Just as digital technologies have become embedded in almost every aspect of daily life, so too have they come to have a profound impact on scholarship and public discourse. In recognition of this paradigmatic change in our society and culture, Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement has made the critique, analysis, and use of digital technologies a central part of the program’s curriculum and project work. Within the academic world this kind of programmatic shift has come be known as the Digital Humanities (DH), a continually adapting and expanding set of questions, methods, and tools that are having a profound impact on the study of our world. The advanced inquiry of graduate-level work, the interdisciplinary nature of the program, and the commitment to alternative modes of scholarly production make XE a natural home for DH within NYU and the program is one of a number of hubs of DH work across the university.
Central to the center's offerings are two non-sequential survey-style courses, Digital Humanities: Collections and Connections and Digital Humanities: Analysis and Visualization. These courses consider questions and technologies that are fundamental to the kinds of academic inquiry made possible by the digital medium and computational methods. Through readings, discussion, workshops, projects, and prototype design, students engage with what makes DH work important and engage with digital platforms that provide rhetorical and design flexibility for making intellectual arguments.
Additionally a wide variety of courses are taught with varying levels of engagement with digital practice. Past courses have allowed students to design interactive experiences of fiction, work collaboratively with professional curators and administrators on the design of a digital exhibition, redesign a digital public history site on LGBTQ social and political life in America, and develop a group website on the role of the materiality of technologies on the experience of culture. Along with this growing repertoire of DH-focused courses, the program will also have increased DH-related programming, with speakers and events increasing students’ exposure to the many different ways that these new technologies are influencing the way we work.
DH across NYU and Beyond
As well as XE's own DH courses, a wide variety of digitally-focused courses exists across NYU. Programs such as English, History, Archives and Public History (all in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), and recently the Courant Institute, offer relevant classes for humanities graduate students. While at XE, students can also avail themselves of offerings in other schools across the university, such as the Tisch School of the Arts, Gallatin School for Individualized Study, Steinhardt School, and Tandon School of Engineering. Students interested in DH at NYU should also check out NYU's Center for Humanities and NYCDH.org, an inter-institutional regional organization that promotes DH throughout the city.
Ongoing Digital Humanities Projects
In addition to its courses and programs, XE is connected to a number of digital initiatives that provide students the opportunity to work on not only classroom projects but also ongoing projects in the worlds of public history, cultural heritage, and publishing. Below is a listing of the various projects:
Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk Road
This digital exhibition, developed by the Freer|Sackler Asian Art Galleries of the Smithsonian Institute, will tell the story of the Sogdians, a highly influential mercantile people from Central Asia (2nd-9th c. AD) that influenced culture across Asia and helped develop the trade routes that came to be known as the Silk Road. In collaboration with curators at the Smithsonian, XE students have had a unique opportunity through classes and internships to help shape this innovative global digital art history project.
Under the direction of Jonathan Katz, renowned scholar of LGBTQ history, Outhistory.org has become an important site for telling the story of queer people in America. Faculty (professor Keramidas is one of the Co-directors of OutHistory.org) and students at XE are not only participating in redesigning the site, but are rethinking what it means to develop a public history site for queer people on the web in the 21st century.
A collaboration between XE professor Kimon Keramidas, and faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Cincinnati, History Moves combines graphic design, digital humanities, and public history to shape new modes of storytelling. Through prototype design and proposal writing in DH-courses at XE, students on the History Moves project are studying how digital methods can help establish collaborative participant-driven relationships with communities in ways that allow them to better tell their own stories.
XE DH Resources
Links to course sites from DH-focused XE courses:
- Citizenship in the Digital Age (course site coming soon) (Upcoming Fall '18)
- Science Fiction: Humanity, Technology, the Present, the Future (course site) (Upcoming Fall '18, Fall ’16)
- Physical, Electrical, Digital: How Media Technology Has Shaped the Way We Experience Culture (course site | project site) (Spring '18, Fall’ 15)
- Queering the Web: A Practical, Digital Inquiry into the History of Gender and Sexuality (course site) (Spring ’17)
- Telling the Sogdian Story: A Freer|Sackler Digital Exhibition Project (course site | project site) (Spring ’16)