Post ID: 73

Ten reasons why we should teach DH to undergraduate students:

This is the first draft of a larger summary of my thoughts in response to teaching DH to a group of fourteen undergraduate students this semester.


1) Because these students will very likely determine the future of DH, we urgently need to illustrate to them how and why it matters, and we need to ensure their ability to distinguish between deceptively flashy surfaces (e.g. Unsworth’s charlatans) and critical, humanities-driven methodologies.

2) They are far more creative, clever, and capable than often estimated.

3) Many crave an opportunity to do and to understand significant work; given the necessary theoretical background, models, and methodological exposure, not only can they do such work, they can design and lead it.

4) Their ideas are un-tethered by overly pragmatic and pedantic considerations. Their ability to envision extraordinarily innovative projects, therefore, is boundless.

5) Digital natives may not be as technically astute as their aggregate use of technology would imply, but they can be fearless learners who bring spiritedness, insight, and energy to ostensibly stodgy endeavors like transcription and text encoding.

6) Undergraduates enjoy a vastly more flexible playing field and correspondingly different game stakes. Academics, on the other hand, are often (not always) constrained by academic survival, the demand to publish, and competing priorities such as teaching and service. Undergraduates are burdened by no such constraints and enjoy a politics-less zest for innovation; they’re free to think epically, to critique honestly, and to redefine existing boundaries.

7) Overwhelmingly, they are collaborative and open, and they enjoy using digital technologies to express themselves and their collaborative endeavors.

8) Undergraduates are poised to experience the “primary moments” in Liu’s new media life cycle: enchantment/colonization, media disenchantment, and media surmise, again and again, and they have the ability to do so with resilience and without cynicism.

9) They are, in many, many, many cases, our ultimate audience and our progeny, and they are situated to serve as critical assayers of – and partners in – DH successes and failures.

10) Because we can, whether we integrate DH within another course (e.g. literature, linguistics) or treat it as a stand-alone course comprising distinct subject-matter, and because (see 1-9 above) it matters that we do so.

[11) They continue to marvel – even while they levy pithy critique – an impressive, critical yet optimistic stance.]