2017 Syllabus and Reading Schedule

Introduction to Digital Public Humanities

Download syllabus here: syllabus-1-4-17

For the texts and weekly schedule, go to reading schedule

Tuesdays, 5:30pm-8:10pm
Conklin Hall 233

Instructor Information:

  • Mary Rizzo
  • Associate Director of Public & Digital Humanities Initiatives
  • American Studies Program
  • History Department
  • Office: 247A Conklin Hall
  • Office Hours: By appointment
  • Email: mary.rizzo@rutgers.edu
  • Twitter: @rizzo_pubhist


What happens when we make digital humanities public? What about when we take the public humanities and make them digital? This course will explore the history, theory and methods of the digital humanities and the public humanities and, especially, their intersection. We will use and critically examine digital tools like Omeka, mapping software, content management systems, and social media to put theory into practice. By the end of the semester, students will have conceptualized a digital public humanities project, written a grant application for potential funding, and built a prototype.


  • This course will expect you to engage deeply with readings on the history, theories, and methods of the public and digital humanities while also applying those materials to work with digital tools on public projects. Come to class having read the materials and prepared to discuss them.
  • You are not expected to have any specific technical knowledge before coming to this class. You are expected, however, to be an independent learner who will attempt to solve problems.
  • You will be expected to respond to emails from me in a timely manner. Because we only meet once per week, it will be necessary for me to communicate with you by email outside of class. I recommend strongly that you link your Rutgers email account (which is what is connected to Blackboard) to your personal email so that you are sure to get all the emails that I send.
  • If you have a laptop or tablet, please bring it with you to class. A laptop is preferred. If you have neither, we will work something out.


By the end of this course, students will have:

  • Become conversant with the literature in the public humanities and the digital humanities, understanding the major issues, theories and methods of each;
  • Learned new digital technologies, used them for public projects, and critically analyzed them;
  • Conceptualized a public digital humanities project, including developing a prototype;
  • Written a grant proposal.


  • Blog Post Reading Response: Using the course website, you will be expected to write a response to readings and labs several times throughout the semester. These posts should engage with one or more of the readings or connect the lab work with readings. These are due by Monday at 12pm. You should also read your classmates’ posts and comment on at least one each week.
  • Analysis of a Digital Public Humanities Project: Click analysis-of-a-public-digital-humanities-project for assignment details.
  • Lab Session Assignments: After each lab session, you will have additional work to practice the skills we learned.
  • Digital Projects for the Public Proposal: The cumulative project for the semester will be for you to conceptualize a digital public humanities project and write a grant proposal to fund it. We will use the NEH’s digital projects for the public application as our guide. This project will be completed in several steps with peer review.

Attendance and Participation:

You will be expected to attend class having completed readings and assignments and be prepared to actively participate. If you cannot attend class, please let me know at least 24 hours before class (except in the case of emergencies).

Academic Integrity:

You will follow the University’s Policy on Academic Integrity, which falls under the Code of Student Conduct.  The policy and the consequences of violating it are outlined here: http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/office-dean-student-affairs/academic-integrity-policy.

I strictly follow the University’s rules regarding plagiarism and other academic irregularities. Please consult me if you have any questions about what is and is not appropriate regarding the use of sources or citation.



  • Participation, Peer Review, and Attendance: 15%
  • Blog Post Reading Responses: 20%
  • Analysis of a Digital Public Humanities Project: 20%
  • Digital Projects for the Public Proposal: 25%
  • Lab Assignments: 20%

Late Assignments:

I expect assignments to be completed on the day they are due. Any late submissions without an approved excuse will lose a half-grade every day it is late.

Required Texts:
There are two required books for this course:

  • Trevor Owens, Designing Online Communities. (Peter Lang Publishing, 2015).
  • Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World. (Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, 2011)

Other readings are either linked below, available through Rutgers Library (tagged RL), or on the blackboard site for our class.

Disability Statement

Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University’s educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: https://ods.rutgers.edu/students/documentation-guidelines.

If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. To begin this process, please complete the Registration form on the ODS web site at: https://ods.rutgers.edu/students/registration-form. For more information please contact Kate Torres at (973)353-5375 or in the Office of Disability Services in the Paul Robeson Campus Center, in suite 219 or by contacting odsnewark@rutgers.edu.

Weekly Schedule:

Week 1/January 17 Introduction to the Class

Week 2/January 24 Inventing the Humanities, Making it Public

Field Trip – Newark Public Library to see “From Rebellion to Review Board” exhibit

Geoffrey Galt Harpham, “Melancholy in the Midst of Abundance: How America Invented the Humanities,” The Humanities and the Dream of America. (Blackboard)

Jamil Zainaldin, “Public Works: NEH, Congress, and the State Humanities Councils,” The Public Historian. Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 28–50 (February 2013). (RL)

Blog Posts on the “Crisis” in the Humanities


  • “In Our Hands.”


  • “Humanities at the Crossroads: The Indiana Case Study”


  • “Humanities on the Move”


  • Ben Schmidt’s visualization of humanities enrollments.


Michael Frisch, “From a Shared Authority to the Digital Kitchen, and Back,” Letting Go.

John Kuo Wei Tchen and Liz Sevcenko, “The ‘Dialogic Museum’ Revisited: A Collaborative Reflection,” Letting Go.

Text of the 1965 National Arts and Humanities Act. http://www.neh.gov/about/history/national-foundation-arts-and-humanities-act-1965-pl-89-209

Due: Blog Reading Response

Week 3/January 31 Digital Humanities

“This is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities,” Debates in the Digital Humanities. http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/13

“Interchange: The Promise of Digital History,” Journal of American History (2008). (RL)

Tara MacPherson, “U.S. Operating Systems at Mid-Century: The Intertwining of Race and UNIX,” Race After the Internet. (Blackboard)

Roopika Risam, “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities,” Digital Humanities Quarterly http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/2/000208/000208.html

Susan Hockey, “History of Humanities Computing,” A Companion to Digital Humanities. http://digitalhumanities.org:3030/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405103213/9781405103213.xml&chunk.id=ss1-2-1&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-2-1&brand=9781405103213_brand

Due: Project Abstracts – 1-2 paragraphs, including project topic, goal, significance and digital component

Week 4/February 7 The Digital Public Humanities Project

NEH, Digital Projects for the Public Guidelines. https://www.neh.gov/files/grants/digital-projects-the-public-june-8-2016.pdf

Choose either:

Sharon Leon and Sheila Brennan, “Building Histories of the National Mall: A Guide to Creating a Digital Public History Project.” http://mallhistory.org/Guide/

Miriam Posner, “How Did They Make That?” http://miriamposner.com/blog/how-did-they-make-that-the-video/

Lindsey Patterson, “History Through Deaf Eyes,” Exhibit Review, Journal of American History, June 2015. (RL)

Gwynneth C. Malin, “US National Archives and Records Administration Youtube Channel,” Web Resource Review, The Public Historian, Winter 2011. (RL)

Lab: Omeka 1 – Items & Metadata


Week 5/ February 14 Lab: Omeka 2 – Building an Exhibit

Assignment: Digital version of From Rebellion to Review Board Exhibit

Week 6/February 21 Online Communities

Trevor Owens, Designing Online Communities.

Keith Negus, “The Work of Cultural Intermediaries and the Enduring Distance Between Production and Consumption,” Cultural Studies. 16, no. 4 (Jul, 2002): 501-15. (RL)

Steve Zeitlin, “Where are the Best Stories? Where is My Story?—Participation and Curation in a New Media Age,” Letting Go.

Tom Satwicz and Kris Morrissey, “Public Curation: From Trend to Research-Based Practice,” Letting Go.

Due: Analysis of a Digital Public Humanities Project

Week 7/February 28 Social Media and Networked Publics

Danah Boyd, “White Flight in Networked Publics?” Race After the Internet. (Blackboard)

Mark Sample, “A Protest Bot is a Bot so Specific You Can’t Mistake it for Bullshit.” http://www.samplereality.com/2015/10/03/a-protest-bot-is-a-bot-so-specific-you-cant-mistake-it-for-bullshit/

Amanda Grace Sikarskie, “Citizen Scholars: Facebook and the Co­creation of Knowledge,” Writing History in the Digital Age. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/dh/12230987.0001.001/1:9/–writing-history-in-the-digital-age?g=dculture;rgn=div1;view=fulltext;xc=1#9.2

Suey Park, “The Viral Success of #NotYourAsianSidekick Wasn’t About Me, But All of Us,” XOJane. http://www.xojane.com/issues/suey-park-notyourasiansidekick

“Anatomy of a Hashtag,” Al Jazeera. http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/the-stream/multimedia/multimedia/2013/12/anatomy-of-a-hashtagnotyourasiansidekick.html

“Engaging to Preserve (about twitter)” http://publichistorycommons.org/engaging-to-preserve/

Due: Blog Reading Response

Week 8/March 7 Lab: Analyzing Twitter Data

Moya Bailey, “#transform(ing)DH Writing and Research: An Autoethnography of Digital Humanities and Feminist Ethics,” Digital Humanities Quarterly, http://digitalhumanities.org:8081/dhq/vol/9/2/000209/000209.html

Martin Grandjean, “A Social Network Analysis of Twitter: Mapping the Digital Humanities Community,” Cogent: Arts & Humanities, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311983.2016.1171458

Due: Final Omeka Exhibit

March 14: Spring Break

Week 9/March 21 Accessibility

Lauren F. Klein, “The Image of Absence: Archival Silence, Data Visualization, and James Hemings,” American Literature. V 85 (4) December 2013. (RL)

Amy Earhart, “Can Information Be Unfettered?: Race and the Digital Humanities Canon,” Debates in the Digital Humanities. http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/16

Misty DeMeo, “The Politics of Digitization,” Model View Culture. https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/the-politics-of-digitization

Bob Harlow, “The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences,” Wallace Foundation Report. (download here: http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/audience-development-for-the-arts/strategies-for-expanding-audiences/Pages/The-Road-to-Results-Effective-Practices-for-Building-Arts-Audiences.aspx)

Due: Blog Reading Response

Week 10/March 28 Peer Review of Proposals: Draft 1 Humanities Content, Creative Approach, and Audience, Distribution and Evaluation

Jarrett Drake, “#ArchivesForBlackLives: Building a Community Archives of Police Violence in Cleveland,” https://medium.com/on-archivy/archivesforblacklives-building-a-community-archives-of-police-violence-in-cleveland-93615d777289#.q2zoyyiik

Week 11/April 4 Campus Event

Spatial Humanities

Week 12/April 11 Digital Spaces

Mark Tebeau. “Listening to the City: Oral History and Place in the Digital Era,” Oral History Review, Vol. 40 Issue 1. 2013, p25-35. (RL)

Stephen Robertson, “Putting Harlem on the Map,” Writing History in the Digital Age. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/dh/12230987.0001.001/1:8/–writing-history-in-the-digital-age?g=dculture;rgn=div1;view=fulltext;xc=1#8.2

Franco Moretti, “Maps,” Graphs Maps and Trees (e resource) https://catalog.libraries.rutgers.edu/vufind/Record/5109606

Due: Blog Reading Response

Week 13/April 18 Mapping Lab

“From crowdsourcing to knowledge communities: Creating meaningful scholarship through digital collaboration,” http://mw2015.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/from-crowdsourcing-to-knowledge-communities-creating-meaningful-scholarship-through-digital-collaboration/

Week 14/April 25 Peer Review of Full Proposal Drafts & Prototype

Miriam Posner, “What’s Next? The Radical, Unrealized Potential of the Digital Humanities,” http://miriamposner.com/blog/whats-next-the-radical-unrealized-potential-of-digital-humanities/

Final Proposals Due—May 7

Early May: Telling Untold Histories Unconference (untoldhistories.wordpress.com). While this is after the semester is over, I hope you’ll join us (registration cost waived for my students)!