Spring 2020

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, tools for social media analytics, 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 3-5 page contextualizing statement 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:

  • Available on ELMS

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 (including media used in digital projects) 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 LinkedIn Learning video tutorials that we will watch in lieu of readings during certain weeks should prepare everyone in the course to use these tools. The LinkedIn Learning videos can be accessed at:

https://ter.ps/mby (for UMD students) or

https://ter.ps/mbz (for non-UMD students)

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.


  • Notes: Turn in your notes from the class readings and discussions, applying metadata and making them searchable. 5%
  • Portfolio of Digital Projects 55% for the following six projects:
    o Podcast: 10%
    o Twitter Visualization: 10%
    o Poster: 10%
    o App Prototype and Usability Study: 10%
    o Environmental DH Project: 10%
    o WordPress Portfolio: 5%
  • Participation: 5%
  • Final Research Project and Contextualizing Statement (3-5 pages): 35%

—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.



Week 1: Introduction to the Course

Jan. 30 —

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

Week 2: Internet Histories

Feb. 6 —

  • Jay David Bolter & Richard Grusin, Remediation, Ch. 2
  • Lisa Gitleman, Always Already New, Introduction
  • Manuel Castels, The Rise of Network Society, Ch. 1


Week 3: WORKSHOP: Audio Recording and Podcasts

Feb. 13 —

  • Bring your internet histories; record each other
  • Reference: LinkedIn Learning tutorial on Adobe Audition and Creating Podcasts

Week 4: Approaches to DH and Critical Making

Feb. 20 —


Week 5: Data in the Humanities

Feb. 27 —

  • Rob Kitchin, The Data Revolution, Ch. 1
  • Lisa Gitelman, ‘Raw Data’ is an Oxymoron, Introduction
  • Katherine Hayles, “Narrative and Database: Natural Symbionts,” PMLA
  • Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression, Introduction


Week 6: WORKSHOP: NVivo and Big Data Visualization

March 5 —

  • Come with a Twitter hashtag related to your research
  • Watch: NVivo tutorial on LinkedIn Learning
  • Share podcast with two others in the class.
  • In Class: Crit of Podcasts


Week 7: Networked Labor

March 12 —

  • Sarah T. Roberts, Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media, Introduction
  • Lisa Nakamaura, “Indigenous circuits: Navajo women and the racialization of early electronic manufacture.” American Quarterly 66, no. 4 (2014): 919-941.

Week 8: Spring Break

March 16-20

Week 9: 

March 26 —

  • Classes Canceled due to COVID-19

Week 10: WORKSHOP: Graphic Design 

April 2 —

  • LinkedIn Learning on Photoshop
  • In Class: Crit of Twitter Visualizations
  • DUE: Twitter Visualization

Week 11: Mobile Media and Production of Digital Space and WORKSHOP: Adobe XD and Interface Prototyping

April 9 —

  • 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”
  • Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman, Networked, ch. 5
  • LinkedIn Learning on Adobe XD

Week 12: Material Culture and Digital Media: Infrastructure Studies

 April 16 —


  • 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”
  • In Class: Crit of Posters

Week 13: Environmental DH: Repair and Maintenance

April 23 —

Week 14: WORKSHOP: Mapping Software

April 30 —

  • Mapping workshop
  • Assignment scope: creating elements map or DH map
  • In Class: Crit of Interface Designs

Week 15: Final Research Presentations

May 7 —

  • Final Presentations
  • DUE: Environmental DH Assignment 

Week 16:

  • Final Projects and Papers Due