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Undergraduate Students and Digital Humanities Belonging: Metaphors and Methods for Including Undergraduate Research in DH Communities

By: Emily Christina Murphy & Shannon R. Smith

How can alternate histories of Digital Humanities (DH) through feminist criticism, participatory art, and design, shape undergraduate pedagogy? In this article, we argue for explicitly employing a “scholar-citizen” model as a principle of pedagogical design, making explicit many of the latent assumptions of DH belonging and community. By adhering to these design principles we have been able to question some of the assumptions of pedagogical theories like Research Based Learning and public–facing scholarship, demonstrating these theories’ complex relationships with public, semi–public, or private dissemination, classroom and non–classroom spaces, complexity of the assigned task, and the role of assessment. Our experiences as Director and Assistant Director for a combined Summer intensive undergraduate Field School in DH occasion this article.

In the short history of Digital Humanities pedagogy, arguments for the transferability of DH skillsets permeate the field. The pragmatic motivations for these arguments are clear. We live in a time of proscribed employment prospects across humanistic disciplines, whether that employment consists of academic, journalistic, or artistic pursuits. The humanities finds themselves defending their utility, and as a scholarly community we insist upon the desirability of skill sets gained through the study of the Humanities. DH pedagogy can be said–whether in praise or as a point of criticism–to respond to the current crisis of the humanities. Its emphasis on collaboration and project–based learning stems from the labour practices of DH scholarship, namely, the project and the need to employ research assistants on those projects. In both the research project and in the classroom, DH frequently aims to provide undergraduate students with transferable skills. (Read More)