Penn recently opened the Price Lab for Digital Humanities as part of the universitys new strategic plan, so it is a very exciting moment for DH at Penn. This class might be considered an advanced introduction to the relatively short history of DH. It will focus on one of the questions that has vexed the field from the beginning: Why are the Digital Humanities So White?, as Tara McPherson put it rather bluntly in a chapter of Debates in the Digital Humanities. The class will provide an overview of some of the foundational texts of DH, but the primary focus of the class will be involving students in a new DH project to construct an interactive timeline, built in Omeka. The spatio-temporal timeline seeks to represent Iroquois history as seen from the perspective of Iroquois scholar and Faithkeeper, Richard Hill. Hill is the director of the Deyohahage: Indigenous Knowledge Centre on the Six Nations reserve in the Grand River region of Ontario and one of the most highly regarded traditional knowledge keepers of his generation, so it is a great honor to be able to work with him. On a more theoretical level, the class will be addressing the relationship between cultural codes and digital codes. In other words, how to represent Iroquois spiritual history (i.e., mythical events) on a chronological timeline? How to represent indigenous space on maps created by the people who colonized the Iroquois (e.g., the boarder between Canada and the US cuts the Iroquois traditional homeland in half)? Students will learn how to evaluate a complex and challenging project like this, which is still in its earliest stages. On a more practical level, students will learn skills in the exhibit building software Omeka. The class will engage many different forms of history from archival documents to You Tube videos, in its study of how digital technology makes it possible to represent the indigenous oral tradition much more accurately than is possible on the printed page.


Day and Time: 


Cross Listings: 
  • RELS446401
  • Major/Minor requirements fulfilled: Seminar