Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Course: English 425 A (Doing Humanities Digitally)

Instructor: Michael J. Cripps

Meeting Days

  • Monday/Wednesday from 11:00-12:20 PM (Marcil 121)
  • Individual Conferences (TBA)

Office Hours (26 Marcil Hall)

  • Monday/Wednesday 2:30-3:30 PM
  • By Appointment (please ask!)

Course Description

The rise of hypertext and the social web, the ability to digitize high-quality images and texts in archives, and the accessibility of low-cost computing power have yielded a range of developments in humanities research and in the production of texts. This advanced humanities seminar, a working tour of the digital humanities, explores these developments from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Students will learn about the Text Encoding Initiative, the role of computing and “big data” in humanities research, the enduring importance of close reading, and tools for curating interactive digital exhibits. Following an approach central to much digital humanities scholarship, students will collaborate on several “live” scholarly projects. This course meets an Advanced Studies Core requirement. 3.000 Credit hours.

What Class Looks Like

Class meetings will be discussion-based, will regularly involve both collaboration and informal presentations, and will often include hands-on computer work. One can’t “do” digital humanities (DH) without actually “doing” the digital.

Each student will create a digital exhibit of his/her undergraduate education in the form of an ePortfolio.  We will discuss this ePortfolio as the term progresses, but I expect that each person will take the project in a direction that seems most relevant to him or her. Represent yourself and your academic work digitally, and you’ll have a strong ePortfolio.

Each student will reflect on the work of the term on his or her blog, a medium for digital writing. I will prompt you to complete those posts, though you are also welcome to post independent of my prompts.

Additionally, we’ll complete several individual and collaborative projects.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete English 425 will

  • Explain the general history of the digital humanities.
  • Classify digital humanities projects and explain how they address questions relevant to the humanities.
  • Review secondary literature within the field orally and in writing.
  • Employ Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) mark-up in a targeted encoding project.
  • Arrange digital artifacts into collections and construct a collaborative digital exhibit.
  • Label digital collection artifacts using Dublin Core metadata terms.
  • Practice re-mediating a print project for digital (web) presentation.
  • Design an ePortfolio as a digital archive that collects, organizes, and frames selected work samples.

These outcomes contribute to several of the learning outcomes for courses designated as Advanced Studies:

  • Explore a topic or theme in depth;
  • Comprehend and implement relevant investigative and analytical methods;
  • Understand, interpret, and critically analyze sources;
  • Participate in active learning in the classroom through such activities as (but not restricted to discussion and debate, presentations of research, and small group projects;
  • Engage in self-directed learning through such activities as reading, discussion, and research.


There are no exams, tests, or quizzes. Instead, you will be evaluated on your project work. 55% of this work is individual; 45% of it is collaborative. My expectation is that everyone will operate at a high level of responsibility and independence, and I look forward to seeing what you can do.

Final Grade Range

  • A = 93-100
  • A- = 90-92
  • B+ = 87-89
  • B = 83-86
  • B- = 80-82
  • C+ = 77-79
  • C = 73-76
  • C- = 70-72
  • D = 60-69
  • F = <60
  • I = Nearly all work completed; fewer than 5 absences
  • WP = Withdrawal while passing during first two-thirds of the term
  • WF = Withdrawal while failing during first two-thirds of the term
  • W = Withdrawal during final one-third of the term

Required Texts

All “books” are available in the bookstore; many are also available elsewhere.

  • Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. Print.
  • Schreibman, Susan, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, eds. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Print.  (Note: Digital edition available free of charge at
  • Siemens, Ray and Susan Schreibman, eds. A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Print. (Note: Digital edition available free of charge at
  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition. Ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven: Yale UP, 2004. Print.

If you are looking to save a bundle and are less interested in a bookshelf that includes the Companions, I do recommend the free, printable versions.  But you really must print and mark up the chapters you read. The only shame comes if you show up without print versions.

The Cramer edition of Walden is the definitive annotated edition. It represents a high point in humanities annotation and archival work in a print medium, making it an exceptional counterpoint to our work on the digital humanities. You want Cramer’s version because we’ll use his annotations to ask a range of questions about “doing Thoreau digitally.” The book is priced quite reasonably, especially when one looks at the quality of the paper, the binding, and the scholarship.

Any other readings will be available through the use of online search tools and through the UNE library.

Academic Integrity (including Plagiarism)

This course is collaborative in nature. At the same time, we will always be mindful of those boundaries between our work and the work of others.  This means acknowledging our sources and signaling “co-authorship” when we have it. As we know, our own intellectual contributions end up carrying more weight when we are able to show how our work is connected to that of others working in our area. Borrow freely from others’ ideas, but acknowledge that borrowing and you do so with integrity.

UNE has a clear policy on academic integrity and a multi-step procedure for addressing cases of suspected academic dishonesty. Both the policy and the procedure are distributed as a two-page handout at the beginning of the term. They are also available on the UNE website: Academic Integrity Policy (on p. 47 of the 2011 Handbook); Procedure for Reporting Alleged Academic Dishonesty.

In our class, the policy applies to all our work.

Assorted Rules & Regulations

  • Homework is due at the start of class.
  • Attendance is mandatory. Miss more than two classes and expect a reduction in your final grade. Miss more than four classes and do not expect to pass.
  • We are engaged in “live” DH projects. The Digital Thoreau and Saco River projects will involve us in real DH work. Be flexible, be ready to help make decisions, don’t fear the unknown, and we’ll do some great things.
  • We have a “working” schedule. This means that assignments and due dates are subject to change as the class unfolds. I will inform you of any changes as they come up and will update the course schedule online so that we can stay on the same (web)page.

Accessibility and Documented Disabilities

The University of New England will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Any student eligible for and needing academic adjustments because of a disability are requested to speak with the professor at the beginning of the semester. Registration with Disability Services, located in Stella Maris 128 (ext. 2815) on the Biddeford Campus and the Lower Level of Ginn Hall (ext. 4418) on the Portland Campus, is required before accommodation requests can be granted.

Student Academic Success Center

Tutoring, writing support and learning strategies consultations are available, free of charge, in the Student Academic Success Center. Students are encouraged to use these services early and often to promote academic success. More information about the SASC is available at or by calling the Center at 207-602-2443.

Midterm Academic Progress Reports

The University of New England is committed to the academic success of its students. At the midterm of each semester, instructors will report the performance of each student as SATISFACTORY (S) or UNSATISFACTORY (U). Instructors will announce when these midterm academic progress reports will be available for viewing via Uonline. This early alert system gives all students important information about progress in their courses. Students who receive an UNSATISFACTORY midterm report should take immediate action by speaking with their instructor to discuss suggestions for improvement such as utilizing the services of academic advising, the Student Academic Success Center, Counseling Services, and Residential Education.