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Course Manifesto

Doing digital work can sometimes seem intimidating. It can be scary to imagine that anyone will be able to see your work online, and you might be nervous about how people will respond to it. It can also be intimidating when scholarship and resources use complicated words for simple concepts.

However, the digital humanities can also be an exciting, cutting-edge place to ask and answer new questions about contemporary and historical culture and experiences. Through collaboration and some core principles, we will learn about digital methods, conduct research, and share our insights in and beyond the college community.

In this course, we will abide by a set of values and commitments to each other: 

  1. We have the right to privacy. This means that you can decide to not publish anything online for any reason. For example, you might want to get feedback on a blog post before revising and publishing it on your WordPress site. You might choose to draft your blog post in WordPress, and submit a screen shot of the unpublished page rather than publish it online. You might also choose to “password protect” your WordPress site and grant access only to your colleagues in the class. You may decide that you prefer to use a different name to contribute to the course Omeka webpage and remain anonymous on the contributors list. We will talk more about privacy, online identity, and alternate submission methods in class.

  2. We respect our colleagues and others online. Just as it is perfectly acceptable to differ or disagree with your colleagues in the classroom, it is fine to offer a different perspective or interpretation of materials in comments on your colleagues’ blog posts. However, these comments should be the same in tone and content as what you would say while sitting next to your colleagues in a classroom. All the college’s conduct policies apply to online communications for this course as they would to face-to-face discussions. 

  3. We avoid “jargon.” Jargon is a fancy word for fancy words. Just like any academic field, the Digital Humanities has its own language to describe particular concepts. Among those that know the language, this can be useful to speed up conversation. However, it also excludes those scholars and students who don’t yet speak the language. As teacher, I commit to explaining terms or concepts with plain words when I introduce them in class. As student, you commit to explaining any terms that you introduce in class to your colleagues, and to asking for clarification at any time if the meaning of a term or concept is not clear. We also will work to avoid jargon when we write online. Throughout the course, we will discuss who our audience might be and how we can write for a broad readership.

  4. We “fail” in the pursuit of learning. One of the parts of doing digital and online work that can be the most terrifying is the idea that you might “break” the website by clicking on the wrong button or entering the wrong information. We will learn how to backup our work, and use the backup if something goes wrong. We may deliberately “break” our pages as we practice editing them, but we will always plan a way to go back to the original before we start. When we do face challenges, we will help each other in the classroom, and share helpful resources.

  5. We acknowledge our sources and contributors. We will discuss how techniques for citations in online work (linking to other pages, block quoting, linked notes, etc.) differ from those for written work (footnotes, endnotes, parentheticals). We also will talk about “fair use” of images or other media, and how to acknowledge copyright in different circumstances. All college community standards apply to digital and online work as they would to written work.