AHA Today, the blog for the American Historical Association, has published a post by Amy E. Earhart and Maura Ives (both Texas A&M), “Race, Print, and Digital Humanities: Pedagogical Approaches.” The authors describe the teaching of a graduate and undergraduate course at Texas A&M that applied “the methods of book history—enumerative bibliography and scholarly editing—to the African American literary corpus.”
Earhart and Ives’s course included both theoretical discussions and “hands on activities to engage students with concepts that arise when ‘doing’ digital humanities,” and the authors point out that class discussions often centered on the topic of access.
Another potent theme is that of materiality in publication and access to materials. The class made use of David Drake’s creation process by “creating and inscribing text on small pots that they made with modeling compound,” and examined editing as a form of activism through the editorial processes of notable works in the African American literary canon. An annotation exercise, “Book Traces,” illustrated that the impact of scholarship is not merely the published work, but how audiences receive and interact with those works, both in the moment of publication and for the lifetime of the work:
While the finding might not alter scholarship, it proved a pivotal moment for students in the course in that it linked contemporary culture to the scholarship of annotation and spurred undergraduate students like Atkinson to feel the thrill of research and discovery.
The authors’ description of several of the class assignments and discussions can provide a model for information professionals seeking to critically engage racial construction within information studies and digital scholarship.