Digital Humanities in the Classroom – Medieval-Style Critique and Production

Update: I have now posted the slides for the talk below

In a few weeks, I will be a part of a roundtable presentation and discussion session at the upcoming Medieval Studies conference in Kalamazoo. In advance of the session. I wanted to share the abstract for my remarks. For the session itself, I will update this post with the slides. Looking forward to it!

The Pedagogy of Digital Editions (A Roundtable)
International Congress on Medieval Studies
May 9-12, 2019
Kalamazoo, MI

Medieval manuscripts outside of a digital context are rarely available for students to engage with, especially at institutions without large physical holdings. Through the digitization and visibility of medieval manuscripts in recent years and the role of memes in social media, some of the mystery of manuscripts have broken down. Eric Kwakkel’s cat paw print manuscript image went viral, and marginalia and illuminations circulate around Twitter and pop up in popular media regularly (e.g. The Toast’s articles on monks). These practices of creating memes and taking snippets of medieval manuscripts and compiling and remixing them in the digital is very much a medieval practice – a compendium and commentary unto itself – and an opportunity for bringing the medieval and the digital into the classroom.

A unit about editing in a writing class can bring together questions of copyright, citation, layout, and other editing processes by examining digital editions of medieval manuscripts (e.g. Piers Plowman) and then having the students create an edition of their own. Students could mark up a text in TEI, or they could compare multiple transcriptions using Juxta, or they could create a compendium in Tumblr, for example. By giving students choices for making an argument about what a digital edition means to them and creating their own, they can be creative while supporting their decisions with an editor’s statement. This is just one example of how digital editing can be brought into a classroom as a unit or a single assignment within a course.

In this roundtable presentation, I will briefly discuss the opportunity of integrating DH into the classroom and its relationship to medieval manuscripts, share this proposed assignment, and finally share a bit of my own experience teaching a fully digital humanities course. While my own course does not cover medieval content, I do focus on the importance of DH training in a liberal arts education. I introduce my students to a range of DH methods over the semester and task them with creating their own project. The liberal arts are about deconstructing meaning from culture and critiquing representation, and I train my students to do just that by analyzing DH projects and then challenge them to create one of their own. This blend of critique and creation is at the core of a liberal arts education, whether digital or otherwise. By incorporating DH methods into our pedagogy, we are providing our students with new ways of breaking down the material they are encountering and giving them additional options for critiquing and making their own medieval-style remixes and editions.


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