This post is part of a series of final reflections from 2017 Digital Scholarship Incubator participants.
Lauren Wilwerding: When I completed my application for the Digital Scholarship Incubator, I had a seemingly simple goal – to create a digital close reading assignment for students in my literature core. The pay-off would be designing an assignment that could be improved upon and repeated, in my own classes as well as by other teachers. I hoped the methodology would be a way for me to bridge the intimate, tactile experience of close reading so central to English literature and the linked and richly networked world of the digital humanities.
Since beginning I have learned that a platform already exists to do the sort of digital close reading I had in mind. More importantly, I have learned that the existence of this platform (hypothes.is) does not mean that the “designing” work is done for me. While previously I would have thought of designing a DH project as a technical venture, I have come to see it more holistically. In my case, in order to develop an assignment that achieves all of my classroom goals, the platform is merely a tool in for which I need to design a series of activities to make the most of it.
Prior to starting the Incubator, my understanding of digital humanities was very focused on the digital aspect – coding, programming, technical skills. Now, I have come to focus more on the humanities aspect. How can we use digital platforms and tools to serve humanities inquiries? I have been pleasantly surprised that the questions we have asked in the Incubator are familiar to me as a humanist. The Incubator has done the work of bridging my own experiences with the world of DH.
During the course of the Incubator, I have come to be more focused on my future students, as both collaborators and evaluators. By completing the assignment, my students will provide content for the project and also help me discover the ways that it can be improved. In other words, the “designing” of my DH project will be on-going each time I use it to teach. By responding to the assignment, my students will also become my audience. Is it truly interactive? Which prompts generate discussion and which don’t? How does the digital platform enhance the classroom experience?
What initially seemed like a very contained project, now seems iterative. I look forward to incorporating student feedback into successive versions.