Beyond the Seminar Paper

What follows is the short presentation I delivered tonight as part of the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative’s fall series. Mark Sample and I talked about “DH in the Classroom.” [Edit: 10/19] Mark has posted the slides and text for his fantastic talk, in which he explored the relationships between “building” and “thinking” — and made me question how I’d translate much of what I do in the classroom into an undergraduate context. The Q&A that followed our talks was among the most spirited and thoughtful of any I’ve had the pleasure of participating in. Thanks to Mark and Matt and Charlie for making the evening possible!


[SLIDE 2]History of practice-based teaching: e.g., Practices of Placemaking at Penn

[SLIDE 3] Came to TNS in 2004 – program that combined theory and practice

  • [SLIDE 4] Theory and Practice often bifurcated – separated into two separate halves of the curriculum
  • Students’ instrumentalist conception of this integration: knowing a little theory will make you a better practitioner, knowing how machines work will make you a better theorist
  • I started to allow students to complete theoretically-informed, research based creative projects in lieu of a mid-term or final paper in my seminar classes
  • Foray into project-based classes
    • [SLIDE 5] 2005: Sound & Space
    • [SLIDE 6] 2005: MSPS
    • [SLIDE 7] Larger 2005-6 MSPS project
    • [SLIDES 8-9] 2006: Media Exhibition Design
    • [SLIDE 10] 2006: Immediacy

[SLIDE 11] Praxis-based Courses: Degree of investment rarely witnessed in traditional seminar courses

  • Students had to not only grapple with, but internalize the course content – the theory – because they’d be held accountable for putting it into action.
  • Did a lot of thinking – especially for the intro-to-grad-studies lecture course I teach – about theories of praxis and theories of craft
    • Questions of STANDARDS

About this time I became aware of HASTAC & MacArthur & DH – not sure I completely identified, for reasons explained in my “DH: The Name That Does No Favors” Post – but I’m sympathetic to a number of values that seem central to the community.

[SLIDES 12-13] McPherson article: Multimodal Humanist – this term, still a mouthful, resonated more with me
[SLIDE 14]
Scrivener on when production is research
[SLIDE 15]
Question about Feedback & Evaluation — not simply so I could assign a grade, but so we could provide meaningful feedback

  • Work – particularly technical skills – were sometimes outside my area of expertise
  • How to balance weighting of form and content – “rigor” in concept or execution?
  • Individual vs. Group Accountability


[SLIDE 16] Fall 2010: Media & Materiality
[SLIDE 17]
Semester Schedule
[SLIDE 18]
Student Projects – Can look during conversation period

[SLIDE 19] Spring 2011: Libraries, Archives & Databases – touches on many DH themes

[SLIDES 20-21] Fall 2010 / 2011: Urban Media Archaeology

  • [SLIDE 22] Semester Schedule
  • [SLIDE 23] PROJECT PROPOSALS – not different from trendy “contracts”
    • Justify choice of “genre” and format – use of media tools as method
  • [SLIDES 24-25] Student Proposed Projects
    • I provide individual feedback; students post to blogs and classmates comment
  • [SLIDE 26] Learn Data Modeling
  • [SLIDE 27] User Scenarios
  • [SLIDE 28] Look inside Black Box – Software Development
  • [SLIDE 29] Pecha Kucha
    • DH projects inherently collaborative – need experts from multiple fields
  • [SLIDE 30] All the while, we’re collectively developing criteria for evaluation:
    • [SLIDE 31] By working in small groups and as a class to evaluate other “multimodal projects” + Hypercities
    • [SLIDE 32] Through individual map critiques
    • Thru Peer Review of one another’s projects
  • [SLIDE 33] Process Blogs – Self-Evaluation
    • Make public their process
      • [SLIDE 34] Discuss work w/ other public/cultural institutions – e.g., archives.
      • This semester, students are working w/ youth media centers, independent bookstores, etc.
  • [SLIDES 35-37] Practice “critical self-consciousness” – about their work processes, choice of methods, media formats, etc.
  • Hold themselves accountable for their choices
  • [SLIDE 38] Peer Evaluation: Paper Prototypes
  • Final Presentation: [SLIDE 39] My Feedback + [SLIDE 40] Students’ Peer Reviews
  • [SLIDE 41] Possible Topic for Q&A: Committee work on implications for the Dissertation


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