Digital Manuscript Studies – Curriculum Development 1

The Conservation of the Codex Alexandrinus, courtesy of the British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog

Hello All,

Today I have started developing a unit, to be run next year, on the topic of Digital Manuscript Studies. The unit is for our Masters in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at our University of Western Australia Centre of the same name. I’ve decided to start blogging about the process, some of the sources that I have discovered, any problems or insights I encounter, and those places that I have found good help and resources.

I would very much welcome any and all input from anyone reading this blog, so please chime in if you think you have some advice, or that I am making a mistake somewhere. This is my first large scale curriculum development project, and I want to learn in a way that helps others as much as myself.

The name of the game this week is introduction. What readings and activities best prepare students for the world of digital manuscript studies while simultaneously introducing some of the core concepts of digital humanities in general? Perhaps beginning with my four draft outcomes is the best option:

By the end of the unit, students should be able to:

  1. Critically engage with the problems, possibilities, and methodologies of manuscript studies in an age of digital content.

  2. Analyse different resources for manuscript studies (resources, tools for researchers, tools for students), the manner in which they are presented and the manner in which they can be used and manipulated.

  3. Critique the strengths and weaknesses of diverse digital manuscripts and resources.

  4. Use resources and tools to conduct original research individually and in a group, and identify the need for new approaches based on this research.

As you can see, these outcomes are wholly manuscript studies based (the goal is to teach students how to use sources confidentlyand critically in a digital environment) and the digital humanities content is inflected rather than self-evident. My question for this week is how to teach both general DH literacy and introduce students to the manuscript as digital entity without being too mired in the ‘yack’ at the expense of the ‘hack’ as scholars are fond of saying.

I will keep you posted as the syllabus emerges. Once again, please feel free to comment on this or any future blog post, or comment on an Academia.edu question i’ve asked.

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7 thoughts on “Digital Manuscript Studies – Curriculum Development 1

  1. Great post! Thanks for this, James! I’m just beginning to learn more about Digital Humanities myself but I have a lot of friends studying Medieval and Early Modern literature and they’ve been looking into this stuff for a fair while now. I would recommend checking out work by Alexander Huang (a GW professor) as well as the work of Janelle Jenstad (here’s her Early Modern London Literature DH project: http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/jenstad.htm)

    Also, I’m actually working on an article right now that looks at collaborative writing opportunities made possible through the study of DH and what impacts this has/could have on perceptions of ownership/authorship — if you or any of your students wanna participate, check out my blog: http://howlinghowl.wordpress.com/

    Thanks again for this post! I look forward to reading more!

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