MITH launched exciting curricular initiatives this past year, with the hiring of Purdom Lindblad as Assistant Director for Innovation and Learning and with Matthew Kirschenbaum taking on a new role as Director of the Digital Studies in Arts and Humanities (DSAH–pronounced DASH!) Graduate Certificate. These new activities complement MITH’s established role as a research institute and offer a preview of directions for our future work.
DSAH offers graduate students a chance to combine the critical study of new forms of digital media and identity with creative and analytical practices utilizing digital media as well as the application of computational tools and techniques to traditional areas of humanistic study. All students complete two core courses: MITH 610, Introduction to Digital Studies, the DSAH Colloquium in Digital Studies, MITH 729, as well as a “praxis” course and other electives. MITH staff, Raff, Ed, and Purdom, have worked closely with Matt to develop and co-teach modules for MITH 610. These modules draw on the day-to-day work and expertise at MITH on topics such as TEI and scholarly editing, network analysis, and data storytelling.
DSAH students, and any student interested in digital scholarship, have a myriad of opportunities to participate in the rich extra-curricular environment for digital studies at Maryland. These opportunities include the African American History, Culture, and Digital Humanities initiative, AADHum, which features a reading group and Incubator series, MITH’s Digital Dialogues, and special events, such as the 2017 Society for Textual Scholarship conference. Matt says, “The DSAH Certificate has already proven tremendously exciting and rewarding to direct. It represents an extremely diverse and talented intellectual community. It feels as if there’s a real cohort there, which, together with the participants in AADHum, has been truly energizing.” The current DSAH cohort come from English, Women’s Studies, American Studies, Communication, Theatre/Performing Arts, and the iSchool, enriching interdisciplinary conversations while encouraging focused digital work within each student’s home discipline.
As one of the sponsors of DSAH, MITH is committed to providing another home base on campus for students working in digital studies. This year MITH hosted DSAH students collaborating on creative and experimental research. Jeffrey Moro, Setsuko Yokoyama, Kyle Bickoff, and Andy Yeh recently presented their experimental research on 3D printing at the 2017 R-CADE symposium. Their panel, Critical Unmaking: DRM, Proprietary Networks, and Versioning Variances in 3-D Printing Technologies, responds to a growing “blackboxing” of technology, and interrogates paths through which to productively break down and break open the 3-D printer across a variety of critical lenses and methodologies. Robert Burgard and Brittni Ballard spent the Spring semester pursuing a project titled “A Conspiracy of Fake News: Linguistic Links between Fake News and Conspiracy Theory.” The main goal is to ascertain whether a link exists between those who write fake news and those who write conspiracy theories. The project will examine rhetorical techniques found in both to determine any commonalities and will involve fieldwork and interviews with people working in various dis-information fields such as UFO sightings and Ghost Hunters. The objective is to produce a publishable paper as well as develop a tool to identify whatever linguistic links are revealed.
Beyond DSAH, Purdom is leading MITH’s expanding curricular initiatives, including MITH 388, Internship in Digital Humanities. The internship, now enrolling for Fall 2017, introduces students to the theory and practice of digital research either through a small project of their own or as contributors to existing MITH research initiatives. This year’s interns, Elliot Frank and Cooper Kidd, are contributing to DocNow. Elliot is exploring the use of Jupyter notebooks as a way to document how to collect and analyze data from the Twitter API. He is specifically looking at how to extract cliques of users within a specific individual’s social network to see if it can provide insight into a discipline such as the digital humanities. Cooper, worked through preliminary Python modules and is working on a sociological examination of learning a new technology. Cooper’s work will help MITH restructure ways of introducing students to technical skills.
We’re excited to explore how these curricular initiatives can foster new and exciting work by our local community of students and faculty.