Description: Digital Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and teaching that combines the critical study of new forms of digital media, culture, and identity with creative practices and the application of computational tools to areas of humanistic study. While it is often hands-on or applied, Digital Studies also demands approaches that are primarily critical, theoretical, speculative, or experimental—imaginative—in nature. Broadly speaking then, Digital Studies is a response to the widespread influence of digital media across nearly every aspect of contemporary life; more specifically, it recognizes that teaching, research, and scholarship in the arts and humanities cannot and will not remain isolated from the networks, platforms, and media providers all around us.

This course is designed to introduce you to several different (and divergent) topics and practices in this diverse, complex, and rapidly changing area. This course will also ask you to learn several digital design platforms (WordPress, Audcity, the Adobe Creative Cloud, mobile prototyping software, and mapping software) and develop your skills on these platforms over the semester. Rather than approaching DH through the lens of “every DH scholar must know how to code,” this course approaches our topics through the lens of “making is a mode of thinking.” You will turn in small projects and ultimately turn in a final digital project that expresses the ideas from a section in this course through a hands-on creation. Accompanying this digital project, you will turn in a 5-8 page contextualizing paper that discusses the reasoning behind this project and the texts it is engaging.

Lastly, you should know that Digital Studies is a rubric that has emerged alongside of various other disciplinary formations to name the academic humanities’ engagements with digital media over (at least) the last several decades. It is thus coterminous (though not necessarily interchangeable) with Digital Humanities, as well as Humanities Computing, New Media Studies, and Comparative Media, among others. We will not overly fixate on nomenclature as its own end, but you should be mindful that these different terms exist.

No special skills are necessary or assumed other than a willingness to experiment and learn. MITH 610 is a requirement for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies in Arts and Humanities (DSAH). It is not available for 700-level seminar credit.

Required Texts:

  • Jay David Bolter & Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media
  • Lisa Gitleman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture
  • Katherine Hayles: How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics
  • Nichole Starosielski, The Undersea Network
  • Tarleton Gillespi, Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media
  • Sarah Sharma, In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics
  • Melissa Gregg, Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan: Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy (ebook available on library website)
  • Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish
  • Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Assignments:  Reading assignments are listed on the day they will be discussed in class. You are expected to arrive to class having read the works listed. You must cite all of your sources accurately according to MLA, APA, or Chicago style and type all work in Times New Roman, 12-point font. Any plagiarized work will receive an “F” and may lead to a failing grade for the course. All late work must be approved by the instructor or will not be accepted.

Digital Projects: Throughout the semester, we will explore the course ideas and theories through the hands-on creation of several digital projects. No prior experience or skills are necessary to succeed at these projects; instead, you are expected to learn the basics of several platforms in order to create a project that reflects the course ideas. We will set aside a significant amount of in-class time to workshop these tools. This, coupled with the Lynda.com video tutorials that we will watch in lieu of readings during certain weeks should prepare everyone in the course to use these tools. The Lynda.com videos can be accessed at:

https://www.lynda.com/SharedPlaylist/d96d921fbacb407b9199b435bd03de57

These projects seek to demonstrate that making is a mode of thinking and that there are certain ideas/questions that can only be accessed through hands-on creation. You will not be graded on the sophistication or mastery of these tools; instead, I will be looking to see that you put forth the effort in trying to learn the platform and express an idea through that medium. Projects can be submitted on ELMS (under Assignments) and should also be posted to your WordPress portfolio (which we will set up on the first day of class). Please allow yourself ample time to learn the platform and create your projects. Late work is not accepted unless approved by the professor ahead of time.

Final Research Project and Paper: You are expected to expand your expertise in a given digital tool (either one of the tools we have learned in the course or a different one that you have wanted to learn) and express one of the course ideas/theories through this medium. Your final project should demonstrate a level of mastery and sophistication with course ideas that moves beyond the expectations of the smaller digital projects completed throughout the semester. Your project must be approved ahead of time by the professor. You will present an overview of your project in a 5-minute presentation (followed by 5 minutes of Q&A) during Week 15.

Grading:

  • Notes: Turn in your notes from the class readings and discussions, applying metadata and making them searchable. 10%
  • Portfolio of Digital Projects 30% for the following six projects:
    • Podcast: 5%
    • App Prototype: 5%
    • Mobile Phone Repair Video: 5%
    • Poster and Logo: 5%
    • Surveillance Map: 5%
    • WordPress Portfolio: 5%
  • Participation: 10%
  • Research Prospectus and Presentation: 10%
  • Final Research Project and Contextualizing Paper (5-8 pages): 40%

—Please Note: This syllabus is subject to change at any time according to the professor’s discretion. The assignments below may also include readings handed out in class, which each student is responsible for completing.

 

Schedule

Week 1: Introduction to the Course

Jan. 31 —

  • Introduction and Course Overview
  • Defining the digital; or, what’s new about “new media”?
  • Set up WordPress Portfolio

 

Week 2: Internet Histories

Feb. 7 —

  • Jay David Bolter & Richard Grusin, Remediation
  • Lisa Gitleman, Always Already New
  • Manuel Castels, The Rise of Network Society (Selections)

  

Week 3: WORKSHOP: Audio Recording and Podcasts

Feb. 14 —

  • Lynda.com on Audacity (see course playlist)
  • Bring your internet histories, record each other 

 

Week 4: Bodies at the Interface

Feb. 21 —

  • Katherine Hayles: How We Became Posthuman
  • Alluquere Rosanne Stone, “Split Subjects, Not Atoms; or, How I Fell In Love with My Prosthesis.”
  • Vivian Sobchack, “A Leg to Stand On: Prosthetics, Metaphor, and Materiality,” from Carnal Thoughts.

 

Week 5: Mobile Media & Space (WORKSHOP: App Prototyping)

Feb. 28 —

  • Adriana de Souza e Silva, “From Cyber to Hybrid”
  • Rich Ling, “Theorizing Mobile Communication in the Intimate Sphere.”
  • Sarah Murray and Megan Sapnar Ankerson, “Lez Takes Time: Designing Lesbian Contact in Geosocial Networking Apps”
  • Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman, Networked, ch. 5
  • Download POP – Prototyping on Paper app to your phone
  • InVision videos and mobile defaults in Photoshop
  • Share podcast with two others in the class. We will discuss them in Week 7.
  • DUE: PODCASTS 

 

Week 6: Material Cultures of the Digital: Repair and E-Waste

March 7 —

 

Week 7: Video Production, Editing, and Publishing

March 14 —

Jason at SCMS Conference

  • Lynda.com videos
  • Debrief: Listen to podcasts and discuss in small group; usability test each other’s app prototypes.
  • DUE: APP PROTOTYPES

 

Week 8: Spring Break

March 18-22

  • Repair someone’s mobile phone screen and create a fix-it video, posting it to YouTube.

 

Week 9: Space, Place, and Infrastructure

March 28 —

MEETING WILL TAKE PLACE IN ASHBURN, VA AT EQUINIX DATA CENTER

  • Nichole Starosielski, The Undersea Network
  • Paul Ceruzzi, Internet Alley (Selections)
  • Geoffrey Bowker, et al, “Toward Information Infrastructure Studies: Ways of Knowing in a Networked Environment.”
  • Lisa Parks, “ ‘Stuff You Can Kick’: Toward a Theory of Media Infrastructures”

 

Week 10: Networked Labor, Part 1

April 4 —

  • Tarleton Gillespi, Custodians of the Internet
  • Christian Fuchs, “Labor in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet.”
  • Nakamura, Lisa. “Indigenous circuits: Navajo women and the racialization of early electronic manufacture.” American Quarterly 66, no. 4 (2014): 919-941.

 

Week 11: Networked Labor, Part 2: Temporalities of the Digital

April 11 —

  • Sarah Sharma, In the Meantime
  • Melissa Gregg, Counterproductive
  • DUE: REPAIR VIDEOS (and share with two others in the class)

 

Week 12: WORKSHOP: Graphic Design for Social Justice

April 18 —

  • Lynda.com videos for Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Debrief: Crit on videos

 

Week 13: Social Media and Surveillance (WORKSHOP: Google Maps)

April 25 —

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan: Anti-Social Media
  • Anders Albrechtslund, “Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance” First Monday https://firstmonday.org/article/view/2142
  • Mapping data on Google Maps. Map surveillance cameras on campus.
  • Debrief: Crit on posters and logos

 

Week 14: Identity and Big Data

May 2 —

  • Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish
  • Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Oppression
  • DUE: POSTER AND LOGO

 

Week 15: Final Research Presentations

May 9 —

  • Final Presentations
  • DUE: SURVEILLANCE MAP

 

Week 16:

Final Projects and Papers Due

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