13. Integrating Archival Research into the DH Classroom

Instructor: Diane Jakacki

Classroom: Zavitz 406

Teaching with archives in digital humanities contexts is certainly challenging, but can be extremely rewarding to both students and instructors. When we invite students to engage critically with historical and hard-to-access materials, we engage them in sophisticated, and often transformative learning experiences. The challenge lies in figuring out how to meld these transformative pedagogical experiences of discovery with curricular frameworks. How do we establish best practices for interacting with and negotiating manuscripts, documents, images, maps (especially when that interaction is digital rather than material)? How invested do we want students to become in the research process? How do we adapt the DH methods we use in our own research so that we can properly apply them in a classroom setting? In this course, participants will:

  • develop effective strategies for designing assignments rooted in activities that we undertake when we use archival materials in our research: documentation, transcription, encoding, analysis, and re/presentation;
  • survey research-based learning courses being taught at graduate and undergraduate levels to articulate best practices for meeting curricular expectations;
  • consider how to contextualize these materials and the students' negotiation of them to support larger course objectives and learning goals;
  • examine different models for incorporating archives into single assignments and semester-long projects, and the trade-offs of interjecting team assignments as well as individual work when negotiating complex and unfamiliar materials and media.

Using a selection of prepared archival datasets (participants are welcome to bring their own materials if they so choose), we will apply particular DH methods (e.g., textual analysis, data and spatial visualization) and experiment with tools and platforms designed for archival work that are particularly well suited to a variety of classroom environments. Participants should expect to come away from the course with developed assignments and models for assessment.