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Digital Praxis Seminar

MALS 75400/IDS 81640
Fall 2014
CUNY Graduate Center
Thursdays 4:15pm – 6:15pm - Room C415A

Dr. Matthew K. Gold

Dr. Stephen Brier

Course Group:
Course Blog:
Course Hashtag: #dhpraxis14

DH Praxis Seminar Overview:

Aiming to ensure that new students begin thinking about digital scholarship and teaching from the moment they enter the Graduate Center, this year-long sequence of two three-credit courses introduces students to the landscape of digital humanities tools and methods through readings and classroom and online discussions, lectures offered by prominent scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to critically evaluate and to incorporate digital technologies into their academic research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored both the general field and a particular area of digital scholarship and/or pedagogy of interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and established a digital portfolio that can be used to display their work.

The two connected three-credit courses will be offered during the Fall and Spring semesters as MALS classes for master’s students and Interdisciplinary Studies courses for doctoral students. The Fall 2014 class will be co-taught by Professors Stephen Brier and Matthew Gold, with numerous guest speakers.

Fall 2014: DH Praxis Seminar

The Fall semester will introduce students to a broad range of ways of thinking about their research and teaching using digital tools and methods. Emphasis will be placed on the interdisciplinarity of, and conversations related to, digital scholarship.
Invited speakers, all prominent digital humanists, will each join the class to discuss readings and to offer workshops.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will become acquainted with the current landscape of digital academic work.
  • Students will create a social media presence and begin to prepare their own digital portfolios.
  • Students will create a proposal for a digital project for possible development in the Spring.
  • Students will become familiar with the resources available at the Graduate Center to support work on digital teaching and research projects.

Requirements and Structure:

Weekly Class Sessions and Blogging

  • Weekly readings in advance of class sessions and public presentations
  • Students are responsible for writing at least two blog posts on our course blog about our weekly readings or in-class discussions
  • Students who are not writing blog posts on a given week should comment on and respond to the posts of other students


  • We will be offering skills workshops throughout the semester. Students are responsible for attending a minimum of three workshops over the course of the semester. You are free to go to as many as you’d like pending space limitations.

Data Project

  • Students should identify a dataset of interest and explore it before the end of the semester using a digital tool such as MALLET, Gephi, R, Voyant, Juxta, ImagePlot, or Neatline, among others (many tools can be found in the DiRT Directory). Students should write one blog post describing these experiments.

Final Projects

  • Students may choose between writing a reflective course paper that discusses how new methodologies / digital tools are affecting their respective academic fields; or crafting a proposal for a digital project that might be executed with a team of students during the spring semester.


  • Regular participation in discussions across the range of our face-to-face and online course spaces is essential. A significant part of our course will involve experimentation and play with various digital humanities tools. There will also be an emphasis throughout the course on online participation through various projects and weekly online discussions that will contribute to your final grade. (30%)

  • Final paper (70%)

Immediately following the first class on August 28th, all students should register for accounts on the following sites: CUNY Academic Commons, Twitter, and Zotero.

Remember that when you register for social-networking accounts, you do not have to use your full name or even your real name. One benefit of writing publicly under your real name is that you can begin to establish a public academic identity and to network with others in your field. However, keep in mind that search engines have extended the life of online work; if you are not sure that you want your work for this course to be part of your permanently searchable identity trail on the web, you should strongly consider creating a digital alias. Whether you engage social media under your real name or whether you construct a new online identity, please consider the ways in which social media can affect your career in both positive and negative ways.

Books to Purchase:
Note: We encourage you to purchase books via this link, which costs you nothing but nets a 5 percent contribution to the Mina Rees Library for book and electronic resource purchases for the benefit of all GC students.


  • Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

  • Moretti, Franco. Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London: Verso, 2005.

  • Presner, Todd, et. al. HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2014.


  • Gold, Matthew K. Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. Book is available for free online at

Readings marked (PDF) will be made available via the Files section of our course group.

Course Schedule and Preliminary Syllabus (subject to change)

Aug. 28 - Introductions

Sept. 4 - What is DH?/Defining the Digital Humanities
* Debates in the Digital Humanities: Introduction, Part I: Defining the Digital Humanities + Matthew Kirschenbaum, “Digital Humanities As/Is a Tactical Term”

  • Gold, Matthew K. “Digital Humanities” from The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (PDF)
  • Susan Hockey, “The History of Humanities Computing” from A Companion to Digital Humanities
  • The CUNY Digital Humanities Resource Guide

Sept. 11 - Critiquing and Theorizing DH

  • Critiquing and Theorizing the Digital Humanities sections from Debates in the Digital Humanities
  • Theory and the Virtues of the Digital Humanities section of Journal of the Digital Humanities 1:1 (Winter 2011).
  • Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, “What is ‘Digital Humanities,’ and Why Are They Saying Such Terrible Things about It?”
  • Around DH in 80 Days project

Sept 18 - Everting the Digital Humanities

  • Steven E. Jones, Introduction and Chapter 1 of Emergence of the Digital Humanities (PDF)
  • Other readings TBA

Sept. 25 - No Class - GC closed for Rosh Hashanah

Oct. 2 - Distant Reading

  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees
  • Franco Moretti, “The Slaughterhouse of Literature” (PDF)
  • Matthew Jockers, Macroanalysis (selections)

Oct. 9 - Digital Pedagogy: How DH is Reshaping Teaching & Learning

  • (continued discussion of Jockers)

  • Stephen Brier, “Where’s the Pedagogy? The Role of Teaching and Learning in the Digital Humanities” and Luke Waltzer, “Digital Humanities and the ‘Ugly Stepchildren’ of American Higher Education” in Debates in the Digital Humanities ;

  • In Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics -

    • “Teaching Skills or Teaching Methodology?” - Simon Mahony and Elena Pierazzo

    • “Programming with Humanists: Reflections on Raising an Army of Hacker-Scholars in the Digital Humanities” - Stephen Ramsay

    • “Multiliteracies in the Undergraduate Digital Humanities Curriculum: Skills, Principles and Habits of Mind” - Tanya Clement

Oct. 16 - Geospatial Humanities

Oct. 23 Lev Manovich (CUNY Graduate Center) on Data Visualization

Oct. 30 - TOM SCHEINFELDT VISIT Tom Scheinfeldt (University of Connecticut) on managing DH projects


Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Modern Language Association) on scholarly communication.

Nov. 13 - Steve Jones Lecture - "The Priest and the CEO" Room 5318.05. 4:00 PM

We will be joining the ARC Seminar to hear Steve Jones, Distinguished Fellow in Digital Humanities, give a report on his book in progress. The book is "about the birth of humanities computing in 1949, when the Jesuit scholar, Father Roberto Busa, came to IBM NY to work out a collaboration for building a massive concordance to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. The story of that meeting, as told by Father Busa and others, has become the founding myth of the digital humanities, and I aim to examine the complex historical details behind the myth. I've been examining archives at IBM and the papers of Father Busa in Milan, among other materials, in order to write a kind of pre-history of DH, applying the methods of media archaeology--focused on punched card machines and early stored-program computers--and narrative history, to tell a a multilayered story about technology and interdisciplinary humanities research in the postwar era."

**Nov. 20 - Dataset presentations

Nov. 27 – No Class - GC closed for Thanksgiving)

Dec. 4 - NYPL Labs visit

Dec. 11 - Final presentations

Dec. 19 - Final paper due

Workshop Schedule

Please see the GC Digital Fellows workshop schedule - and the GCDI calendar for other workshops -