In this course, students will learn about and experiment with new ways of approaching novels via the “digital humanities.” Digital humanities means many things, but for our purposes, it emphasizes the use of digital tools and spaces to two ends: first, to create new ways of reading and writing about a literary form (the novel) that was the dominant entertainment platform, so to speak, of the nineteenth century; and second, to awaken our sense of the many connections between new practices and technologies and the long, often forgotten histories that these “novel” phenomena grow out of.
We will read novels in this class, but more than that, we will do things with them. Novels will be specimens for our experiments: together we will build things and share them, with each other and the broader public. First, we will produce an audiobook of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, using the exercise as an excuse to think about the long history of orality and the novel. Next, we will create an annotated version a short, public-domain novel we will chose together. Finally, we will “play” a novel by taking on the roles of various characters in and around the text using the Ivanhoe theme in WordPress. Time permitting, we will briefly explore the possibilities of doing textual analysis of novels at the end of the course.
By the end of the course, students will have learned new skills and, more importantly, new ways of thinking about what novels can be and do in an era when reading increasingly happens on interconnected screens.
Course requirements: rigorous reading, informal writing (on a course blog), enthusiastic participation via Zoom, participation in group digital projects and a final essay or project.
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