Course Description
This class is the first half of a year-long seminar designed to introduce you to what it means to be a scholar in the the twenty-first century, and to equip you with the tools and intellectual context in order to contribute to the scholarly record in a meaningful way. Through the careful study and analysis of objects and datasets, coupled with contextual and theoretical readings, class discussions, and team projects, you will emerge from this seminar with the capacity to begin your scholarly career. This course takes as its content the study of rare books and digitization– how material books that enliven our senses are made into numerical data, allowing us to study not just one but thousands of texts at a time. All the while, we will learn and practice fundamental research skills for understanding what research is, asking good questions of primary material, analyzing sources, contextual writing, basic library and bibliographic skills, and new media research and presentation tools.

Seminar Goals
In this course, students will:

  • Understand the process of research and how digital tools can help conduct and disseminate that research
  • Think critically about the relationship between research, digitization and preservation, and public access
  • Consider their identities as scholars and digital citizens, moving towards a conception of independent scholarly research
  • Conceptualize and develop a collaborative research project, utilizing best practices in project management
  • Learn to critically read, interrogate, and interpret primary textual sources, non-textual sources, objects and artifacts, and data
  • Gain an understanding of intellectual and book history

Big Questions
In this seminar, we will be doing much “close-looking” at specific rare books, data sets, and DH projects. It will be helpful to keep in mind throughout the semester that in these specific activities, we are always looking to address these overarching questions:

  • What is a text? What does it mean to be literate?
  • Where does information come from and how is it preserved?
  • How does technology shape information and our perception and reception of it?
  • What can the study of texts and technology teach us about citizenship in the digital world?


Many thanks to Ryan Cordell, Alex Galarza, Kristen Mapes, Miriam Posner, and Annie Swafford whose publicly-available syllabi were of great help and inspiration in designing this course.

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