The Digital Innovation Lab has supported the development of several undergraduate courses in American Studies that explore the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning. Students make use of digitized primary source material in their research, develop new ways of learning from academic monographs, and hone digital writing and publication skills. They have also contributed directly to public digital humanities projects undertaken by the lab in collaboration with cultural heritage organizations.
We also work with faculty in American Studies and other departments to apply their digital research and engaged scholarship to teaching and learning. Here are some examples.
- The Unbuilt Blue Ridge Parkway. A collaborative project between Anne Whisnant’s History 671: Introduction to Public History and AMST 850: Graduate Practicum in Digital Humanities in the Fall 2014 semester, this interpretive exhibit is a companion project to Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway, a repository of Parkway historical materials hosted at the University of North Carolina Libraries. The Unbuilt Blue Ridge Parkway exhibit brings together for the first time the stories of several Blue Ridge Parkway-related plans and proposals that were –- for a variety of reasons -– stillborn, killed, abandoned, or changed during the park’s now more than 75 year history. Taken together, these plans form a shadow Parkway –- the one that might have been. Through this project, Whisnant and the DIL explored how an existing digital humanities project might be further amplified after its initial funding was exhausted through its use in teaching public history and digital humanities. The project also made use of DH Press as a vehicle for mounting such a project over the course of a single semester and at no cost to the researcher/teacher. The project was recently featured in the debut issue of The American Historian, a new magazine published by the Organization of American Historians.
- The Nancy Drew Digital Project. The goal of this collaborative project between the DIL and Michelle Robinson’s AMST 365: Women and Detective Fiction (fall ’13) was two-fold: (1) to explore how the plot structures of generic fiction might be visualized in new ways, and (2) to apply the features of DH Press to an undergraduate learning experience. The corpus used here was the Nancy Drew series of novels taken up within the context of a course on women and detective fiction. The class worked together to create an annotated bibliography. Each student chose a different title in the series from which to collect data, and devised visualizations to represent their work. They also projected their own and the work of their colleagues into future corpus-reading projects.
- Telling Religious Stories. The goals of this collaboration between Elizabeth Olson’s GEOG 424: Geographies of Religion (Spring 2014) and the DIL’s Graduate Practicum (AMST 850, Spring ’14) were (1) adapting DH Press to serve as a simple, durable, and immediately deployable platform for collecting, archiving, visualizing, and sharing ongoing and open-ended ethnographic research on the relationship between religious practices and the spaces in which they occur around the world; and (2) to use this platform as a vehicle for students to contribute to this work in the context of a semester-long course. The project made use of DH Press’s ability to map events, people, and religious or spiritual spaces, as well as its innovative oral history interface.
- Using Digital Humanities to Support Learning in the Field. For two years, the DIL has worked with Professor Lucia Binotti (Romance Languages) to explore the use of DH Press as a platform for experiential and field-based learning. The summer of 2014 saw the second deployment of DH Press as a part of Binotti’s Honors Study Abroad in Rome program. Students used DH Press to develop thematic walking-tour itineraries as a part of their study of Renaissance Rome.