Refocused: Digital Composing & Publishing

When I applied for the fellowship, I had one idea about enacting DH. I was going to entirely transform a first-year course and learn a whole bunch of brand new things in order to do so. But my ideas have shifted as a result of conversations in our group, attending HASTAC, and experimenting last semester.

For spring 2018, I have refocused my pedagogical intentions on a class I have taught more than 20 times — intro to technical writing. I’m also focused on strengthening my existing knowledge in digital composing and publishing rather than learning something completely new from scratch. From this place of relative comfort, I am rewriting one unit entirely (there are four) and making adjustments to a second. These changes build on what I learned during my professional writing course of fall 2017.  Here’s the rewrite.

During Unit 3 of tech writing, we will host a panel,”The Risks and Rewards of Establishing a Professional Online Presence.”  I have lined up at least one former student, a DH colleague (Dr. Mac – thanks!), and the university’s internet security officer. I’ve also invited Career Services. Students in many majors are encouraged to create a LinkedIn presence, to create digital portfolios of their work, and/or to establish social media accounts for professional purposes. I want to have my tech writing students gain critical awareness about issues with such public writing so they can make informed decisions about self-representation in online environments.

The panel’s content is valuable, yet I’m also using it to model a typical kind of event that requires lots of writing to make happen. During the unit, I’ll have students select their own topics and organizations for which they will create mock or real panel events. In keeping with the course focus on workplace writing strategies, they will:

  • propose the event (the course description promised proposal writing),
  • invite speakers (business correspondence),
  • advertise the panel (to gain exposure to digital composing tools like Canva and practice integrating visuals and text rhetorically, to determine digital and analog means of distribution),
  • create a digital evaluation (to increase comfort with Google Forms and survey design), and
  • work with data from the evaluation in a followup report (to learn techniques for integrating quantitative visuals into narrative documents).

At the end of last semester, one of my realizations was that no matter how excited about a new approach I become, existing course objectives matter. So what I describe above is less a radical DH transformation of a course and more of a DH deepening in the ways I’m teaching it. Propose, correspond, advertise, evaluate, report: These are core workplace writing moves, most of which I assigned in prior tech writing courses already in various forms.  In my DH-informed version of the course, I’m deliberately ramping up my own and my students’ creative use of digital composing techniques and our critical awareness of issues in digital publishing.


Ideas about Spring 2018 course

Finally have some ideas, and looking forward to exploring with the students for the upcoming Spring 2018 course. Feel much better about what I am trying to accomplish with the class.

Digital Humanities Course Project

I am going to introduce students to the Tools Timeline JS and Story Maps. The goal is to have students complete singular projects involving mapping Black British subjects who traveled extensively throughout the Atlantic World and some in South America including Mary Prince, Albert Gronniosaw, Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah Cuango, Olaudah Equiano. In the story we can discuss their lives at each point, their status, their family life, historical markers. In addition, as a group project have me and the students digitally map Frederick Douglass, William Wells, Brown, Ida B. Wells.

I will also initiate use of the NCCU digital lab and research field trips to Perkins Library.

Summer Training

There are a number of summer workshops that train scholars in various digital methods.

DHSI (Digital Humanities Summer Institute) –

There is a DHSI information session happening on Thursday, November 16th, at Duke.

HILT (Humanities Intensive Learning & Teaching) –

DHOXSS (Oxford University) – (Ask Candace Bailey about her attendance at this workshop.)


Notes & take aways from HASTAC 2017. (

An overview: My HASTAC experience focused on questions of centering community & communication in our digital work. Questions such as “who is a scholar” were answered “whoever identifies as a scholar”. Emphasis in both research & teaching on inclusivity, shared credit, collaborative ownership & authorship, recognition of different kinds of academic labor, and community exchange/partnerships as public scholarship.