MACONDO IN THE TIME OF SCREENS: TEACHING LITERATURE WITH DIGITAL TOOLS
Kathleen Fitzpatrick (2010) defined Digital Humanities as “a nexus of fields within which scholars use computing technologies to investigate the kinds of questions that are traditional to the humanities” (12). While many universities in the United States have advanced the practice of the DH, John Unsworth (2010) notes that “community colleges, most largest state and regional universities, small schools, and many private campuses have been comparatively under involved” (np). Gold and Groom (2012) agree that the potential for projects in digital humanities pedagogy “lies in their ability to connect learners in ways that hack around the artificial boundaries of selectivity and elitism that educational institutions have long erected around themselves” (406). Alexander and Davis (2012) point that in the liberal arts environment “there are several arguments for disengagement, including problems of logistics, infrastructure, and campus identity” (368).
Logistics, infrastructure, and campus identity are indeed key concerns in the development of courses in the Humanities at the University of Puget Sound, a liberal arts school in the United States, where a small group of faculty is involved in the integration of digital tools in otherwise traditional courses. While courses are conducted in person and within the university’s term regulations, projects and assignments are all completed online. In addition to blog posts that serve as writing assignments, students create word clouds, mind maps, digital timelines, and other text mining tools to generate class discussion; they annotate texts using wikis to reveal deeper meaning; and for final projects they use these tools to generate objects that are integrated into a digital-born document.
This presentation will explore student response to digital-born assignments in the capstone course “Around Macondo in Eighty Days” a literature-based course where the close reading of a text is the primary focus and discussion happens live but assignments are completed, submitted and assessed online. The presentation will include samples of student work, such as word clouds, wikis, mind maps and digital timelines used to examine themes, images and motifs in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, collected through two iterations of the course.