Once upon a time there lived a man named James Merrill Linn.
He was a lawyer, a member of a prominent family in town, a soldier, a collector of historical factoids and memorabilia. He wrote. And wrote. He wrote letters and journals and memoirs and essays. He wrote contracts and deeds and wills. And, it seems, he saved everything. He saw himself as a witness to history, as someone whose actions and observations were of value in the documentation of that history. After his death someone in his family gathered all of these life papers together and donated them to his university, thinking - perhaps - that someone else would recognize the importance of his words and deeds.
The following is the text of a paper I was supposed to give for the "Twenty-first Century British Studies Pedagogy: Using Early Modern Digital Resources in the Classroom" panel at the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies in March 2014. Unfortunately, and at the last minute, I was unable to attend the conference so the wonderful Kim Mclean-Fiander read the response on my behalf.
In 2009’s Debates in the Digital Humanities, Matthew Kirschenbaum asked, “What is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” A variation on Kirschenbaum’s question, and one that resonates here for this panel is, “what is digital pedagogy and what does it have to do with British Studies?” This question, I think, is in many ways more complex and fraught than Kirschembaum’s.
While many assume that digital pedagogy equals technology in the classroom (everything from smart podiums to clickers to MOOCs), and while I advocate for experimentation at the assignment level (blogs, timelines, simple mapping exercises) for instructors who are “digi-curious”, I believe that the real point of difference comes when instructors make the digital an intrinsic part of course design. And yet even for dyed-in-the-wool digital humanists the incorporation of critical engagement with digital modes and methods can seem daunting. Still, I would argue that – as demonstrated by these presentations today – the digital affords us creative and (more importantly) rigorous ways to challenge our students to participate in critical and professional ways with our subject matter.
From earliest days the digital humanities have been rooted in historo-literary research, and many of the notable examples continue to focus on British subjects - canonical and extra-canonical analyses of text and context, such as the Auchinleck Manuscript, the Internet Shakespeare Editions, Mapping the English Lake District, to name but a few. Certainly projects like the Map of Early Modern London are pushing forward sophisticated and important ways to associate place and text that could not be accomplished through more traditional “analog” research methods. more "PCCBS Paper on Digital Pedagogy in British Studies"
There's writing to be done: a book chapter, a journal article, a conference paper. All due within the next two months. All on some aspect of digital pedagogy. There is a weeklong DP workshop syllabus to rebuild. Plus, Andy Famiglietti and I will be giving four brown bag lunch talks this week about ... wait for it ... As often as I say that it's not about the toolkit, there has to be a point of engagement and if that point involves talking about the toolkit and thereby helping someone figure out the how before they get to the why, then I'm ok with that. Those moments of transformation, from what to how to why, make teaching and learning so compelling. If it is only about doing a better job of introducing technology into the classroom, then ok. But I want it to be more. Where do I go from there? What the hell is it that I'm writing and talking about? What does the Digital have to do with Pedagogy? more "Where is the Digital in the Pedagogy?"