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Proposal for Independent Study – Winter 2011

ENGL499: Independent Study: Inquiring into Digital Humanities (Honors Thesis)

1. Rationale for the Independent Study

This independent study provides an introduction to the emerging interdisciplinary field of Digital Humanities. The course itself underpins a senior honors thesis concerned with Digital Humanities.

2. Objectives for the Independent Study

To survey key concepts and influential scholars (e.g., writers, thinkers, programmers, designers) in Digital


To establish a framework through which to envision and undertake Digital Humanities projects in coordination with an Information Studies MA/MS program of study.

To identify existing and in-progress Digital Humanities projects, and to analyze the motives, rationale, and exigencies to which they respond.

To situate Digital Humanities in relationship to the fields of Internet and Information Literacies (IIL), Information Studies, and Library Sciences.

To research and evaluate selected theories and methods in Digital Humanities.

3. Readings/Texts/Other Materials

1. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth, eds. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. Online at

2. The New Media Reader. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

3. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Matthew G. Kirschenbaum. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

4. Hacking the Academy. Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, 2010. Online at

4. Nature of the Study

This study will consist of reading, writing, and conversation convened on a regular basis throughout the semester. We will return recursively to larger organizing concepts and questions as we read work in Digital Humanities and examine established and in-progress Digital Humanities projects.

5. Topical Outline

Topics of special interest include

A. What are the Digital Humanities?

B. What must Digital Humanities scholars know about technical processes? About specific disciplines or

knowledge domains? About the political and cultural status of the humanities?

C. What are points of convergence (established or unexplored) among Digital Humanities and

Information Studies?

6. Role of Professor

The professor will offer perspectives and questions related to readings, conversations, and the student's developing thesis draft.

7. Frequency of meetings with professor

One hour, weekly throughout the Winter 2011 semester.

8. Papers Written/Other forms of evaluation A 30-45 page (or the equivalent) honors thesis, to include multimodal elements (e.g., blog entries and other forms of digital writing).

9. Proposed Bibliography See #3 above.