Digital Humanities: Methods and Practices (3 credits)

Spring 2020 DHUM 70002 | Tuesday, 6:30–8:30 p.m. – CUNY Graduate Center, Room 6494 

Instructor Information
Dr. J. Bret Maney
Office: Room 4116.08

Office hours:  Tu. 5:30–6:30 p.m., and by appt.

Course blog:
Course group
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Course hashtag: #dhpraxis20

Course Description

Digital Humanities: Methods and Practices is the second course in a year-long sequence of two, three-credit courses that introduce students to the landscape of digital humanities tools and methods through readings and classroom and online discussions, lectures offered by prominent scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to critically evaluate and to incorporate digital technologies into their academic research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored both the general field of Digital Humanities and a particular area of digital scholarship and/or digital pedagogy of interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and established a digital portfolio that can be used to display their work.

During the Fall 2019 semester, students explored the landscape of the digital humanities from a Caribbean Studies perspective, considering a range of ways to approach DH work and propose potential DH projects. In Spring 2020, we will put that thinking into action by refining and producing a small number of those projects. This praxis-oriented course will ask students to organize into teams and, by the end of the semester, produce a project prototype. Upon completion of the course, students will have gained hands-on experience in the conceptualizing, planning, production, and dissemination of a digital humanities project. Student work for this course will demonstrate a variety of technical, project management, and rhetorical skills. One of our goals is to produce well-conceived, long-term projects that have the potential to extend beyond the horizon of the Spring 2020 semester. A range of advisors may be matched to support the needs of each individual project. Successful completion of the course will require a commitment to meeting mutually agreed-upon deadlines and benchmarks established at the outset of the semester. This class will hold a mandatory public event at the end of the semester where students will launch their projects and receive feedback from the DH academic community. Students are encouraged not to think of their work as “student” projects, but rather as genuine contributions to public dialogue on the use and creation of digital tools in and around the academy.

Course Goals and Learning Objectives

In this course, students will:

  • Gain hands-on experience in the planning, production, and dissemination of a digital humanities project.
  • Work collaboratively in teams to produce all aspects of their chosen project, including proposal, data management plans, prototype, and outreach.
  • Occupy specific roles within their teams in accordance with their strengths and desires for learning and growth.
  • Justify key technical, scholarly, and interpersonal decisions especially as they relate to humanistic values through team-based lab journals, public blogging on our course site, and oral presentations.
  • Learn to acquire and develop new skills independently.

Requirements and Structure

Weekly Class Sessions

This is a praxis-based course, so most of our class sessions will be devoted to team meetings, project work, informal and formal presentations, and consultations. Weekly readings will be assigned on an as-needed basis. Students are expected to be working independently and collaboratively every week on their projects and project plans.

Progress Reports and Social Media Presence

Each team will produce at least one public, process-oriented project progress report each week, to be posted on our shared course blog and tagged with a project-specific tag.  Reports should catalogue project activities, discuss the progress that’s been made, explore tricky problems, reach out to the general public with questions, and cultivate interest in the project. Group posts are due by midnight each Wednesday. Students are encouraged to read and respond to group posts with suggestions, feedback, and constructive criticism. Each team should also create a social media presence for their projects and use such accounts to share information and build an audience for the project.

Individual Journals

Each student will keep an individual journal that should be used to catalogue weekly activities and progress, explore sticky questions, share personal reflections, and work through problems. Journals can be posted publicly or privately to the course blog. They are due by midnight each Sunday.

Project Requirements

  • Projects should relate to the digital humanities as explored through the Fall semester.
  • Project plans should address all aspects of the project life cycle, from development to deployment to testing to launch to sustainability.
  • Projects must be made publicly available and project code must be open source and accessible online.
  • All code must be logically organized and clearly documented.
  • A prototype of the project must be realized by the end of the semester.
  • Projects will be launched publicly at the final class of the year.

Project Report and Individual Reflection Paper

  • A final project report (15–20 pages) must be submitted by each team at the end of the semester.
  • Each student in the class will also submit a paper (3–5 pages) that details their contributions to the project and how the experience of working on it fits into the arc of their professional development and interests.


All students should register for accounts on the following sites: CUNY Academic Commons (required), Twitter, GitHub, and Zotero (the library staff offers several very good intro workshops on Zotero that you are encouraged to attend). Additional recommended project management tools to be discussed in week 3 include Slack, Basecamp, and Trello.

Although you do not need to register for any accounts using your real or full name, you should consider using the same username across platforms for the sake of consistency and long-term searchability. We will publish a good deal of public writing this term, so please write with care and special attention not just to grammar and mechanics but also to tone. Aim to avoid publishing anything you might want to delete later, as it is hard to trust that anything on the Internet can really ever be erased.

Required Materials

  • Please bring a laptop computer to class meetings.
  • No books are required for this course. Any assigned readings will be distributed as PDFs or via hyperlinks.

Grading Policy

Final grades are based on:

  • Co-creation of a collaborative DH project.
  • A collaboratively produced project white paper that explores the group’s processes and that situates the project within the wider field of DH.
  • Thoughtful completion of progress reports and journal entries on the public course blog.
  • Quality of public and in-class presentations and discussions.
  • Meeting deadlines, timely submission of assignments, and regular attendance.

The grade breakdown will be as follows:

  • Team project grade: 75%
  • Individual grade (based on journals entries, faculty consultations, regular attendance, and your contributions to the team project): 25%

Grading Scale:

94-100=A; 90-93=A-; 87-89=B+; 83-86=B; 80-82=B-; 77-79=C+; 73-76=C; 70-72=C-; 65-69=D; F=64 and below.

Classroom Policies

  • Ensure regular attendance and punctual arrival.
  • Prepare adequately, which means completion of any readings and assignments.
  • Participate actively, including contributing to a mutual effort to make our seminar a friendly, supportive space where everyone feels comfortable speaking.
  • Strive to submit all assignments on time, including online writing.
  • Speak to the professor if you are concerned about any aspect of your performance, group dynamics, or are at risk of falling behind.

 Academic Integrity

It is your duty to follow CUNY’s detailed policy on academic integrity and plagiarism, which can be read online at this link. Instances of academic dishonesty and plagiarism are taken seriously and may result in penalties such as a failing grade for the course. Consult with the professor if you have any questions about plagiarism and/or academic integrity as it relates to this course.

Accommodating Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable academic accommodations if determined eligible by the Graduate Center’s Disability Services Office. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student’s eligibility from the DS Office, which is located in room 7301 at the GC and which can be reached by emailing . It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with the office and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.


The Wellness Center Student Counseling Services (Room 6422, supports matriculated GC students dealing with academic and life challenges. If you’re struggling with stress or other personal difficulties, consider making an appointment. Counseling is free, helpful, and confidential.


Thanks to Andie Silva, Lisa Rhody, Matt Gold, Kevin L. Ferguson, Amanda Hickman, Luke Waltzer, and Grant Wythoff for allowing me to adapt their previous iterations of this course syllabus.