digital pedagogy is about breaking stuff: toward a critical digital humanities pedagogy

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Digital Pedagogy is about Breaking Stuff: Toward a Critical Digital Humanities Pedagogy Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) Photo by Jacson Querubin

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Post on 17-Aug-2014




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Pedagogy is not just a delivery device for the digital humanities. It should be at the core of what the digital humanities is as an academic discipline.


Digital Pedagogy is about Breaking Stuff: Toward a Critical Digital Humanities Pedagogy

Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer)

Photo by Jacson Querubin

Photo by flickr user Theen Moy

Pedagogy is not just a delivery device for the digital humanities. It should be at the core of what the digital humanities is as an academic discipline.

PraxisPedagogy is the place where philosophy and practice meet.

Photo by flickr user henry grey

Photo by flickr user kevin dooley

“I am hopeful, not out of mere stubbornness, but out of an existential, concrete imperative.” !

~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope

Photo by flickr user jared

The “critical” in critical pedagogy functions in several registers:

!1. Critical, as in mission-critical, essential; 2. Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and

interpretation; 3. Critical, as in a reflective and nuanced approach to a thing; 4. Critical, as in criticizing institutional or corporate impediments to learning; 5. Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected

by) each of these other meanings.

“Unless the mass of workers are to be blind cogs and pinions in the apparatus they employ, they must have some understanding of the physical and social facts behind and ahead of the material and appliances with which they are dealing.”

John Dewey, Schools of To-Morrow

Photo by flickr user Thomas Hawk

We need to handle our technologies roughly -- to think critically about our tools, how we use them, and who has access to them.

The best digital tools inspire us, often to use them in ways the designer couldn’t anticipate. The worst digital tools attempt to dictate our pedagogies, determining what we can do with them and for whom. The digital pedagogue teaches her tools, doesn’t let them teach her.

Photo by flickr user mugfaker

“Digital pedagogy is the use of electronic elements to enhance or to change the experience of education.”

~ Brian Croxall and Adeline Koh

Photo by flickr user Darwin Bell

“collaboration, playfulness/tinkering, focus on process, and building (very broadly defined).”

~ Katherine D. Harris

Photo by flickr user José Manuel Ríos Valiente

“The new learning is ancient.” ~ Kathi Inman Berens

Photo by flickr user Dirigentens

“It doesn’t matter to me if my classroom is a little rectangle in a building or a little rectangle above my keyboard. Doors are

rectangles; rectangles are portals. We walk through.” ~ Kathi Inman Berens, “The New Learning is Ancient”

“A course today is an act of composition.” ~ Sean Michael Morris, “Courses, Composition, Hybridity”

Photo by flickr user Caleb Roenigk

The keenest analysis in the digital humanities is born of distraction and revels in tangents. The holy grail of this work is not the thesis but the fissure. The digital humanities is about breaking stuff.

Photo by EmreAyar

“What is broken and twisted is also beautiful, and a bearer of knowledge. The Deformed Humanities is an origami crane — a piece of paper contorted into an object of startling insight and beauty.” !

~ Mark Sample, “Notes towards a Deformed Humanities”

There's a certain slant of light, On winter afternoons, That oppresses, like the weight Of cathedral tunes. !Heavenly hurt it gives us; We can find no scar, But internal difference Where the meanings are. !None may teach it anything, 'Tis the seal, despair,- An imperial affliction Sent us of the air. !When it comes, the landscape listens, Shadows hold their breath; When it goes, 't is like the distance On the look of death. !

~ Emily Dickinson

The digital humanities course I teach for undergraduates has as its first assignment the breaking of something as an act of literary criticism. [slide] Specifically, I ask students to take the words of a poem by Emily Dickinson, “There’s a certain slant of light,” and rearrange them into something else. They use any or all of the words that appear in the poem as many or as few times as they want. What they build takes any shape: text, image, video, a poem, a pile, sense-making or otherwise.

Breaking Stuff as an Act of Literary Criticism

“Deconstructing Digital Literature” by Timothy Merritt

Winter Oppresses Shadows the landscape like death

Tis heavenly when it goes

Haiku by Rachel Blume

"A Certain Slant of Light, Typographically Speaking" by Lans Pacifico

Photo by flickr user Holger H.

“The world is vast. Art is long. What else can we do but survey the field, introduce a topic, plant a seed.” !~ Stephen Ramsay, “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books”

A critical digital pedagogy must be less about knowing and more about a voracious not knowing.

Photo by flickr user seier+seier

Photo by flickr user jared

Critical Digital Pedagogy:

!1. centers its practice on community and collaboration; 2. must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires

invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;

3. will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;

4. must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.

Photo by anieto2k

iAdditional Material

Jesse Stommel, “Toward a Zombie Pedagogy” in Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education

!Jesse Stommel, “Decoding Digital Pedagogy, pt. 2: (Un)Mapping the Terrain”

!Jesse Stommel, “The Digital Humanities is about Breaking Stuff”

!Jesse Stommel, “The Decay of the Digital Human”

!Leeann Hunter, Pete Rorabaugh, Jesse Stommel, Robin Wharton, and Roger Whitson,

“Digital Humanities Made Me a Better Pedagogue: a Crowdsourced Article” !

Mark Sample, “Notes towards a Deformed Humanities” !

Sean Michael Morris, “Courses, Composition, Hybridity” !

Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel, “CFP: Critical Digital Pedagogy” !

Kathi Inman Berens, “The New Learning is Ancient”