Syllabus

Fall 2020

Tuesday-Thursday, 11-12:15pm
Manly Hall 210 and Zoom

Prof. Jeri E. Wieringa
jeri.e.wieringa@ua.edu
Office: Manly 315B
Office Hours: Mondays, 2-4pm (Zoom); Thursdays, 9-11am (Slack)
Due to Covid-19, in-person office hours will only be scheduled in cases of great need.

Course Description

This cross-disciplinary course introduces students to the methods of the digital humanities by applying those methods to the study of religion. Students will learn a variety of digital methods and tools and apply those to data drawn from religious studies. Students do not need a background in computing or religious studies.

Course Objectives

  • course will introduce students to the theories and methods of the digital humanities 
  • course will introduce students to the ethics of acquiring, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting data within the context of religious studies
  • course will provide students opportunities to apply theories and methods from digital humanities to religion “data”
  • course will present data as contested, complex, and ethically charged

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will create a digital portfolio to showcase their work over the semester
  • Students will review an existing digital humanities project
  • Students will experiment with methods from the digital humanities to explore different aspects of religious cultures
  • Students will discuss issues of working with data and digital technologies for studying culture and identity
  • Students will create a final project that uses the methods from the course to explore and analyze a dataset from multiple angles

Required Software

Please download and install the following:

You will be setting up and managing an online portfolio in WordPress for this course. Please sign up for an account with Reclaim Hosting – https://reclaimhosting.com/.

Required Texts

The readings for this course are available online or I will provide PDF documents through Box. The following two titles are available as open access volumes through MIT Press.

Class Requirements

Participation (30 points)

The course is structured with Tuesdays as “theory” day and Thursdays as “lab” day. This means we will read and discuss writing in the field on Tuesday (like your usual humanities seminar course) and you will do hands-on computational work on Thursday. You will meet the participation requirement by doing the readings, participating in discussion (as outlined below), doing the homework, and using your online Portfolio.

WordPress Portfolio (10 points)

Your first assignment will be to create a portfolio in WordPress. The portfolio provides space for you to share what you have learned and to begin speaking with others who are examining issues of computation and culture. You will submit your assignments by posting them to your blog. 

I recommend you make your site public, as showing your work and engaging with other people in the field is a great way to start networking. However, I will listen to arguments why your site or a particular assignment should remain private. Regardless, you will need to create an admin account for me on your sites so that I can help troubleshoot and verify your work.

Rubric will be distributed in class.

Weekly discussion of readings (10 points)

For each Tuesday meeting, your homework is to read the assigned texts and come to class prepared to discuss them. This could mean having a question to ask about what the text means or how it relates to other readings in this class or your other classes. Or you think the author makes a point that has implications for other readings or our technical assignments. Or you have a disagreement with one of the readings that you would like to discuss, which gives us all a chance to question our own assumptions and those of the author. You can either share these during class or post them to Slack by 10am on Tuesday morning (to give everyone a chance to review before class). 

You will earn one point per week for contributing to our discussions for a total of 10 points. You get 2 free pass weeks for those times when you need a break.

Weekly lab reports (10 points)

For each Thursday lab, you will have a homework assignment asking you to demonstrate your attempts to tackle the technical challenge of the week. These will be graded on a ✓+, ✓, 0 scale (Done well – 1 point, attempted – .5 points, nothing posted – 0 points). Posts are due by the beginning of class the following Tuesday.

Your 2 lowest marks will be dropped. 

Review of DH Project (20 points)

During the first half of the semester, you will give a presentation and written review (posted to your blog) of an existing digital humanities project. This will be a collaborative project, meaning you will pair up with one or two classmates to do the review and presentation. 

Present in class on September 17. Rubric will be distributed in class.

Three Written Reflections on DH in the study of religion (30 points)

There are 3 modules in the course

  • Presentation of digital projects (Due October 1 September 24 at the start of class.)
  • “Data” as it relates to religious studies and the digital humanities (Due October 29 at the start of class.)
  • Uses of computational analysis (Due November 19 at the start of class.)

For each section, you will write a 500-1000 word blog post responding to the question posed at the beginning of the module. These will be graded and worth 10 points each.

Rubrics will be distributed in class.

Final Project (20 points)

Your final project is to write a 2000-word blog post and data review that explores a research question of our dataset. You may need to bring in additional data to answer your question, but analysis of the data should be at the center of your response. 

Due December 11 @ Noon. Rubric and details will be distributed in class.

Attendance in a Hybrid Course

This course is “Hybrid,” meaning that your attendance and participation can be either in person or virtual, by way of Zoom. To do this, we are going to structure the course as “remote first”, meaning that our primary platform for interacting will be Zoom. If you have to quarantine, you should be able to continue participating in the course. 

What does “attendance” look like?

Attendance for this course means appearing during our scheduled class periods either by joining the Zoom call or coming to the meeting room in Manly Hall. If you choose to come to the classroom, you will need to bring along your computer so that you can “call in” for full class participation.

At times, we may need to suspend all classroom meetings due to heightened risk of infection. Should that happen, we will all meet via Zoom alone.

What if I get sick?

If you are sick and unable to attend class, please contact me via email as soon as you can. We will work out an alternative plan for you to complete the course requirements.

What do I need to be successful?

Concretely, you will need a computer, web camera, and a reliable internet connection. Let me know if any of these presents a challenge for you.

Beyond that, your sense of adventure and a willingness to fail. Learning technical skills requires trying and retrying, and accepting productive failure. Do not get discouraged if something is not working. Often the best course of action is to step away for a while. 

Use our Slack channels and my office hours to ask questions along the way. We are all in this together. 

Statement On Disability Accommodations

The University of Alabama is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs. If you have a documented disability (or think you may have a disability) and need reasonable accommodation(s) to participate in this class, contact the Office of Disability Services (or ODS; 205-348-4285, ods@ua.edu, Houser Hall 1000, www.ods.ua.edu) as soon as possible. If you have been approved to receive accommodations through ODS, please meet with me during office hours or by appointment to submit your accommodation letter and discuss how accommodations can be implemented in this course.

Grading Scale

This course is designed so that you can calculate your grade at any point by adding up the total number of points that you have earned to date. 

A+   97-100   C     70-75

A     90-96         D+   66-69

B+   86-89         D     60-65

B     80-85         D-    50-59

C+   76-79         F      below 50