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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
Humanities.
• 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 http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/
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
http://hackingtheacademy.org/

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.