).

Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date, which occurs on October 16, 2013. After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” The MGSC Withdrawal Form, which is available online or in the Office of the Registrar, must be signed by the instructor in advance of withdrawal.


NMAC 3999 has several requirements for successful completion. Each requirement is worth a percentage of the students’ grades, and each must be completed for each student to pass the course. Lessons are weighted as follows: Contributions 80%; Social Media Engagement: 10%; Final Exam: 10%.


The main part of each lesson will be a contribution where students will display what they have discovered and learned during the course of the lesson. Traditionally, these would be research papers, but in the digital age, we have some many more creative ways of expressing our understanding than mere words on a page. (In fact, no words printed on dead trees will be accepted this semester.) This is your opportunity to not only show me what you’ve learned, but also to be creative in doing so.

Students may choose any digital medium in order to:

  • Develop a unique approach to the course material;
  • Present their knowledge and research in a creative way;
  • Invite participation and feedback.

Just remember two things: be creative; and support your ideas with research. The best sources will be those that were assigned for the lesson, but you are also encouraged to supplement those with others you find during your research.

Only submit your best work; always proofread and revise before turning in. Take some time to follow the directions and do it right.

Contributions will consist of the following:

  1. Course Blog — The course blog is on Medium and will ask students to contribute at least twice about subjects relating to the Digital Humanities, our discussions, readings, and discoveries.
  2. DH Project Evaluation — This evaluation will be posted to the course blog on Medium. Students will use, analyze, and review a DH resource or project. Read More »
  3. TEI Assignment — This lesson will teach the basics of XML and TEI, and using them, we will encode sections of Norman Mailer’s essay “The White Negro.”
  4. Collaboration Assignment — This assignment will develop a project using Omeka, Learnist, Genius, and/or Storify on Mailer’s “The White Negro.”

More specifics will follow.

Social Media Engagement

Practitioners of the Digital Humanities are a digitally gregarious bunch. Most of them frequent several digital platforms, from Twitter to professional blogs. This is a large and varied group, spanning interests and disciplines. The one thing they seem to have in common is their use of digital media for communication, curation, and discussion. This semester, you will join this community.

Choose at least three blogs and at least ten Twitter feeds of Digital Humanists to follow throughout the semester. Find folks working in areas that interest you. You should bring the insights that you learn into class discussions and cite them on your blog posts.

You must also be active on Twitter, engaging the community that you follow: the ideas you read about, find on the Interwebs, and discuss in class, and your own ideas that add to the conversation. Post at least twice a week, even in class. See “Intro to Twitter” and “Using Twitter” for more information.

Final Exam

A final exam will test your knowledge of the subject matter (texts, lecture material, and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize this material, and your creativity in going beyond the discussion and lecture materials. The exam will include vocabulary, concepts, and textual analysis. All exam grades will be based upon objective knowledge of the material, thoroughness, depth of insight, precision, and originality.


This schedule gives only a general overview of assignments, activities, and important dates. Specific assignments will be given in class. This schedule is tentative and subject to change. All files below marked as “PDF” are stored on Google Drive.

Defining the Digital Humanities

1: August 18 & 20

  • Course Introduction
  • Complete Humanities Basics and Online Basics

2: August 25 & 27

  • Presner, et al. “The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0” (PDF)
  • Berry, “Understanding the DH” (PDF)
  • Hayles, “How We Think: Transforming Power and Digital Technologies” (PDF)
  • Kirschenbaum, “What Is the Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” (Weblink or PDF)
  • Svenson, “Envisioning the Digital Humanities” (PDF)
  • Find at least two more texts online that define DH (There are several more in the “DHS1” folder on Google Drive). Read them and be ready to discuss them.

3: Sept 3

  • Jones, Introduction and Chapter 1 (1–38)

4: Sept 8 & 10

  • Bryant, “The Fluid Text Movement” (PDF)
  • Liu, “From Reading to Social Computing” (PDF)
  • Contribution 1 Due: Blog post on any aspect of DH, submitted to our course blog. Perhaps answer the question: What is DH? Support your post with specific evidence, cited correctly. Before posting to Medium, please be sure you take some time to familiarize yourself with the platform. A good place to begin is “Writing.” Remember, this is not an essay for dead trees, but a hypertextual, multimodal document. In other words, it should contain more than just text.

Coding Mailer

5: Sept 15 & 17

  • Mailer, “The White Negro” (EPUB or PDF) — we will want to find scholarly articles and online resources to help us with this text. We will also need these for our third and fourth projects. (See homework for week 7 below.)

6: Sept 22 & 24

  • Read: Price, “Electronic Scholarly Editions” (PDF); Smith, “Electronic Scholarly Editing” (PDF)
  • Discuss: Collaborative Project on Mailer. Should have two sections: a text encoding portion and a collaborative portion.
  • Homework: Consider the discussions about building DH projects by Bryant, Price, and Smith. What might be the best way(s) to approach digitizing Mailer’s “The White Negro”? For assistance, see some examples, and read Morgan’s and Posner’s breakdowns about approaching various DH projects; perhaps begin with DevDH or DiRT. Draft a plan to present to the class on Monday. Try to incorporate what we’ve discussed about this already. Ideas to consider: platform, editorial position, permissions, collaboration, participation, etc.

7: Sept 29 & Oct 1

  • Review: Bryant, Price, and Smith
  • Read: Warwick, “The Master Builders” (PDF)
  • Workshop: Collaboration Project — agree on approach for our Mailer WN project. Make assignments.
  • Homework: Begin research on Mailer; bring in five critical articles that address aspects of WN that fit with your assigned position of the project. Be prepared to discuss them on Monday.

8: Oct 6 & 8


9: Oct 13 & 15

  • Read: Myer, “A Really, Really, Really Good Introduction to XML” (Weblink); Meloni, “A Pleasant Little Chat about XML” (Weblink)
  • Workshop: HTML and XML Basics
  • Homework: Begin to look up resources on TEI. What is it? Why is it important to DH? Just what can we do with it? Begin with next week’s reading.

10: Oct 20 & 22

  • Read: TEI by Example (Weblink); Terras, “Teaching TEI” (PDF); Gailey, “A Case for Heavy Editing” (Weblink)
  • Review: Tools for Editing and Publishing TEI Documents (Weblink); Morgan, “My Personal TEI Publishing System” (Weblink); TEI Publisher (Weblink)
  • Workshop: HTML, XML, and TEI

11: Oct 27 & 29

  • Read: Shirky, Here Comes Everybody

12: Nov 3 & 5


13: Nov 10 & 12

  • Read: Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (Weblink); Shirky, “Does the Internet Make You Smarter?” (Weblink); Hamilton, “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again.” (Weblink); Anderson and Wolff, “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.” (Weblink)

14: Nov 17 & 19

  • Read: Darnton, “Google and the Future of Books” (Weblink); Cohen, “Data Mining Large Data Collections” (PDF); Marche, “Literature Is Not Data” (PDF)
  • Basic textual analysis using Wordle and Google’s Ngram Viewer

15: Nov 24 & 26

  • Thanksgiving Week Off

16: Dec 1 & 3

Final Exam

  • Friday, 12/12, 3:30–5:30
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