In addition to the specific courses and initiatives below, I’ve written a number of posts here on the blog about my approach to pedagogy:
How do you measure a book? Can machines read? Do we read prose texts now the way people read them in 1919 or in 1819? We are swimming in textual data that could change our understanding of the written word - if you have the right tools and know how to access and work with it. What could you learn to do with all these different forms of textuality, with all this data? Can you find connections between your current interests in literature and the perspectives that technology opens up, or the goals of your career?
This course is meant to give you practice with a variety of methods and real-world scenarios to help you participate in digital projects, using both prepared materials and your own. The course fulfills an elective in the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities (DH). We want to introduce you to literary computational methods as part of digital humanities, no matter what previous familiarity you might have. You will find any of your previous studies of literature highly relevant and useful for participating in this course. No one needs to be or to become a programmer. You will begin with your own interests and skills and help us encounter, together, specific methods of digital reading or ways to analyze and visualize the data of texts, including topic modeling and XML markup.
There is room in our plans for us to consider how our methods could be applied for selected writers or literary works or genres that you want to write about or work on, or that you have encountered in other courses or personal reading. A focus on literary DH in this course doesn’t cover the entire spectrum of possibilities for digital research. We hope you will be interested to inquire further, and follow your paths with different tools and methods beyond this course.
The Praxis Program is a project of the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia Library. The program funds a team of six University of Virginia graduate students from a variety of disciplines to apprentice with us each academic year. Under the guidance of Scholars’ Lab faculty and staff, they design and create a full-fledged digital humanities project or software tool.
Recognizing that up-to-date methodological training is often absent or catch-as-catch-can for humanities graduate students, the Praxis Program was conceived as an opportunity to experiment with an action-oriented curriculum live and in public. We situate our program in a larger conversation about the changing demands of the humanities in a digital age.
As the Head of Student Programs in the Scholars’ Lab, I’m the primary shaper and administrator of the program each year. But the program is truly a collaborative effort that draws upon the expertise and teaching abilities of each person in the Lab.
Praxis is the Scholars’ Lab program I have the most explicit hand in, but we do an awful lot of other stuff!
As the Head of Student Programs, I advise generally on pedagogy, act as instructor and mentor for some of the programs, and think broadly about how all our programming fits together. I also do my best to advocate for the pedagogical work done by my colleagues and to create spaces in which they can do the teaching they want to do in the way they want to do it. Check out the for students page on the Scholars’ Lab website for further examples of the kinds of programs that our staff are involved in. To get a general sense of the pedagogical spirit that we bring to our students, read our student programs charter.
This course considers literary experiment instigated by the Internet and exercised on both analogue and digital platforms. When we think of “hacking,” we frequently think of solitary computer programmers in dark rooms. But hacking also implies a culture of profane disruption that closely mirrors developments in literary experimentation over the last seventy years. In this course, we will explore how new media affects the potential for literary experiment in the form of the printed book and how digital explorations offer new ways of engaging with textuality. We will read literature of and about the Internet as well as older texts that serve as precursors for the literary experiments of today. Authors include John Barth, Jean Baudrillard, Jorge Luis Borges, William Gibson, Kenneth Goldsmith, Seth Grahame-Smith, Shelley Jackson, Tom McCarthy, Vladimir Nabokov, and Mark Sample. In this course, we will act as scholar practitioners, reading, writing, and thinking critically, but also experimenting with forms, media, and technology. We will become textual hackers ourselves, exploring literary experiment in a variety of hands-on forms. Assignments include two papers and four digital or analog “hacks”: a Twine hypertext story, a cut up literature experiment, a Time Mapper spatial project, and a Twitter bot.
Note: I left W&L before being able to teach this course.
Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style.
In this course, we will examine the legal, social, and economic pressures regularly exercised on us by various groups, not all of them benign, as we live our digital lives. In particular, we will explore writing as a means of taking back control in a world that is increasingly surveilled and policed. How can we become not only responsible digital consumers but also active contributors to publicly unfolding humanist pursuits on the Internet? What happens when Big Brother stops watching and starts reading? A variety of sources, journalistic, public, and academic will frame course discussions, and we will also explore a few digital humanities methods for critically examining digital information. In addition to extensive practice with critical writing, the course will also offer an option for pitching and crafting a piece of writing for a public venue. (FW Walsh)
This course examines the intersection between scandal, crime and spectacle in nineteenth-century France and Britain. We will discuss the nature of scandals, the connection between scandals and political change, and how scandals and ideas about crime were used to articulate new ideas about class, gender and sexuality. In addition, this class will cover the rise of new theories of criminality in the 19th century and the popular fascination with crime and violence. Crime and scandal also became interwoven into the fabric of the city as sources of urban spectacle. Lastly, we will have an opportunity to discuss how issues of crime, scandal and spectacle resonate in the 21st century. Some of the particular topics we will cover include the Diamond Necklace Affair, the trial of Oscar Wilde, the Jack the Ripper murders, and the birth of detective fiction.
Through this course, students will be introduced to text analysis and data mining for the humanities. This course assumes no prior knowledge of these skills, but asks: how can newly developed technologies that allow computers to “read” large quantities of text shed light on the past? Students will work in groups throughout the course of the term to complete a digital history project that analyzes an element of the 19th century fascination with crime and scandal.
Our attempt to adapt the principles of the Praxis Network to the particular liberal arts context at Washington and Lee, our undergraduate fellowship gives students the opportunity to develop digital projects of their own design in collaboration with digital humanities faculty and with each other. In addition, fellows receive teaching and outreach opportunities to present their own digital humanities work at conferences and elsewhere on campus. Each fellowship experience is tailored to the individual students.
This themed freshman writing course is based around various forms of the musical from the 1950’s to the present. Beginning with a broad consideration of the role of arts in the marketplace and public life, the course then examines more “classic” musicals alongside newer works as a way of discussing the musical’s continued and evolving relevance to everyday American life. The course familiarizes students with a variety of different genres of real world writing, print and digital: the academic article, the book chapter, the newspaper article, the blog post, and the comment thread, to name a few. We discuss the challenges of each uniqe mode in the service of distilling the expectations of readers in an academic and professional setting. The musicals: Singin’ in the Rain, The Muppets, West Side Story, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Glee, Pitch Perfect, and several music videos as distant cousins of the form.
This seminar focuses on post-WWII American films made about or for teenagers and adolescents. The changing conceptions of aging, maturity, and American identity on screen form the crux of our discussion, and the course explores these topics in relation to race and rituals of belonging, sexuality and body horror, and the commodification of youth and American identity.
The films included, roughly, one from each decade since the 1950’s: The Wild One, West Side Story, Carrie, and The Breakfast Club. The students selected the films for the ’90s and ’00s, and they chose 10 Things I Hate About You and 21 Jump Street.
This course examines dystopian and post-apocalyptic scenarios from film, texts, and graphic narratives around the turn of the twenty-first century. Discussions of how alternative futures shape and elaborate concerns of the present will form the crux of our discussions, which will include such topics as zombie apocalypse and class anxiety, young adult dystopias and juvenile delinquency, nuclear war and superhero mythology, and technological terror and informational privacy. Tackling these topics across a variety of media will also allow us to assess the power of presentation to shape our understanding of controversial issues — and of our own future. Texts included two novels, two films, and two graphic novels: The Handmaid’s Tale, Ender’s Game, 28 Days Later, Battle Royale, Red Son, and Y: The Last Man.
From UVA’s course description:
A literary history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, spanning the period between the epic of Milton and the rise of Modernism. The course is a study in landmark events, including the rise of the novel, the epoch of Romanticism, the age of Victoria, and the emergence of American literature as collaborator (and competitor) with the English tradition. It’s also an encounter with notable writers, – among them Fielding, Austen, Blake, Keats, Dickens, Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot and Wilde. The method of the course will be to ask students to concentrate on a limited number of memorable texts and to offer wider contexts within the lectures. We’re particularly interested in arguments for the place of reading, literature, and the humanities in a digital age. English majors, possible English majors, and non-English majors all warmly welcome.
From UVA’s course description:
A survey of the first half of Shakespeare’s career, concentrating on the comedies and histories. We will pay particular attention to Shakespeare’s treatment of romantic love and political life as subjects. Three 5-page papers and a final examination will be required.
From UVA’s course description:
An upper-level course in academic and professional writing. In this course, students learn to control and produce a range of stylistic and persuasive effects. Combining a weekly lecture with a weekly small-group studio session, the course is designed for students who want to further hone their own writing skills, as well as for students preparing for managerial careers in which they will be responsible for the writing produced by their colleagues. In the lectures, students explore recent research in writing studies. In the workshop-based studio sessions, students propose, write, and edit projects of their own design. (Meets second writing requirement.)
From UVA’s course description:
The final stage of the English Department’s three-part sequence of literary history, ENGL 3830 will follow the fate of a long tradition as it crossed the twentieth century. The course will begin with the modernist achievement of James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and T.S. Eliot. It will then widen its scope to engage important” writing from Africa, India and the Caribbean, including the work of Derek Walcott, Chinua Achebe, and Arundhati Roy. ENGL 383 attempts to reflect the rich literary legacy that our new millennium inherits.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Other Tales
William Butler Yeats, Selected Poems and Four Plays
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Donald Barthelme, Snow White
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979
Sylvia Plath, Ariel
Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance