The Praxis Program at UVA: DH for Graduate Students

A wonderful resource for grad students interested in learning more about DH is the site for The Praxis Program, a project from the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia Library. Do not miss the “Tutorials” or “Scratchpad” tabs if you (like me) don’t know everything yet. I am still trying to decide which of these tools is best suited to my teaching and research, but Prism is intriguing. As a tool for “crowdsourcing interpretation,” this looks like a great way to encourage collaboration among students and between scholars. I plan to try it out on my introductory class and will post successes and challenges in my lesson. Thanks to the contributors who made this public and available!

As a scholar of Africana and Latin American Studies, I am on the look out for digital humanities projects that address my regional and thematic interests. The UVA Library Scholars’ Lab is undertaking exciting projects in African-American and Latin American history, such as the Falmouth Project. I am following with interest the scholarship of Tamika RichesonCecilia Márquez, and Alex Gil, among others. And there is also “Mapping an Asian American Indie Rock Digital Diaspora,” which technically is not my field of remote knowledge or expertise. But I had to link to it because it’s an excellent presentation of scholarship. I will end this post by lamenting the fact that I could not attend a recent GIS workshop at UVA that promised the “pursuit of mappiness.”

THATCamp JHU 2014

Register by April 10th for THATCamp on The Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus, Saturday April 12th! We want to address the uses of digital humanities for educators and scholars in the Baltimore area, with an emphasis on Africana and Latin American Studies. Follow our event on Twitter at @THATCampJHU! Free events to take place in historic Gilman Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


THATCamp poster

Teaching with Podcasts

This semester I assigned a five-minute podcast on gender in Latin American history in my introductory course. I recommend this kind of project as a method for practicing speaking, building argument, getting experience with technology, and encouraging students’ interacting with peers. Students used Audacity, which caused few technological hiccups. The project involved a peer edit based on a rubric for clarity, length, accuracy, and persuasiveness. Though these were broad elements, they elicited useful qualitative comments from student partners during peer grading.

I requested feedback from the students regarding the assignment. One student mentioned that making the podcast immediately preceded an interview and provided preparation and practice for measured, clear speaking. Another student said that peer edits increased the quality of the podcasts; students wished to provide their peers with a good example of their work. For an introductory course, a podcast assignment is useful in conjunction with written essays to help students build distinct skills and communicate with their peers. Here is a site I consulted for instructions about audioblogging/podcasting. I look forward to incorporating more audio elements into my teaching.

I have consulted Dr. Lisa Spiro’s blog entry “Digital Pedagogy in Practice” for useful information about the rationale behind creating digital assignments. Her post, “Getting Started in the Digital Humanities” from a few years ago also comes recommended.

Upcoming Events in Latin American Studies at JHU

LatinAmericanFilmFest_poster_2014 (1)The second Latin American Film Festival at Johns Hopkins is currently underway. These screenings are made possibly by grants from the Spanish Government and PRAGDA, as well as support at JHU from the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, the Program in Latin American Studies, and the Graduate Representative Organization. The upcoming screenings will take place every Wednesday at 7 PM in Krieger 205 on Homewood Campus until April 23. All events are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, March 26 at 5:15 P.M. in Gilman Hall 479, Professor Barbara Fuchs (UCLA) will present at the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures Seminar as part of the Iberian Seminar organized by Professor Gabriel Paquette. The title of the paper is “La Lozana Andaluza and the Limits of the Picaresque.” Her new book, The Poetics of Piracy: Emulating Spain in English Literature, is with the University of Pennsylvania Press.

On Thursday, March 27, 2014 as part of the Brazil Studies Seminar, we welcome Professor Jeffrey D. Needell (University of Florida) who will give a talk entitled “Brazil’s Abolitionist Movement: The Narrative, Sources, and Historiography.” This event will take place in Gilman 308 at 4:15 thanks to support from the Center for Africana Studies, PLAS, and the Department of History.

In April, the Program in Latin American Studies Spring Conference, “Mobility and Exchange in Latin America, Past and Present,” will take place on Friday the 11th. Professor Evelyn Hu-DeHart will give our keynote address, and our program includes a wide range of scholars from around the hemisphere. We are also hosting THATCamp JHU, focused on Africana and Latin American Studies, on Saturday the 12th. Both events are free and open to the public, but registration for THATCamp on our web site is required.

Omeka for Teaching

Attending THATCampAAR gave me some great teaching ideas, including using Omeka for student projects. This is a tool that makes it easy to place digital content in historical context, as evidenced here. A big thank you to Amanda French (GMU) for her workshop!

The first time I integrated a curated online exhibit as a project in a course was my first semester of teaching, through a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship at JHU. I used the digital media project in place of a final exam and had students execute their projects and present them in groups of three or four. The purposes were to present exhibits that contextualize digital sources in historical ways as well as build skills in presenting and explaining historical processes. The projects were stellar, but the stakes of the assignment were too high (40% of the final grade). I now would not consider weighting so much of a grade in a lower-division course toward a final project or exam. Still, the outcomes were good and the students built digital, written, and oral presentation skills.

Reglas de Congo snip
Screenshot of an Omeka site created for a lower-division Latin American history course in Spring 2014 at Johns Hopkins University.