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ENGL 504 A: Digital Literary And Textual Studies

Colloquium in Digital Culture and Digital Humanities

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 554 A
Kate Norako photo
Leila Kate Norako

Syllabus Description:

English 504/Comp Lit 554—Colloquium in Digital Culture and the Digital Humanities

Kate Norako:


Office Hours, 9am-10:30am on Mondays: 

Wednesday Class Zoom Link (for 1:30-3:20pm):




Eleven years ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education called the digital humanities “the first ‘next big thing’ in a long time.” Today, the domain of the Digital Humanities encompasses research institutes, learned journals, Mellon fellowships, and an NEH mandate. Its language permeates the MLA convention program. It arouses messianic expectations and fiery condemnations in seemingly equal measure.

But what is it? The term “digital humanities” applies to a huge range of loosely related enterprises from coding with XML-based TEI standards to the critical study of digital culture and born digital literature to simply the dissemination of humanistic research in digital form. Rather than following any one path in this seminar, our objective will be to step back and survey the field as it has emerged and in its full institutional complexity. What does a graduate student in the humanities need to know about DH right now? Who are the major thinkers and what are the major debates? How might one situate oneself or one’s project in relation to the digital turn? To answer these questions – and raise new ones – we will meet in a twice weekly colloquium format and will explore a variety of critical topics that will include: project creation and management, close/distant reading, critical code studies and data visualization, the archive in theory and in practice, the intricacies of open access, to matters of equity and access within the digital humanities. To enliven and enrich our discussions, we will have three guest speakers visit campus throughout the quarter to visit our seminar and give public talks (which all members of the seminar are expected to attend): Angela Bennett (U of Nevada) on close and distant reading and data aggregation, Anne Cong-Huyen on Asian-American DH, Kimberly Gallon (Purdue) on Black Digital Humanities, Theodore Davenport and Ayanda Masilela (PhD Candiates, UW Geography) on GIS and digital geographies, and Amaranth Borsuk on digital maker movements and creative writing.

Students will be evaluated on the following: their attendance and participation in class meetings and online forums, their serving as a presenter and discussion leader on a chosen day during the term, an evaluation of an existing digital project in their field, and their successful completion of a final project, which will be comprised of an informal in-class presentation on a hypothetical digital project of their own creation and a mock grant application.

Practical issues of project-based scholarship, DH funding opportunities, and digital pedagogy will be covered. No prior technical knowledge or experience is assumed.


English 504 / Comp Lit 554 is a core graduate seminar in the Textual Studies Program. Course

credit can be applied towards the Textual and Digital Studies Graduate Certificate. For more

information, see



  • Participate actively in class discussions. Do all reading, attend all sessions, and don’t use laptops or mobile devices in class for anything other than classwork.
  • Lead An Asynchronous Discussion on a designated unit. Leaders will need to offer a preliminary post in their respective group that (1) Distills the and synthesizes our readings in roughly 1000k words, and (2) Offers at least two discussion questions for the group to take up as they respond. 
  • Produce a short, informal assessment of an existing DH project in your field. This will be submitted in a designated discussion forum in Week 5. 
  • Propose a grant-funded DH project that would enrich your field and/or address a gap in the scholarship of your object(s). This assignment has two parts: a micro-conference in the week 9 where you will deliver a short (10 min) paper laying out a case for your proposed DH project, and a mock-application for a start-up grant, which will serve as your final paper. We will set aside some time in week 6 to workshop project ideas, and ample space will be devoted to workshopping and refining this project between then and the end of term. Due Friday of Week 10, by 5pm on Canvas.

 Other Salient Details:

1) there are no required textbooks -- all readings will be provided through Canvas. 

2) Out of respect and concern for how challenging these times are, we will, on most weeks, only meet synchronously on Wednesdays. Depending on guest speaker availability, we may need to meet occasionally on one or more Mondays, and I will have that information finalized in the coming weeks. On weeks where we're meeting just the once, I will publish a discussion forum through canvas to which students will be asked to contribute, and on weeks where we meet twice in a synchronous format, we'll either forego the discussion forum or make it strictly optional/extra credit. 


Course Schedule/Important Dates:

For complete details on each week's readings and guest speakers, please review the weekly pages in assignments. You'll find each week's going's on laid out therein! 

As I have mentioned, we are foregoing formal assignments aside from the grant proposal due at the end of the quarter. That being said, I want to make sure we create benchmarks/check-ins to make sure things don't pile up. In that spirit, I want you all to keep the following in your sights:

By the end of Week 3: identify 1 digital project relevant to your field that you would like to assess in an informal breakout session with your peers. 

Week 5: In addition to our usual breakout session, we will have a second forum that will include the whole class, and that is where you'll offer up your informal assessment of an extant DH project and discuss your findings and those of your peers. 

Week 7: Pitching Exercise. In addition to or (perhaps more likely) in lieu of our usual discussion forum, we will have a synchronous breakout sessions (groups of 3 max) focused on helping you land on an idea for a DH project that you will pursue. I'll will offer specific instructions on how to evaluate and assist one another, and you can expect me to make an appearance once discussions are well underway in each of your groups. 

Week 9: In lieu of formal discussions and breakouts, we will be spending the week workshopping projects. Juliet Shields and, I hope, Kathy Woodward will pay us a visit that Monday, and in addition to my office hours, we'll hold asynchronous workshops in small groups (again, 3 max) to help you all resolve out any major issues you're experiencing as you work on your grant proposal draft. 

Week 10: We will meet on Monday for one final, concluding discussion, which will also be an opportunity to raise any lingering questions/concerns you have about your final project. Your mock grant proposal will be due by 5pm Friday of Week 10. 

Catalog Description: 
An examination of digital textuality from the rise and fall of "hypertext" to contemporary convergence and transmediation in hybrid visual-verbal genres; computer games, digital video, and e-poetry. Coverage of practical issues surrounding digital scholarship and the digital humanities. Offered: jointly with C LIT 554.
Last updated: 
February 2, 2021 - 10:07am