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Making Space

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This afternoon, I made space. Space for what? I made space on my bookshelf – for books. I know what you’re thinking, and I agree – this is not newsworthy, in and of itself. The significance of this particular space making, however, is that the books are for my very first graduate course, and not just any graduate course. This course is on digital humanities research methods within the context of my own research as a historian. A year after completing my Ph.D., I am elated and terrified at this prospect.

If this was “merely” a graduate level history course, I would a be slightly nervous, but the prospect of blending history, legit digital research skills, and critical pedagogy is leaving me a rather weak in the knees. And yes, those skills include a foundation in programming. Software only takes a researcher so far, and even to use most of the available software, an understanding of what it’s doing for you, as well as its limits, is an essential component of a twenty-first century research. This course takes a deep dive into skills that, as of this moment, I am still developing myself but that I believe will best serve my students in their own graduate programs and their careers beyond – whatever they may be.

In this fall semester, it is my hope that students leave this course with experience in

  • digital project management
  • collaborative (digital) research
  • identifying, gathering, preparing, and analyzing humanities data
  • Python for text mining and text analysis
  • visual text analysis
  • digital tools for close reading
  • network visualization
  • command line
  • git hub, and
  • basic website development

within a specific scholarly context. While students may not have expertise in all of these areas by the end of the course, my objective is that they will have developed enough confidence in themselves as digital scholars to apply their newly developed skills to their own research and to augment their skillset.

Like most professors, I’m still working on the syllabus this summer, but I will share it as soon as its complete, along with reflections and lessons learned throughout the semester as often as my full-time-plus schedule allows.

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