In his article on Critical Digital Pedagogy, Jesse Stommel starts with the assertion that no pedagogy is neutral. The myth of the objective, assessment-oriented teaching methodology is just that: a myth. This is particularly true in higher education. Learning and the ways we learn are necessarily political, and real critical pedagogy is about reorienting the power relationship between students and teachers. True critical pedagogy is a second-order level of thought that asks questions about the ethical valence of teaching methods. Its chief enemy is the dehumanization of the institutional educational system. It privileges creativity rather than consumption and fights off content by privileging the feeling of not yet knowing something.
Critical Digital Pedagogy only intensifies these aims. The essentials of Critical Digital Pedagogy are: community, diversity, cacophony, and a refusal to color inside institutional lines. CDP examines the power relationships that traditional educational interactions have established and looks at ways in which digital tools can rearrange them. The tools themselves are valueless. It is the method that is good or bad. And make no mistake: Stommel thinks that good digital pedagogy is political, an act of social justice.
In this short piece from Hybrid Pedagogy, Jesse Stommel argues that the hallmarks of the Digital Humanities—building and collaboration—are something that the humanities have always provided. The real possibility and promise of the Digital Humanities is the chance to upend even the most tried and true assumptions about the text we teach and how we teach them.
For instance, Digital Humanities reveals the course to be an arbitrary composition that can and should be remixed. So too with the texts that we assign. Our modes of interaction with those texts—be they movies, books, or music—is already radically different. Why shouldn’t our analysis bear the weight of that difference? Part of that difference is the way that social media saturates everything, and Stommel goes so far as to say that the distraction social media provides can and should be the grounds for a new pedagogy.
Finally, Stommel gives us an example assignment that builds on the possibility of remixing not just literature (and Emily Dickinson poem) but the way we respond to literature. The student examples he provides are varied and powerful.
In his article “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books” from the volume Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology, Stephen Ramsay contrasts two modes of research: searching and browsing. This dichotomy starts with the simple fact that there are far more books than we could ever representatively read. This is why we like reading lists—the Great Books of the Western World—so much. They make an unbelievably large amount of material approachable. They give us a path. The web only makes clear how much we’ve yet to read. It hits us upside the head with how small our research coverage actually is and how it may be impossible to actually tell if the text we’re researching is actually representative.
Continue reading “SUMMARY: What You Do With a Million Books”
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be reading through the list of resources found here on the Digital Humanities. For each source, I hope to write a summary and the start building some work around the lessons I’m learning.
The first entry today summarizes Matthew Gold’s introductory essay, “The Digital Humanities Moment” from the book Debates in the Digital Humanities.
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